Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project
Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project is a multi-arts initiative, with an original ballet by Stephen Mills of Ballet Austin at its core. The somber and thought-provoking ballet serves as a vehicle for evoking the events of the Holocaust and celebrates the legacy of its survivors. The project in its entirety is a multi-dimensional arts and education collaboration that aims to generate civic dialogue on prejudice and hatred, and to provoke public commitment to action against bigotry in any form. After its world premiere in Austin in April 2005, Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project travelled to Pittsburgh from September-November 2009, culminating in performances by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. The project returned to Austin from January-March 2012 with 46 community partners engaged in the community collaboration. The City of Miami was next to host the project from late August-November 2012, with performances and community dialogue hosted by The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Denver, Colorado welcomed Light from January-March 2013, with performances by the Colorado Ballet, and will be followed by the international debut of the work through a three-city tour to Israel, September 18-October 2, 2013. Though initially conceived as a dance and education collaboration, the project absorbs a number of additional artistic dimensions. A local museum sponsored a free outdoor art exhibition of large-scale Holocaust-inspired post art to engage the public; a local film festival incorporated “Paper Clips”, an independent documentary film that follows a history lesson in a rural Tennessee middle school involving student collection of six million paper clips to represent the lives lost in the genocide. Corresponding to the production premiere, the University of Texas sponsored a lecture and discussion series, and Austin Schools helped craft and make use of curricular materials to encourage routine education on intolerance and social justice responsibilities. Efforts were made also to shed light on more recent instances of genocide in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. The project culminated in a televised town hall discussion of what members of the community can and must do to stand up to prejudice. To seal the commitment to public action, government leaders in Austin, together with project participants, signed a pledge to combat bigotry and hatred. Lead Partners associated with this project include: the Anti-Defamation League; Ballet Austin; KLRU; Austin Independent School District; the City of Austin; and the Austin Police Department.