Dance Kaleidoscope, the annual dance festival, was revived in 1988 through 2001 by Don Hewitt. Mr. Hewitt was a former dancer, Ballet Master, arts activist and Chairperson of LA County High School for the Arts dance division. The original series Dance Kaleidoscope 1 dates from 1976-1985 when it was started by the Los Angeles Area Dance Alliance, under the direction of Betty Empey. Mrs. Empey was a former trained opera singer and Director of the Los Angeles Ballet.
When developing new guidelines for the festival, Dance Kaleidoscope (2), Hewitt expanded the audition process to include world dance as well as traditional theatrical forms. Over 100 groups applied for participation annually. Approximately 28 were selected yearly. Over the festival’s 13 year span, performances were scheduled in the summer months over two to three weekends; matinee and evening. Over 150 presentations were made by dance companies during the festivals existence. “Hewitt is credited with not just reviving but upgrading the event”….Lewis Segal, LATimes
The first performance of the revived Dance Kaleidoscope was presented and partially sponsored by Cal State L A in their State Playhouse. Every performance was enthusiastically received and all were sold out. When the festival continued to grow, Dr. Clif Harper, Director of the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State LA, invited Mr. Hewitt to move the performances into the new and larger Luckman theatre on the campus
In addition to the Cal State LA Campus, the festival continued to appear in it’s original 1976 venue yearly, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre sponsored in part by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Other venues included the Japan American Theatre, Loyola Marymount University, Grand Performances at California Plaza and the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, CSULB.
“Dance Kaleidoscope has allowed many individual artists and companies to move beyond self production and be presented in large professional venues often for the first time. To have their work publicized at this level is frequently an important step in their growth”…Denise Grande, Director, Dance Resource Center (article by Lewis Segal LA Times).
Dance Kaleidoscope has twice sponsored DanceWest, the west coast platform for the Recontres Choreographiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, one of the world’s most prestigious competitions for modern choreographers. The Festival invited Tina Croll and James Cunningham to present the west coast production of their nationally acclaimed From the Horse’s Mouth in 1999 and 2000. On the 10th anniversary of Dance Kaleidoscope, choreographers were invited to recreate celebrated works by California choreographers. These recreated works were by Carmelita Maracci, Eugene Loring, Alvin Ailey, Lester Horton among others.
Since 1993, Mr. Hewitt has received numerous Lester Horton Awards, including Lifetime Achievement, and a special California Arts Council award, related to the many opportunities provided by Dance Kaleidoscope for the greater Los Angeles dance community. “Dance Kaleidoscope was not only responsible for showcasing established and emerging artists, it was an exciting event that brought forth a broad base of community support from various institutions and constituents“….Don Hewitt
Producing Artistic Director: Don Hewitt
Asst. to the Director: Gary Bates
Publicist: Linda Chiavaroli
Sponsors include: City Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Cal State LA Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, Luckman Fine Arts Complex, LA County HS for the Arts, Japan American Cultural Center, Loyola Marymount University, California Plaza, Dance Resource Center of Los Angeles, Capezio Foundation.