Featured Speakers and Artists

Throughout Assembly 2012, participants were treated to insights and entertainment from celebrated arts leaders and artists.

Opening Session

Thursday, October 4
1:00-2:30 p.m.

Dolores Kendrick
D.C. Poet Laureate

Dolores Kendrick

Steve Lewis

Dolores Kendrick was named the second poet laureate of the District of Columbia in 1999. Noted as one of the top African-American poets writing today, she authored the award-winning poetry book The Women of Plums and is author of Through the Ceiling and Now Is the Time to Praise.

Kendrick has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Award, the George Kent Award for Literature and the prestigious Anisfield-Wolf Award, and is the first Vira I. Heinz professor emerita at Phillips Exeter Academy. She received an honorary Ph.D from St. Bonaventure University in Buffalo, New York. A poem written in Shanghai, China, during her teaching assignment at the Shanghai School of Foreign Languages was recently presented in both English and Mandarin to a Chinese delegation that requested it while visiting Washington, D.C.

Kendrick hosts a variety of events annually to rejuvenate the art of poetry in the District. For Black History Month in February, she hosts a day of African American poetry for the community to engage with famed local and national literary activists. Kendrick's Young Champion Poets Program has enhanced the creativity and vision of D.C.'s energetic young poets by providing opportunities for them to write and perform original poetry.

Daniel Phoenix Singh, Artistic Director


Stephen Baranovics

Dakshina is a dynamic and diverse dance company based in Washington, D.C. Dakshina means "offering" in Sanskrit, and in keeping with this spirit, Dakshina / Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company offers artists and communities the unique opportunity to experience dance as a movement that links the arts, cultures, and social causes. In recent years, Dakshina has examined the connections between Indian, social and modern dance forms; brought dance out of the auditorium and into schools and community centers; and pushed the boundaries of the form through the use of film, interviews, popular music and theater.

Founded in 2003, Dakshina connects traditions with trend-setting work and pushes participants to approach dance in a thought-provoking manner.The company has a unique mission of both performing and presenting leading and emerging artists side by side to create a dialogue across generations and cultures.

In 2007, Dance Metro DC recognized Singh with the Founder's Award for Innovation in Dance. Costume designer Roxann Morgan Rowley and Singh shared an award for Excellence in Costume Design, and the company was acknowledged with the Emerging Group award, both given by Dance Metro DC in 2008. The company toured India in 2009, continuing on to Bangladesh in 2010. Dakshina received the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's Arts Connect grant to perform in more than 15 theaters in six states in 2011 and 2012.

KanKouran West African Dance Company
Assane Konte, Artistic Director

KanKouran West African Dance Company

Andrew Foster

KanKouran West African Dance Company was founded for the purpose of contributing to the extension of the arts by introducing the essence of traditional African dancing and drumming to audiences; enriching American cultural heritage through the integration of authentic West African performing arts; and promoting intercultural understanding through education and the performing arts.

KanKouran was formed in 1983 in Washington, D.C., by Artistic Director Assane Konte and former Director of Music Abdou Kounta, who grew up together in Dakar, Senegal. Throughout the last 28 years, KanKouran has established itself as a premier center for the study and performance of traditional West African dancing and drumming and as a communal home for artists and art lovers. Weekly classes for adults and children have been a key component of furthering the company's mission and establishing an appreciation for African performing arts in the United States. KanKouran's annual African dance and drum conference is the largest, longest-running gathering of student- through master-level African dancers and drummers. The company has worked extensively to bring African dance and drum to children of all ages through various in-school and extracurricular programs.

KanKouran performs concerts based on the traditions and rituals of West Africa and has showcased at numerous venues including the White House, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institutions, Warner Theater, Lisner Auditorium, National Theater, Lincoln Theater, local federal agencies, civic and private organizations, educational institutions throughout the United States, and many other local national, and international venues.


