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Dallas Jewish Week

JCC announces Arts Fest competition winners


by Deborah Silverthorn

Special to DJW

The winners have been announced for the first, JCC sponsored, solo talent competitions in a number of categories. Singers, dancers, acoustic instrumentalists and pianists off all ages were invited to compete for the grand prize which is to perform on the main stage of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on Sunday, August 18 during the seventh annual Jewish Arts Fest.

"We are so excited about this competition," said Judy Cohn, director of cultural programs and the Jewish Arts Fest for the Aaron Family JCC. "We are always looking for new ways to bring people to experience their heritage and culture. In this city, with so much untapped talent just waiting to be found, we felt that this was an ideal situation."

When Sheela Tessler, a local producer and director, was invited to participate in the JCC's cultural arts committee, she was ready to go. "I had an idea about a talent show that I expressed to them some time ago. Through time it evolved and today I am a co-chair of this portion of the Arts Fest. It's wonderful and amazing and yet here it is," said Tessler, who in her work in film, stage, television and radio has worked with Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret and Carol Burnett.

When Sheela Tessler, a local producer and director, was invited to participate in the JCC's cultural arts committee, she was ready to go. "I had an idea about a talent show that I expressed to them some time ago. Through time it evolved and today I am a co-chair of this portion of the Arts Fest. It's wonderful and amazing and yet here it is," said Tessler, who in her work in film, stage, television and radio has worked with Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret and Carol Burnett.

Almost 100 people auditioned in age categories eight to 12 years, 13-17 years and 18 to adult. In addition to the grand prize performances, a number of gift certificates, coaching sessions and other prizes will be awarded.

Winners of the contest, who will perform at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, are Lizbeth Arevalo, Carol Cohen, Giancarlo Colombo, Nicole Dalrymple, George Denisov, Chelsea Goldstein, Allie Gonino, Kat Hacker, Clay Hudson, Rodney Jackson, Stephen Katzen, Kate McNamara, Jackie Pock, Dona Rosenblatt, Mylissa Thompson, Michael Vouras and Maegan Wright.

"I am very excited about performing at the Meyerson and this whole contest has been really neat," said 14-year-old Jackie Pock of Arlington. "I love singing and doing shows and it isn't very often that I get to perform in a Jewish setting or with Jewish spirit around. This is going to be really cool." Pock sang Debbie Friedman's "L'chi Lach," Peter, Paul & Mary's "Light One Candle," and "I Felt Nothing," from "A Chorus Line." Pock, a member of Congregation Beth Shalom and no stranger to great audiences, sang the national anthem at the Ballpark in Arlington when she was just 11 years old.

"This is good for everyone all the way around," said Gleni Tai, Tessler's co-chair of the talent competition. "It's a win-win situation and for all involved it has been a learning experience. While some win the top prizes, some received coaching advice, performing notes and audition experience, and all of that is pretty special."

"We were looking for entertainers of all types, and this city is so populated with so many amazing artists," said Tessler. "We brought in prominent industry professionals to judge each of the categories and we had a great turnout and an impressive end result."

George Denisov, a winner in the over-18 category, has been singing most of his life. Born in Georgia, Russia, Denisov lived in Israel for seven years before moving to the United States. "I love to write and compose my own lyrics and music," said Denisov. "Music expresses so much and I love sharing what I feel." Denisov is the lead singer of a new band, "Siman Tov," that performs at Congregation Tiferet Israel on August 27. "I don't know yet what I'll perform at the Arts Fest, but I would love to sing an original piece."

Winners share the billing of the day with Grammy and Academy Award winning singer/songwriter Stephen Schwartz, Tony winner Debbie Gravitte, and Scott Coulter. In addition, "Visions" - Andra London, Talia Osteen and Amy Turner - will perform. There will be, as always, a juried art exhibition and sale, delicious kosher foods, a speaker's corner and activities and programming for the youngest in the community.

Kathryn Frish, Arts Fest co-chair with Lynette Rakusin, believes that the festival is important to the community at large. "The Jewish Arts Fest is the only occasion throughout the year where everyone comes together. Last year almost 6,000 people from all areas came to celebrate and to be together under one roof. It's important to have an event that does that for a community and I'm proud to be associated with that effort.

"Everything revolves around the theme 'We Are,' said Frisch, "as we wanted very much to share the diversity of the city of Dallas."

Southwest Airlines and Mars Music have provided gift certificates for winners of the talent showcase. In addition, photographer Mike Itashiki will be taking headshot photographs for all of the finalists.

Contest winners perform from 10:15 to 11:45 a.m. on the main stage of the Meyerson. Tickets for Arts Fest are: adults, $12 in advance or $14 at the door; youth ages three to 15, $6 in advance and $8 at the door; and children two and under will be admitted free. For more information, call the JCC at (214) 739-2737.


This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, July 25, 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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