When Terrence D. Jones, the president and CEO of the Wolf Trap Foundation, was contemplating the next national park to explore for the Face of America series, he chose four in South Florida for their unique wildlife, environmental extremes and their role in the area's culture. They are Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park and Biscayne National Park.
"Since beginning this series in 2000, we have produced commissions about six very different U.S. National Parks representing some of this country's natural wonders," he said. "In exploring Yosemite, Virgin Islands, Mammoth Cave, Aviation Heritage, Hawaii Volcanoes and Glacier National Park, we've tried to reflect the diversity of the National Park system and the variety of beautiful environments and cultures. Looking ahead, we will highlight four parks of the Pacific Northwest in 2014, and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.
"We chose to tell the story of the South Florida parks in a deeper, more thorough way. It's easy to drive by or spend a few moments of silence in the Everglades, but it's impossible to enjoy them all in depth as we have done. To begin with, we commissioned David Parsons to interpret the theme of each park in contemporary dances that interpret the wildlife, show how the creatures and their habitats react to hurricanes and explain the role of the parks in our culture."
Parsons and his troupe developed dances that mesh perfectly with the show's soundtrack. It reverberates with descriptive music by multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird, voices of native Floridians and Latin jazz by the three-time Grammy-nominated ensemble Tiempo Libre. Parsons explained the preparation and final solutions to ensure that the improvised dances depict the key features of each park.
|Face of America: Spirit of South Florida|
|Where: Wolf Trap's Filene Center, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna|
|When: 8 p.m. Saturday|
|Info: $40 in-house, $15 lawn; 877-WOLFTRAP (965-3872); wolftrap.org|
"A year and a half elapsed between my initial exploration of the parks and the creation process," he said. "We shot the dances in the fall in the beautiful, isolated parks, where the only other people around were volunteers and very helpful and knowledgeable park service employees who educated us to the history and nature of each location.
"This has been an exciting adventure," Parsons said. "Collaboration is an art. You have to be flexible to bring out all different angles through dance, video and live music. The moment Tiempo Libre rises from the orchestra pit at Wolf Trap, the show will erupt into one big party."