Twenty years ago the torpor of the oil bust held fast in Lafayette. Residents were fleeing the region in search of opportunity. The Lafayette Municipal Auditorium was shuttered for renovations, and the Fine Arts Foundation, a performing arts presenter, folded its tent in bankruptcy. It was dire straits for performing arts fans, but also an opportunity to fill a vacuum. When the old Muni reopened as the Heymann Performing Arts Center, the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana was poised to fill the void, and to fill the stage with a wide world’s variety — classical, jazz and popular music and dance; musicals; orchestras, chamber groups and soloists; Euro circus and Asian acrobats. Lafayette’s cultural life got a booster shot that continues to help maintain our immunity to stupidity.
“Our favorite moments will always be the times when people in our community learn more about the world, about literature, about other cultures or about themselves because they attended a show,” says PASA Executive Director Jackie Lyle. “Stage lights are for artists. We’re here to make the lives of those we serve livelier and better.”
Lyle has presided over PASA from jump, helping — along with a board of directors and a small but committed staff — to build the fledgling non-profit into an Acadiana brand. In addition to its annual performance series, PASA reaches out to the community through daytime performances for students, PASA Plus (performances for senior citizens), Play it Again (a recycled instrument drive for schools), a scholarship fund for aspiring artists, and PASA in the Park, an outdoor performance series. “PASA’s founders never envisioned the array of activities that make up the organization’s portfolio today,” Lyle says, adding that those satellite activities “evolved from a combination of need, circumstance and opportunity.”
PASA in the Park grew out of need: The Heymann Center was closed in October 2005 due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but the Aquila Theatre’s production of Hamlet was already booked and needed a venue. PASA moved the Shakespeare performance to Parc International — an ideal remedy for the circumstances. “Didn’t we all need something else besides 24-hour news, anyway?” Lyle observes.
Over the years PASA has also commissioned new works: David Parsons’s Swing Shift (2003) and Elisa Monte’s Feu Follet (1995) and Zydeco Zare! (2008). Those modern dance pieces are still being performed worldwide, born of the financial underwriting of a Lafayette non-profit. That’s pretty cool.
PASA celebrates its 20th anniversary tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 25, with a performance by one of the most dynamic, original, ground-breaking and uniquely American dance companies for nearly a half century. “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater embodies the history, diversity, excellence and beauty of our nation and of PASA,” says Lyle.
ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER
Lyle Loves It
An executive director’s short list of PASA highlights
“The performance by superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman and the late pianist Samuel Sanders and Tony Bennett’s concert were big hits. The performances of La Traviata and La Boheme by the Stanislavski Opera were our most solid and most inventive opera offerings. The 1990 recital by soprano Dawn Upshaw, one of opera’s most popular names today, was a beautiful night of singing, just after she had won her first Grammy award. Although composer Philip Glass’s solo recital was lightly attended, that selection certainly demonstrated PASA’s commitment to local access: a recital by Philip Glass is an unusual event anywhere, but Glass fans here were able to hear him perform his own music within a short drive from their homes.” — Jackie Lyle
The Louisiana Supreme Court has punted on its first chance to decide whether a new state constitutional provision declaring gun possession a fundamental right could void a long list of criminal statutes that regulate firearms.
New Orleans' offense, which ranks sixth in the NFL, isn't helping many of its skill players pile up Pro Bowl-type stats. Rather, the approach of coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees has enabled a wide range of play-makers to emerge periodically with high-production outings.
Amid mounting pressure from deep-pocketed business interests, an ordinance that would have phased out a 2 percent rebate merchants in the city and unincorporated Lafayette Parish receive for collecting sales taxes has been pulled.
From jewelry to home goods, deals abound
Forgiving shapes for NOLA Bowl
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, December 12, 2013:
As part of a national undertaking known by industry insiders as the “Butterfly Project,” a rebranded version of The Daily Advertiser is set to launch with Sunday’s edition of the Gannett-owned paper.
Louisiana moved up a slot to 48th in the ranking of healthy states — once again, thank God for Mississippi! — so all this frettin’ about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid per Obamacare ... fuggidaboutit! We don’t need Medicaid no more!
The Denham Springs woman who placed Christmas lights in the shape of a butter finger on her roof in a display of anger directed at neighbors has doubled the trouble for the 2013 holiday season.
The New Orleans architect behind the 1984 World’s Fair also left his mark on Lafayette.
Laid back vibe just right for NOLA Bowl
The 30-second commercial, to run around the state, is the Democratic senator's first TV spot in her bid for re-election to a fourth term.
It's a number that has edged up but falls far short of the thousands who are eligible for subsidized coverage.
A group of mostly higher education leaders will make recommendations to state lawmakers about how to tweak the policies governing tuition rates charged at the state's public colleges.
Week long specials and a ribbon cutting celebration held in Parc Lafayette
Fort Worth company's new facility at Lafayette Regional Airport will build helicopters primarily for the export market.
Could River Ranch restaurant be the next star?
Move over Hooters — there’s a new breastaurant coming to town.
Hashtag, retweet, like, share and do whatever else it takes to get in good today with the jolly man in red.
That would be Congressman John Fleming talking about Sen. David Vitter.