Reflections on ‘A Gathering 2013′

Last night’s well-attended A Gathering 2013  at the Winspear Opera House was a very special occasion — not only for the collaborative, diva-free atmosphere, but for what it had to say about AIDS and resilience and hope. At times, it was very moving … never more so than during the Turtle Creek Chorale’s “Sure on This Shining Night,” when a video montage of faces of the nearly 200 chorale members lost to AIDS scrolled by. One could not help but be astonished at how so many gone were young, handsome, vibrant, happy folks cut down far too soon.

Markus Lloyd brought down the house at the end of Act 1 with his soulful rendition of “I’ll Cover You” from Rent, and soprano Mary Dunleavy was remarkable on “Nisi Dominus.” It was a stirring performance — not just for them, but all the artists onstage.

Check out some behind the scenes photos of the rehearsal below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

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Crow Sculpture Garden

Downtown Dallas is the center of culture this week — in a big way.

Just like every month, the First Saturday tours of ATTPAC will be taking place, and there will be a street fair with lots of art from One Arts Plaza to Klyde Warren Park. But on the stages and galleries is where the real action is.

First, Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s 8th annual DanceAfrica will be performed Friday and Saturday at Annette Strauss Square. Inside the Wyly Theatre starting Friday is DTC’s preview week for Clybourne Park, the sequel to A Raisin in the Sun, both of which will be performed in repertory throughout October.

The Crow Collection of Asian Art, which is always free to the public, officially debuts its long-in-development Sculpture Garden, which encircles the Trammell Crow Center above the museum. The huge fu dogs (really lions) and the beautiful “sweepers” are among the draws outside, as well as the exquisite landscaping. Among the impressive items currently on exhibit inside the Crow are brass Chinese zodiac heads from famed artist Ai Weiwei, as well as a hand-painted Porsche that looks like a Chinese tapestry on wheels.

The new exhibit by gay artist Jim Hodges officially opens inside the Dallas Museum of Art on Sunday, but really, you can catch a sneak peek during the fair on Saturday. Hodges is a multimedia artist of such remarkable breadth, you mind will be blown.

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View from the Reunion Tower GeO Deck.

Also on Saturday, you can divert south of the Arts District down to Reunion Tower to enjoy the GeO Deck, the observation level of the tower below the revolving Five Sixty restaurant. In addition to Halo, a system of table-sized iPads that allow you to explore the city (both visually from live cameras and its history), you can actually walk outside and get a 360-view of Dallas, from the Omni to the Trinity to Uptown. A level up from the GeO Deck is a cafe (also manned by Wolfgang Puck staff) that, live the formal dining room, revolves while you eat.

Then head back to the AT&T plaza on Monday for A Gathering 2013, the second performance of music, dance and the spoken word that serves as a commemoration and benefit for Dallas-area HIV/AIDS charities. (Check out a slide show of rehearsal photos below.)

That’s all in addition to LifeWalk in Uptown on Sunday, Dallas Black Pride and Tarrant Pride going on all weekend and the release of the most anticipated film of the season, Gravity. So, if you say you’re bored, it’s your own damn fault.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“A Gathering” totals $60k in proceeds

From the rehearsal for "A Gathering."

So how many people does it take to make A Gathering? About a thousand, it seems. That’s about how many folks turned out for the Tuesday evening event,  raising an estimated $60,000 in the process (a full figure will be available after all the donations made that evening and still coming in by are tabulated). Organizers are even continuing to bargain over some of the hard costs, getting more donated or reduced to maximize the donations to the four AIDS beneficiaries.

That’s great, but what was really great was how the show came together, moving quickly and movingly with terrific performances from all involved. Keep it up, and this could (should) become a habit.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones