The Brazilian dance troupe Balé Folclórico da Bahia. Photo courtesy of ARTS SA.

The mission of ARTS San Antonio is to entertain, enrich, and educate the people of San Antonio and South Texas, and it has lived up to its duty in the city for the past 25 years. To celebrate its quarter century of powerful and poignant arts programming and performances, the ARTS SA team has put together a whirlwind tour of worldwide artists for the 2016-2017 season, and a few have a special hometown twist.

Patrons can choose from a myriad of 16 performances from September through May 2017, including anything from the musical sounds of swing clarinetist Julian Bliss to an exciting dance performance by Brazilian dance troupe Balé Folclórico da Bahia.

Amy Blessing-Hernandez, ARTS SA marketing manager, is excited for the possibilities each of the performances will bring.

“We’re still standing after 25 years, which is a big deal for an arts-based nonprofit,” she said. “To celebrate, we’ve repriced our packages, incentivized them, so that you will receive a bonus event free.”

Dedicated ARTS SA supporters can go all out and purchase the “Whole Enchilida” package to attend all 16 performances, or still receive the benefit of the free bonus event, An Evening with United States Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, with the “Pick 5” or “Pick 7” showcase packages.

“We’re offering payment plans as well, an opportunity for people to afford it all,” Blessing-Hernandez said. “For someone (who) really wants the ‘Whole Enchilida’ they’re getting 50% off the ticket price.”

To purchase tickets and for more information on performances, click here.

Billed as the “25th Anniversary Silver Season,” the lineup begins this fall on Saturday, Sept. 10 with a collaboration with Trinity University at Ruth Taylor Recital Hall featuring Italian pianist Alessandro Deljavan, a musician by whom ARTS SA Executive Director John Toohey is simply enchanted.

“He is easily the most animated and interesting competitor on the piano,” Toohey said. “His name came up and didn’t go away, (it’s) so awesome that we’re starting the season with him.”

The Yuletide season will hold ARTS SA’s traditional core event of the season, The Nutcracker, on Friday, Dec. 16, but in new form with a joint-performance by the San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet and the Mejia Ballet.

“The Mejia Ballet group is something special, and they work hard to keep it fresh every year,” Toohey said. “It happens automatically, good choreographers will direct to the skills and abilities of their principal dancers.”

The Peking Acrobats of China.  Photo courtesy of Arts SA
The Peking Acrobats of China. Photo courtesy of ARTS SA

There will also be elements of the season that walk the line between circus acrobatics and dance art, particularly a performance by the Peking Acrobats, a Chinese acrobatic group, who graced the ARTS SA bill two years ago and will perform this season on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.

“This performance art doesn’t have boundaries,” Toohey said, also referencing this year’s Pedal Punk performance as an example.

(Read more: ‘Pedal Punk’ to Cycle Across the Majestic Theater Stage)

“We want to have an element of that every year,” he said. “The musicians will be on stage performing alongside the working acrobats.”

San Antonio is home to numerous performance arts venues from humble ventures like the Jumpstart Theater to homegrown establishments like the San Pedro Playhouse. For the 2016-2017 season, ARTS SA will collaborate with a number of these venues, including the magical Tobin Center for the Performing Arts that will host the dance company Pilobolus for Shadowland, but perhaps their most exciting joint venture is with the heart of “El Westside,” the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

The Guadalupe’s professional dance troupe, the Guadalupe Dance Company, will also celebrate its 25th anniversary this season, so, in puro San Anto fashion, two groups who share a common passion will celebrate their birthday party together, uniting the bond between each community’s fan-base.

Singer-songwriter Lila Downs. Photo courtesy of Arts SA.
Singer-songwriter Lila Downs. Photo courtesy of Arts SA.

“We’re thrilled to host, along with our partners ARTS SA, an artist of the international stature of Lila Downs,” said Jerry Ruiz, the Guadalupe executive director. “Combining a concert with a special performance from the Guadalupe Dance Company … is a great opportunity for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center to continue bolstering its visibility in San Antonio and the larger region.”

The three-time Grammy award-winning Downs is a bilingual, bicultural singer-songwriter who mixes her Mexican heritage with an American upbringing, as well as extensive world influence for a dynamic and invigorating sonic experience. She is known for the art of juxtaposition, creating bold contrasts by combining mariachi alongside metal, and folk-songs with Eastern European Jewish klezmer, demonstrating her mastery of international traditions.

“It is an honor to bring together the choreography of Juan Carlos Gaytan and the music of Lila Downs in a unique fusion of traditional dance and contemporary sounds to San Antonio,” said Jeannette Chavez, Guadalupe Dance Company director. “We are thrilled to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Guadalupe Dance Company on stage with the highly acclaimed Lila Downs.”

While the Guadalupe Dance Company is a product of our city, it still maintains the level of cultural and national acclaim as all of the Arts SA programs, and fits into the components of their mission.

The Folklorico and Flamenco elements that inspire much of the ensemble create a unique educational opportunity for audience members, who are whisked away to the roots of the music and dance in Mexico and Central America, while simply relishing in the enrichment of the cultural occasion. Such a dynamism has brought the troupe to perform with a wide-range of groups from the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to the San Antonio Symphony. They’ve even performed on Good Morning America.

Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars. Photo courtesy of Arts SA, ©Jay Dickman.
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars. Photo courtesy of ARTS San Antonio, ©Jay Dickman.

Whether you are seeking an African drum circle alongside the Sierra-Leone’s Refugee All Stars, ready to witness the vivacious steps of the gaucho dancers Che Malambo from Argentina, or simply willing to kick back and soak in the the classical guitar virtuosity of David Russell, the ARTS San Antonio 2016-2017 Silver Anniversary Season has something for all tastes, a program as colorful and dynamic as the city it has called home for 25 years.

For more information on ARTS San Antonio, click here or visit their Facebook page here.

Top image: The Brazilian dance troupe Balé Folclórico da Bahia. Photo courtesy of ARTS SA.

Related Stories:

ARTS SA’s New Season to Host 16 Acts from Around the World

Nicolás Valdez Embodies Conjunto Sound at Guadalupe

Tobin Reveals 2016-2017 Season, Studio Sessions Concerts

San Antonio Symphony Releases 2016-2017 Concert Season

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Adam Tutor

Adam Tutor is a Trinity University graduate, a saxophonist who performs with local bands Soulzzafying, Odie & the Digs, and Volcan, and a freelance music contributor to the Rivard Report.