Taylor Productions to present ‘Neon Nights!’
This past summer, Tanya Taylor, president of Taylor Productions, took a trip to South Africa.
While she was there, Taylor, who is also a music and dance teacher at Park City Day School, joined a safari and hiked Kilimanjaro.
Although those experiences were uniquely profound for the artistic Parkite, it was the interactions with the local homeless children that touched her heart.
"Being over there and seeing the poverty and how many orphaned children there were, really opened my eyes," Taylor said during an interview with The Park Record. "There are 53.1 million orphans in Africa and about 575 that go homeless each day."
Upon her return home, she was invited to an event hosted by the Park City chapter of a South African-based nonprofit organization called Acres of Love, which provides orphaned infants and children infected with AIDS with a strong early childhood development foundation, a community-based safety net and hope, according to its mission statement.
So, Taylor decided to use her upcoming production, "Neon Nights!" that will run Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 17 and Dec. 18, at the Jim Santy Auditorium, to raise awareness for this organization, and on Dec. 18, representatives for Acres of Love will be on hand to collect voluntary donations.
"I have always wanted to honor organizations that work with children and this is an element that I would love to add to my production company," she said. "Starting with this concert, I will begin doing that, because I feel if we can find a way to help or give, then I think the world will prosper more. I think everyone, not just those in the arts, can find a way to give or support good, respectable charities.
"I also think the giving doesn’t have to only be about money, because here are many other ways we can show support and love to people."
Taylor conceived "Neon Nights!" after noticing the popularity neon-colored fashions this year and thought it would be cool to do a concert that used the colors as a running theme.
The 12-work evening of repertory will feature high-energy dancing, grooving music and some black-light effects that will accentuate the performances.
"It’s not like the whole show is full of black light, because parents will want to see their children’s faces, but we will start of with it and the opening number is done with Glo-Sticks," Taylor said. "Then we’ll add the light and the dancers will be made up with ultraviolet nail polish and and lipstick, so the visuals will all be very unique."
The music will range from uptempo numbers by Stevie Wonder, Peaches and Herb and Fun.
"I chose songs that had a nice bass beat that would go along with the neon theme," Taylor explained. "I also needed some solid songs that the younger kids could dance to. The music had to be exciting, but it also had to have a tempo slow enough for them to dance to and master the movements."
Taylor started choreographing for the 48 students in her five Taylor-Productions dance companies in late summer.
"They range in age from six to 16, and we started rehearsing in August and I see the kiddos once a week," she said. "We kept working with the pieces until we had a finished product. It has been a lot of fun."
Taylor enjoys the challenge of creating dances on different ages and abilities.
"That’s the fun part, because I love to see them master and bring the movements to life," she said. "I enjoy seeing the young kids glow when it comes to performance time. They get that performance vibe and get so confident. And then when I work with my advanced students, it’s great to see them put their own flair into the moves.
"I do expect a lot from them and I have found the higher I raise the bar, the higher they will try to jump. And when it’s done, they want to do it again," she said.
One of the works that will be performed is called "Animation."
It’s the only piece not choreographed by Taylor and is comprised of robot-like movements performed by four boys.
"I saw these boys perform at the TED-Ex event and thought how much they would fit within one of our productions," she said. "One of the boys’ mothers teaches with me, so that’s how I was able to get them into ‘Neon Nights.’"
Taylor liked that she can showcase a piece that showcases boys.
"It’s good for young people to see male dancing or being involved anywhere in the performing arts, because there is a stigma that surrounds boys and art in our culture," she said. "Men dance all around the world – Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. But in the United States, boys aren’t encouraged to dance. So, I’m excited to have a piece like this in the program."
Throughout the years, Taylor has presented contemporary dance and singing performances in Park City because she feels a responsibility to continue producing quality art the whole community can enjoy.
"One of the things I think a lot about is the happiness these productions create," she said. "Music and dance gives kids a lot of joy. I mean, when I look at one of my daughters, who is a dancer in the program, I feel that if I can give her any skill or gift in life, it will be happiness or joy."
If people feel joy, they can develop other skills and talents, Taylor explained.
The joy shows among the young talent involved with "Neon Nights!"
"This group works so well together and the pieces are perfect," Taylor said "The kids’ dynamics are so positive, and if there is a challenges it would be the lighting."
For the first time, Taylor is delegating the lighting cues to other people.
"I have never had to rely on different people, because in the past, I have been able to run all those little things myself," she said. "But I have to learn to trust that they will flip the right lights on and off at the right time, even though that gives me a little bit of anxiety."
Taylor Productions will present "Neon Nights!" on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 17 and Dec. 18, Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library and Education Center, 1255 Park Ave. 7 p.m. The performances will raise awareness for Acres of Love. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted Dec. 18. For more information, visit http://www.tanyataylorproductions.com.
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A 21-year-old Parkite was sentenced on multiple felonies.