Announcing Center Stage Season 6 Ensembles from Argentina, Armenia, and Taiwan

Aug 04, 2021

Announcing Center Stage Season 6 Ensembles from Argentina, Armenia, and Taiwan

Kelsey Colcord Spitalny

Program Coordinator, Center Stage
A montage of six photos -- each one is of a different musical or dance ensemble.

U.S. Tours are planned for the 2022-2023 Season

Radical Inclusion: Center Stage connects the U.S. with bold performing artists who are reframing our creative world in this globally transformative time.

There’s an urgent energy moving through the world’s performing arts scenes. Globally linked and locally committed, independent artists are boldly responding to the disparities and possibilities of our transformative time. Some deeply examine complex histories and cultural practices. Others are challenging societal norms to publicly claim their identities and lift up the disenfranchised. All speak to their communities’ pains, dreams, and joys, and are creating inclusive paths of connection.

For its sixth edition, Center Stage, the cultural exchange program initiated by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and produced by New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), will host six contemporary music and dance-theater ensembles from Argentina, Armenia, and Taiwan in the U.S. Each group will make an independent month-long tour across the country during the 2022-2023 season, promoting global ties and engaging with audiences on stage, off stage, and online.  

Through in-person engagements and virtual interactions, these ensembles will meet with communities across the U.S. via performances, workshops, talk back sessions, artist-to-artist jams, potluck meals, and other activities to bolster mutual understanding. Lisa Booth Management, Inc. (LBMI), which has served as Center Stage’s general manager since the program’s inception in 2012, will craft and organize the community residencies that make up each tour. Residencies are being scheduled now.

“The global pandemic has disrupted everyday life and cultural expressions around the U.S. and across the world,” explains Adrienne Petrillo, Senior Program Director of Center Stage at NEFA. “Center Stage Season 6 centers artists with insights into how we can respond to external forces, renew our sense of community, and build a shared and fairer future.”

Meet the Center Stage Season 6 Ensembles

Cachitas Now! (La Plata, Argentina) U.S. debut. With swooping hooks and party grooves, the cumbia-grounded sound of this identity-inclusive LGBTQIA+ band buoyantly challenges societal norms, celebrates difference, and reclaims the love song for all.

Fémina (Buenos Aires, Argentina) The harmony-soaked vocals and electro-folk charisma of the Trucco sisters propels a new project by this acclaimed female powered band, and carries messages of equality and empowerment.

MVF Band (Yerevan, Armenia) Centering the 11-string long-necked tar, Miqayel Voskanyan’s quintet draws on polyphonic roots, global rhythms, and jazz’s tight grooves and improvisational play. Virtuosic, dynamic, and ultimately uncategorizable work, at home in clubs, concert halls, and folk festivals. 

The Naghash Ensemble (Yerevan, Armenia) U.S. debut. A septet of masterful vocalists and instrumentalists gives renewed voice to Armenia’s spiritual lineage in bracing and propulsive work rising on the classical scene. The Naghash Ensemble is led by Armenian-American composer-pianist John Hodian.

Resident Island Dance Theatre (Pingtung County, Taiwan) U.S. debut. Fresh and inventive kinetic explorations of space, time, action, and gesture by choreographer Chung-An Chang. RIDT’s outstanding dancers perform emotionally charged and socially engaged works that disrupt limitations of mental, emotional, and physical integration.

Twincussion (Taipei, Taiwan) Charismatic rising stars and Yamaha artists, Jen-Ting and Jen-Yu Chien, the twin brothers that make up this percussion dynamic duo, are engaged advocates for Taiwanese folk music, perceptive arrangers of Western classical showpieces, and champions of contemporary composers.

Global Touring: New challenges and new opportunities

After a prolonged period of confinement and closed borders, Center Stage offers opportunities to arts presenters and artists intent on strengthening understanding and interpersonal connections between Americans and creative arts makers from countries and cultures which are not often enough directly represented in the U.S.

As Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "Cultural exchanges are a powerful way for people to connect across borders and for countries to build respect for each other."  Nancy Szalwinski, Director of the Cultural Division in the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs underscored, “We’re proud to work with colleagues at the U.S. Embassies in Buenos Aires and Yerevan, and our Mission in Taipei, together with NEFA, LBMI, and our other arts partners, to bring these inspiring young artists to meet Americans and start vital conversations.”

About Center Stage

Center Stage is a cultural exchange program that invites performing artists from select countries to the United States to perform, meet, and share their experiences with communities around the country. As hosted by colleges and universities, festivals, music clubs, cultural centers, and artist-run organizations, Center Stage artists engage with audiences on stage, off stage, and online, sharing their work in the U.S. and with friends and fans at home to build mutual understanding through shared cultures and values. 

Since its first edition in 2012, Center Stage has hosted nearly 200 artists in 29 ensembles from nine nations. Hundreds of communities in 35 U.S. states and Washington, DC have hosted engagements. Five ensembles from Colombia and Perú will join this group when they make their U.S. debut tours from February through June 2022. In addition to the six ensembles from Argentina, Armenia, and Taiwan that will tour during the 2022-2023 season, Center Stage Season 7 is now being planned for the 2023-2024 year.  

Presenters, community organizations, and venues interested in partnering with Center Stage can find more information at www.BookCenterStage.org, and are encouraged to contact Deirdre Valente & Lisa Booth at Lisa Booth Management, Inc. Tel +1-212-921-2114 artslbmi@msn.com

“Center Stage celebrates cultures that people in the U.S. might have no idea about or even negative connotations because of political differences,” recounts Jordana Leigh, Director of NYC’s Lincoln Center Atrium and frequent Center Stage partner. “And our own community members from those countries see their culture celebrated in a place that they didn’t think valued their culture.”

“People in my town don’t routinely have access to excellent artistic experiences. We can undo cultural assumptions with professionalism. And it’s especially important for young people to have access to a range of cultural expressions – to expand their toolkit not only about art but about the world.” - Melissa Richmond, Executive Director, West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts, NH

“The benefit in working with Center Stage is their unique ability to tour amazing international ensembles from underrepresented cultures. Without Center Stage support, we would not be unable to present these artists due to the logistical and financial hurdles that are in place to tour the U.S.” – Carlos Tortolero, City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Center Stage is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. Government. It is administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc. Keep up with Center Stage and find additional information at centerstageUS.org, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.