HARVIN COLUMN: Moja goes opera-style and new ballet company opens in Summerville
What do reggae, an opera diva, mermaids and gospel songs all have in common?
They are part of the variety that makes up this year’s MOJA Festival, Charleston’s arts festival devoted to the African-American and Caribbean heritage that helps make the area so rich.
It’s a chance to showcase diverse artists and shine a spotlight on those events that are uniquely Charleston.
Over the years, this festival has had its ups and downs with programming issues. Sometimes there are too many events, and organization has been a problem. But this year, the festival seems to have settled on producing fewer events but doing them well.
There is the not-to-be-missed Caribbean Street Parade and Opening Ceremonies on Friday.
This year, the parade starts at 6 p.m. at Hampton Park and ends at Brittlebank Park, which will give everyone a chance to find their groove with African drummers.
You can join in the parade at any point, so the more people who turn out, the more fun this is. Then you are really a part of the Reggae Block Dance at Brittlebank that goes from 6:30 to 11 p.m. It’s free, and what better way to celebrate fall in Charleston than a night under the stars.
On Saturday, there is a jazz concert with Will Downing and The Oscar Rivers Quintet 8-10:30 p.m. at the Family Circle Stadium on Daniel Island.And at 7 p.m. next Sunday, there is a collaboration between the festival and Opera Charleston to bring in Denyce Graves for a gala performance. Opera fans will remember her from her appearance as Bizet’s “Carmen” in Opera Charleston’s inaugural performances.
Other events throughout the week include art exhibits, poetry readings, storytelling, children’s events and the finale at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
Visit www.mojafestival.com to see the full list of events and how to purchase tickets.
New ballet company
Just in time for auditions for the Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker,” a new ballet company has opened in Summerville.
The Summerville Civic Ballet was founded by Artistic Director Douglas Smoak and his wife, Lori Hull. Both danced for years with Robert Ivey, and Smoak says the idea behind the company is a tribute to the longtime balletmaster and choreographer who helped so many in the artistic community get their starts.
The company’s first performance will be at Oktoberfest, 11 a.m. Oct. 20 at St. Theresa the Little Flower Catholic Church in Summerville. The company also is responsible for the 164 extra parts that fill the party scenes in the annual “Nutcracker” performances, and Smoak is happy that this year the students from Dorchester County will get a chance to share in the fun.
If you have questions about the company or auditions, call 478-1811. They are at the Magnolia Dance Academy, 2007 Old Trolley Road.
Opened this week
Midtown Productions is producing “Tell Me on a Sunday” by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
This one-woman musical charts the course of a young, British hat designer, newly arrived in New York. She follows her boyfriend, a New York-based musician she met in London, and she’s brimming with optimism for love and success as a New York designer. But ... (In theater, there is always a but, and that’s the fun of it.)
This 75-minute story is told almost exclusively through songs — one Lloyd Webber song after another and sung by Emma (played by the charming and uber-talented Mary Fishburne). She is accompanied by Musical Director Immanuel A. Houston, a scholarship piano student at the College of Charleston.
Performances run through Oct. 13 with two Sunday matinees. Tickets ($10-$25) are available by calling the box office at 795-2223 or visiting www.mid townproductions.org.
Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or email@example.com.