Opening Reception

Thursday, October 4
7:00-9:00 p.m.
National Museum of Women in the Arts

Metro Jazz Trio

The members of the Metro Jazz Trio are all seniors in high school in the District of Columbia. Founders Vincent Femia (guitar) and Jamie Finucane (piano) both attend Woodrow Wilson High School. Vincent Femia studies jazz guitar at the Levine School of Music, and Jamie Finucane is a student at the Washington Conservatory of Music. They have been playing music together for more than five years. Danny Howard (drums), the newest member of the trio, is a student at Gonzaga High School.

Spilling Ink Project
Indian Dance

The Spilling Ink Project

Jim Darling

The Spilling Ink Project weaves memorable tales from Indian folklore and mythology that unfold through rich, traditional South Indian classical dance forms. Performers Nalini Prakash and Vijay Palaparty use an intricate language of hand gestures combined with dramatic facial expressions, melodic music and narration to take audiences on a colorful journey to India.

Nalini Prakash is a gifted performer, choreographer and teacher of Indian classical dance. She specializes in Bharatanatyam, a South Indian classical dance style, and is the founder and director of Silambam in Coonoor, an institution dedicated to teaching Bharatanatyam, South Indian classical Carnatic music and dance theory. Additionally, she holds the position of founder secretary of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Nilgiris Kendra. Prakash holds a master's degree in performing arts from the M.S. University of Baroda, where she worked with Professor C.V. Chandrasekhar. She recently completed a diploma in Indian fine arts from the Nalanda Dance Research Centre in Mumbai.

Vijay Palaparty grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. As an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University, he learned Kuchipudi dance from Dr. K. Uma Rama Rao, retired head of the Department of Dance, Telugu University (Hyderabad, India). Palaparty studied Bharatanatyam with Smt. Padma Rajagopal, founder and director of Nupur Anjali School of Dance, in Cleveland. He is also a student of Professor Sudharani Raghupathy, president and principal of Shree Bharatalaya, a preeminent institution for Indian classical dance. Palaparty has been studying and performing both Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam for the past 10 years throughout the United States, India, Canada, and Australia.

Christylez Bacon and the Washington Sound Museum
Progressive Hip-Hop Artists

Christylez Bacon

Andrew Foster

Christylez Bacon (pronounced "chris-styles") is a GRAMMY nominated progressive hip-hop artist and multi-instrumentalist from Southeast, Washington, D.C. As a performer, Christylez multitasks between various instruments such as the West African djembe drum, acoustic guitar and the human beat-box (oral percussion), all while continuing the oral tradition of storytelling through his lyrics.

With a mission toward cultural acceptance and unification through music, Christylez has performed at the National Cathedral, was the first hip-hop artist to be featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, composed and orchestrated a concert for 12-piece orchestra commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institution, and has recorded a folk/hip-hop children's album.


Plenary Session

Friday, October 5
9:00-10:15 a.m.

Rocco Landesman
Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

Rocco Landesman

Michael Eastman

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman joins us for a plenary dialogue about creative place making and the essential leadership roles of public arts agencies.

Rocco Landesman's career has been a hybrid of commercial and artistic enterprises. A former faculty member at the Yale School of Drama and Yale Rep, he ran a private investment fund before being appointed president of Jujamcyn, which owns and operates five Broadway theatres. Notable Broadway shows he has produced include Big River (1985 Tony Award for Best Musical), Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (1993 Tony Award for Best Play), Angels in America: Perestroika (1994 Tony Award for Best Play), and The Producers (2001 Tony Award for Best Musical).

Prior to his appointment to the NEA in 2009, Landesman vigorously engaged the ongoing debate about arts policy, speaking and writing about the relationship between the commercial and not-for-profit sectors of the American theatre. Also passionate about baseball, horse racing and country music, he has at one time or another owned three minor league baseball teams, various racehorses and a collection of Roger Miller long-playing records.


Leadership Luncheon

Friday, October 5
12:00-1:45 p.m.

