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New Works commission winners announced

3/4/2022 12AM

The winning artist teams in this inaugural year of New Works are (from left) Vanessa Owens, Nicholas A. Owens and Lalah Ayan Hazelwood of Kenyettá Dance Company; Callie Burk-Hartz and Alicia LaMagdeleine of Betty Rage Productions; and Monika and Zackary Herzig.

Three winning proposals will premiere onstage June 4 at the Tarkington


CARMEL, Ind. – The Center for the Performing Arts has awarded commissions for three local artist teams to develop original works for a special event and livestream on June 4, and tickets are on sale now.


The New Works arts commission project, now in its pilot year at the Center, is designed to promote and sustain the area’s working artists and artistic communities in an inclusive way by supporting the creation of new works across all performing arts disciplines. Each winning proposal will receive a $2,500 cash award, technical support in adapting the performance for the stage, and onstage rehearsal time prior to the performance at the Center’s Tarkington theater. Winning artists also will participate in related discussions and public engagement opportunities. The themes of the proposed works reflect the Center’s organizational core values of integrity, excellence, innovation, collaboration and inclusion.


The winning proposals selected by the judging panel are:


Women’s Work – Callie Burk-Hartz and Alicia LaMagdeleine with Betty Rage Productions

This short play will explore the complexities women face as they navigate external and internal challenges in the workplace. Six actresses – three younger and three older – will represent three characters at the beginning and end of their careers in medicine, education and business, showing how their stories evolved over a 50-year span. Burk-Hartz and LaMagdeleine, both professional educators, will write and direct the piece, which also will include musical accompaniment by guitarist Dave Pelsue.


Fly High – Monika Herzig Trio and Zackary Herzig

Award-winning jazz pianist-composer Monika Herzig and her son Zackary will create music and choreography inspired by the family’s journey through Zackary’s gender transition. Zackary, a recent graduate of the Circadium School of Contemporary Circus in Philadelphia, will design the costuming and perform to the live musical accompaniment on the Cyr wheel, a large metal hoop that the performer stands inside to roll, spin and perform acrobatic moves.


A Place in Time – Nicholas A. Owens and Lalah Ayan Hazelwood with Kenyettá Dance Company

Under artistic directors Owens and Hazelwood, Kenyettá Dance Company presents work that sparks conversation around social, political and spiritual topics. This four-part piece will incorporate contemporary, modern, ballet and African dance, along with creative costuming, video projections and live and recorded music, to address systemic oppression with a message of hope and promise that empowers audiences.


“In this inaugural year for New Works, we were gratified by the strong response we received from the local arts community,” said Jeffrey C. McDermott, President/CEO of the Center for the Performing Arts. “The caliber and the creative range of the submissions was remarkable and certainly posed a challenge for the judges. We look forward to growing the program in future years.”


All three groups will perform at the 8 p.m. June 4 event and will join in a talkback discussion to close the evening. Tickets are $25, available at the Center’s Fifth Third Bank Box Office, online at and by phone at (317) 843-3800. The livestream of the performance will be available free on the Center’s website and social media channels.


New Works is supported by the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation and by Doug and Jayne Ann Wilson.