Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Show Mixes Dance, Paintings; Two Art Forms Are Intertwined on Stage

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Show Mixes Dance, Paintings; Two Art Forms Are Intertwined on Stage

Article excerpt

Byline: TANYA PEREZ-BRENNAN, Times-Union staff writer

Making good art means taking risks. It means looking beyond the obvious and challenging tradition. It means fusing different art forms, even when purists scoff.

William Starrett, executive and artistic director of the Columbia City Ballet in South Carolina, decided to plunge off the cliff of risky decisions.

Jonathan Green, a painter, followed suit.

And now the two are bobbing just above water, trying not to be swept away by a new current of success.

When Starrett and Green met at an awards ceremony three years ago, they decided to collaborate in putting on a non-traditional ballet, bringing Green's colorful paintings of Gullah life on stage.

"Those are the things that artists are dying to do, and it also says that you got to have faith not only in yourself but in others," Green said.

Off the Wall & Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green opens tonight at the Florida Theatre as part of the FCCJ Artist Series.

Green -- the first known artist of Gullah descent with formal art training -- highlights his culture through bold, colorful folk scenes of daily life. The Gullah are descendants from West African slaves mostly found in South Carolina's coastal Low Country. Since the Gullah were isolated from the mainland, they were able to maintain their African culture more than any other former slaves in North America.

"The uniqueness of the Gullah culture for me is that it is the beginning," Green said from his Naples, Fla., studio. "That's where we came ashore and were mixed in with European blood and Indian blood."

Starrett looked at more than 3,000 of Green's paintings before choosing 22 for the show.

"I wanted a combination of his earlier works and more recent works and then I looked for paintings that spoke to me," Starrett said.

The show features brief vignettes in the first act based on those 22 paintings. …

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