Victor Glaudé

Victor Glaudé

Shianne Reyes at Picture People (

Victor Glaudé was born in Norfolk, Virginia, to a musical family. His father, Clarence Glaudé, Jr., was a pianist from Louisiana. Under his father's tutelage, Glaudé began playing the piano at age four and was making guest appearances by age six on The Morty Nevins Show, a jazz program aired in the Tidewater Virginia area. At age seven, he began playing the guitar, and several years later was performing in the rhythm and blues circuit.

During the early 1970s, Glaudé moved to Los Angeles and began studying with John Collins, who received critical acclaim as a teacher and as a guitarist for Nat King Cole. Several years later, Glaudé moved to Washington, D.C., winning first place in the 1980 Jazz Guitar Scholarship Award competition sponsored by jazz guitarists Kenny Burrell and Bill Harris.

Glaudé is honored to have worked with Sangoma Everett, Hilton Felton, Pepe Gonzales, Shirley Horn, Bill Harris, Butch Warren and Roy Wooten. He has a B.A. in computer information system sciences from the University of the District of Columbia.

Artist Showcase

Friday, October 5
4:00-5:30 p.m.

Denyce Graves

Denyce Graves

Devon Cass

Recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting vocal stars, Denyce Graves continues to gather unparalleled popular and critical acclaim in performances on four continents. Her career has taken her to the world's great opera houses and concert halls. The combination of her expressive, rich vocalism, elegant stage presence and exciting theatrical abilities allows her to pursue a wide breadth of operatic portrayals and to delight audiences in concert and recital appearances. Graves has become particularly well known to operatic audiences for her portrayals of the title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila.

Graves is a native of Washington, D.C., where she attended the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts. She continued her education at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory. Since her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1995-96 season in the title role of Carmen, Graves has appeared continually in a broad range of repertoire with leading theaters in North America, Europe and Asia. She has performed at The Washington Opera, Los Angeles Opera, the Royal Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, Opernhaus Zürich and many others. Graves has shared the stage with Roberto Alagna, Andrea Bocelli, José Cura, Plácido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes. At leading symphony orchestras throughout the world, she has worked with conductors including Riccardo Chailly, Myung-Whun Chung, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti and Mstislav Rostropovich.

One of the music world's most sought-after recitalists, Graves's programs include patriotic songs, German Lieder, French mélodie, and English art song as well as the popular music of Broadway musicals, crossover and jazz together with American spirituals. She appears regularly on radio and television as a musical performer, celebrity guest, and the subject of documentaries and other special programming. Among the many awards she has received are the Grand Prix du Concours International de Chant de Paris; the Grand Prix Lyrique, awarded once every three years by the Association des amis de l'opéra de Monte-Carlo; and the Marian Anderson Award, presented to her by Miss Anderson. Please visit the artist's website at

The Washington Ballet
Septime Webre, Artistic Director

The Washington Ballet

oui/non Choreography by Septime Webre, vocalist: Karen Akers. Inspired by the smoldering culture of a French cabaret, the Washington Ballet premiered oui/non in 2006. Photograph by Carol Pratt

Under the leadership of Septime Webre, who is celebrating his 14th season as artistic director, The Washington Ballet has expanded its three-pronged mission: growing the artistry and international reputation of The Washington Ballet; training the next generation of dancers through The Washington School of Ballet; and deepening the organization's commitment to community engagement through the visionary programs of DanceDC and TWB@THEARC.

Since its inception in 1999, DanceDC has provided integrated dance and literacy training to more than 6,000 students enrolled in District of Columbia public schools. The EXCEL! program supports the most promising students from DanceDC to train at the internationally recognized Washington School of Ballet on full scholarship. In 2005, in partnership with Building Bridges Across the River, The Washington Ballet opened The Washington Ballet at THEARC (TWB@THEARC), which brings professional-level classical ballet training to hundreds of young people in Southeast Washington, D.C., and provides an additional performing home for The Washington Ballet.

Community collaborations have been a hallmark of Webre's tenure, including The Washington Ballet's landmark trip to Cuba in fall 2000; a collaboration with Artistic Director Molly Smith at Washington's Arena Stage (Coyote Builds North America); and Journey Home, a partnership with Sweet Honey In The Rock, visual artist Sam Gillam and playwright Norman Allen.

