Students dazzle at 36th annual Extravaganza

Students dazzle at 36th annual Extravaganza
Dancers in the evening’s final performance, choreographed by Jennifer Turbyfill.

Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (DA) hosted its 36th annual “Extravaganza” at the Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Feb. 10.

DA students performed 22 acts in the Moran Theatre for the evening’s student showcase in a variety of different artistic categories, including theatre, cinematic arts, chamber orchestra, musical theatre, creative writing, piano and an array of instrumental quartets and combos.

Prior to the performances, guests were able to peruse an art exhibition in the lobby area featuring visual and photographic art pieces.

In a statement from mayor’s office included in the evening’s program, Mayor Lenny Curry stated, “…This evening serves as a testament to your hard work and skills as blossoming young artists. I also want to recognize the teachers and families who have provided the support, encouragement, and guidance needed for these students to flourish.”

The theme of this year’s Extravaganza was “Landscape,” DA Principal Tina Wilson explained in the event program.

“This evening we will share a small glimpse of our day-to-day scenery at DA,” she said. “Our landscape depicts days filled with diverse artistic expression by a community that shares an unwavering passion for both arts and education.”

The audience was filled with many notable guests, including several City Council and School Board members, mayors from nearby towns, leaders in the arts and higher education and former DA Principal Jane Condon.

A powerful chorale performance of “The Conversion of Saul” with conductor Jeffrey Clayton.
A powerful chorale performance of “The Conversion of Saul” with conductor Jeffrey Clayton.

This year’s Extravaganza’s honorary event chair was The Community Foundation of Northeast Florida President Nina Waters.

“Since 2005, as president of The Community Foundation of Northeast Florida, Nina has directed more than $500 million in grants to community causes, which has included Douglas Anderson,” said Wilson. “Her efforts to connect philanthropic individuals and companies in Jacksonville with community organizations has resulted in a better quality of life for everyone.”

Also recognized was Gary McCalla, a longtime DA ambassador, member of the Douglas Anderson Foundation and Extravaganza event chair for the 18th consecutive year. Wilson described him as “a man who needs no introduction” and thanked him profusely for his continued support of the school, its programs and its students.

“DA pulls the talent out of the students,” said McCalla in an article about his involvement with DA and Extravaganza as event chair in the event program. “It boosts up kids with unrealized potential who wouldn’t necessarily shine in a regular school…The valuable arts training provided by the passionate teachers is evident in DA students’ work [a]nd success. Wherever they go to pursue their craft…they are prepared.”

Dancers accompanying the musical performance of “Masquerade” by Aram Khachaturian, trans. A. Kondratiev.
Dancers accompanying the musical performance of “Masquerade” by Aram Khachaturian, trans. A. Kondratiev.

This year’s Extravaganza “Alumni Shining Star” was Chase Finn, who graduated DA in 2009 and has since built a successful career in the entertainment industry. His resume includes leading the post-production team for Queen Latifah’s talk show, post-production supervisor with Conde Nast Entertainment, which allowed him to work with several notable publications including “Vogue,” “Vanity Fair,” “WIRED,” “The New Yorker,” “GQ” and “Glamour.” He is currently the director of video production for “Goop,” Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand.

Finn took to the stage for an interview with current DA students where he shared experiences, advice and insight on what he’s learned during his career.

“At DA, I learned how to tell stories that resonate with people and push them to see the world in fresh ways,” Finn said in an event program interview. “It’s an honor to come back to Jacksonville, and visit my parents (Kevin and Sherry Finn of Ponte Vedra Beach), and reconnect with high school friends, and share my work with the audience at Extravaganza.”

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

Photos by Cady Studios, courtesy of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

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