Core Performance Company in Life Interrupted, 2017. Photo © Paige McFall

CORE Performance Company will perform “Civil Twilight: Reflections on Fear, Courage and Resilience,” a site-specific dance/spoken word event, as part of the University of Central Arkansas’s commemoration of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School.

The 6 p.m., Sept. 24 event, at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Commemorative Garden at 2120 W. Daisy L. Gatson Bates Dr. in Little Rock, is free.

The evening will feature remarks by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Tania León. They worked as consultant and composer, respectively, of the forthcoming opera commissioned by the UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication, The Little Rock Nine.

The event is part of the UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication’s commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the building of Little Rock Central High School in 1927 and the 60th anniversary of the desegregation crisis that occurred there in 1957 through the “Imagine If Buildings Could Talk: Mapping the History of Little Rock Central High School” project.

“Since 2009, UCA has worked with Sue Schroeder and CORE Performance Company on seven highly successful projects,” said Dr. Gayle Seymour, project director and associate dean of the UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication. “CORE’s site-specific work with museums, public art installations and gardens made them an obvious choice for this commemorative event in the Central High garden.

“However, it is their commitment to the arts as tools for social change that made their participation in this project about civil rights and inclusion essential.”

Seymour said Schroeder’s “deep belief that this work should come from the local community, not be imposed upon it,” led her to make a site visit to Little Rock in June to talk with people and find local artistic collaborators who tell their stories through spoken word.

Collaborating artists include Leron McAdoo, Marcus Montgomery, and members of the Central High Writeous Poetry Club.

“Civil Twilight” commemorates, in part, the Little Rock Nine who desegregated Central in 1957, ushering in a continued endeavor for equal education under the law. Audience members will move with the artists along a winding path, past nine benches and nine trees, until they assemble at the centerpiece of the garden: two arches, mirroring those on the school’s façade, which feature reflective photographic images from Central High yearbooks. There, Gates and León will make brief remarks about the ability of the arts to create social change.

CORE’s dance artists, in collaboration with local artists, will tell the stories of the present-day community that are an extension of the Little Rock Nine story through movement, theatre and spoken word.

The performance will conclude with an audience candlelight walk to Central High School where the 3D video mapping screening by Scott Meador with soundtrack by Blake Tyson will begin at 7:30 p.m.

CORE’s Arkansas residency will also include the following free public events:

  • Community Story Circle: Fear, Courage, and Resilience, Sept. 20, 6 p.m., Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 501 W. 9th St., Little Rock
  • Gallery experience and conversation in conjunction with the Will Counts: The Central High School Photographs exhibition, Sept. 22, 12 p.m., Arkansas Arts Center, 501 E. 9th St., Little Rock

American Sign Language interpretation will be provided for all CORE events.

The project is funded by Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arkansas Arts Council and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. Additional funding is by ACANSA and UCA Public Appearances.

For more information, contact Seymour at 501-450-3295 or at gayles@uca.edu or visit uca.edu/cfac/central60/central60events/

The UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication includes the Departments of Art, Music, and Film, Theatre and Creative Writing, as well as the School of Communication. The college’s primary mission is the preparation of the next generation of artists, educators and communicators. For more information about CFAC, visit www.uca.edu/cfac or call 501-450-3293.