Webre's choreographed works appear in the repertoires of many companies in North America, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ballet Austin, Aspen Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, Ballet West and Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet, among others. As a dancer, Webre was featured in works by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Antony Tudor, Alvin Ailey and Merce Cunningham as well as principal and solo roles from the classical repertoire.

The Sweater Set
Folk Duo

The Sweater Set

Rachel Fus

Since their early years as teens in a D.C. church choir, Maureen Andary and Sara Curtin have developed a unique musical relationship. Intricate soprano-alto harmonies soar over multi-instrumental arrangements of ukulele, guitar, flute, hand percussion, accordion, banjo, glockenspiel and the occasional kazoo/mouth trumpet solo. Listeners are invited into The Sweater Set's joyful friendship as their songs play out like musically elaborate gossip about (what else?) the perils of courtship, lust and heartbreak.

The Sweater Set was awarded the 2011 Washington Area Music Award for Best Contemporary Folk Duo and has been nominated for 11 Washington Area Music Association awards.

In 2011 they toured throughout Ireland, the United Kingdom and the northeast United States with folk legend Michelle Shocked; opened for Dar Williams at The Birchmere; performed twice at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; and worked as artists in residence at the Strathmore Center for the Performing Arts in Bethesda, Maryland. Visit for upcoming performance dates.

Frédéric Yonnet
Urban Jazz Harmonicist

Frédéric Yonnet

Stephanie Pistel

Using an instrument many have owned but few have mastered, Frédéric Yonnet's musical skills and stage presence crush every preconceived notion you've ever had about the harmonica. Regarded for decades as the choice instrument of street musicians and loners who wanted to express themselves through country music or the blues, in Yonnet's hands the harmonica becomes something altogether different: a lead voice in urban jazz, R&B and hip-hop. With each performance, stereotypical walls come tumbling down as Yonnet presents the harmonica in a refreshing and modern context that is boldly stylish, enchantingly cool and absorbingly brilliant.

Yonnet was born in Normandy, France, to a Parisian father and French Guyanese Creole mother, and lived in and around Paris most of his life. After a short stint as a drummer, he revisited an instrument he had received as a child, the harmonica. Yonnet's impressive style has led to performances, tours and recordings with some of the heaviest hitters in the music business, including the legendary Stevie Wonder, the iconic Prince, award-winning songwriter David Foster, game-changing instrumentalist Kenny G, American Idol's Randy Jackson, and R&B artists Erykah Badu, Wyclef, India.Arie, Anthony Hamilton and John Legend.


Conference Closing and Keynote Performance

Saturday, October 6
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Natasha Trethewey
U.S. Poet Laureate

Natasha Trethewey

Joel Benjamin

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and 2012-2013 U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey offers her perspective on why a strong democracy needs the arts. Through presentation and performance, she addresses how artists create awareness of social issues and help citizens make meaning of the greatest challenges facing our society; the importance of arts education; and the crucial role of public support for the arts and what's lost if Americans stopped investing in them.

Trethewey is the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; Native Guard, for which she won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize; Bellocq's Ophelia, which was named a Notable Book for 2003 by the American Library Association; and Domestic Work. Her collection Thrall is due for publication this year.

Trethewey is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. At Emory University, she is Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing. Trethewey is the 2012 poet laureate of Mississippi.

Kristen Dupard
2012 National Champion, Poetry Out Loud
2012 Mississippi State Champion, Poetry Out Loud


Hear winning recitations from 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Kristen Dupard.

Kristen Dupard rose from a field of some 365,000 students nationwide to become 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Champion. She graduated in the top 10% of her class this year at Ridgeland High School in Mississippi, where she has enjoyed reading, discussing literature, participating in speech and debate competitions, and playing on the basketball and power-lifting teams. Active in her community as a junior diplomat for the City of Ridgeland, Dupard plans to pursue a career in medicine at the University of Southern Mississippi. This is her second year as Poetry Out Loud Mississippi state champion.


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