January 19-25, 2006
: Michael T. Regan
The key to artistic success is often a balance between strategic planning and the willingness to throw caution to the wind and take a (gulp) chance. Philly's arts scene is full of these savvy daredevilsthe artist who finally quits the two part-time bartending gigs and decides to paint her heart out, the musician who gives up temping for a life on the road, the actor who tries to make ends meet by giving lessons and winds up getting a casting call from a kid's dad. For this Spring Arts Preview, we found three people who've walked the tightrope between fulfilling their dreams and making a living, people whose determination, adventurousness and capacity for a little bit of luck are leading to great things.
Rebecca Davis is a 23-year-old dancer whose accomplishments belie her age: She's a Fulbright scholar now fluent in Russian, a choreographer and dance company leader debuting her work Antigone at the Kimmel's Perelman Theater, and an entrepreneur whose vision of teaching young women to dance is coming to fruitionthanks in no small measure to her stint at Temple's Fox School of Business.
Singer-songwriter Kate Gaffney is a workaholic who hasn't forgotten how to follow a whim. She's a real planner when it comes to her music career, but she's up for improv when it comes to her heart. Case in point: Her altruistic tendencies took her to Sacramento to do social work, and eventually to the local music scene. Practicality took hold, and she resettled in Philly, founding a record label and production company, landing a spot at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and establishing a monthly showcase at World Café Livebut not before a quick gig on the West Coast landed her new fans and a new love.
Then there's the often enigmatic Walter Dallas, artistic director of Freedom Theatre, the state's oldest African-American theater, housed in the Forrest mansion on North Broad Street. Dallas is a quiet, often solitary man around the local theater community, so here's what you might not know about him: He's a Yale graduate who's worked with the Black Panthers, a director who studied music in Ghana and lived all over Africa, and a writer who's eulogized August Wilson and let James Baldwin crash at his place. Dallas' years in Philadelphia have seen him beat cancer and a host of financial woes at Freedom, and now he says he's back on top and ready to roll with a full season of shows.
Still, you can't throw all caution to the wind. Arts lovers need to plan their calendars, too. We've got the usual rundown of what's on tap in roots, rock, jazz and classical music and what to expect in visual art, dance, opera and theater. So plug in those dates and times on your calendar, and go ahead and reserve your tickets --but do us a favor: Leave a little wiggle room just in case something pops up.