New World School of the Arts 25th birthday celebration honors alumni with three-day fete

on .

25th anniversary weekend celebration 
reunites NWSA alumni and inspires camaraderie

Miami -- The much anticipated NWSA All-Alumni Reunion finally took over much of Miami, resurrecting treasured memories, highlighting cherished moments and NWSA 25th Anniversary cakereconnecting many as they joined to celebrate the 25th year anniversary of one of the top arts conservatories in the nation. The three-day celebration began with a welcome reception at Artseen Gallery on Friday evening, followed by a number of workshops, activities and master classes held on Saturday in the classrooms and studios of New World School of the Arts. That same evening an elegant dinner and dancing reception at Jungle Island continued the festivities late into the evening. The 25th Anniversary All-Alumni Reunion finally culminated with an amusingly memorable BBQ held under torrential rains in Crandon Park.
Artseen Gallery, located in the artistically fertile grounds of Wynwood, became the launching pad for the first-ever NWSA All-Alumni Reunion in celebration of New World School of the Arts 25th Anniversary, graciously sponsored by Bank of America. Adorned with high tops decorated in black and contrasting loungers upholstered in crisp white, the 7500 square foot site became the hot welcoming scene for New World School of the Arts alumni, faculty, and friends. Many, coming back for the first time since they walked out in their cap and gown more than two decades ago, were eager to reconnect with their fellow alumni and teachers and start strengthening the bonds that were once created at the school. Others, who regularly visit the gallery and attend the many events and performances that NWSA showcases regularly, feltright at home the minute they stepped in.  A live performance by the NWSA Jazz Ensemble and larger-than-life video projections on all walls of the gallery - featuring a varied display of yearbook, graduation, and performances photos - were the perfect entertainment for the more than 300 guests that attended the All-Alumni reception opening. Sponsored by Bacardi®, the evening boasted an open bar, a savory display of appetizers, and a decadentbirthday cake to celebrate the many accomplishments of the school, its faculty and its alumni who, through the years have demonstrated their commitment and pride in their alma mater.

The following morning, alumni, faculty and staff once again reunited but this time it was in the familiar building of New World School of the Arts in the downtown Miami MDC Wolfson campus. Hosting workshops, lectures and master classes, NWSA began its open house with a relaxing yogasession followed by a rejuvenating continental breakfast; however, as the afternoon approached, things heated up with a jam-packed schedule of events for each division.  Some of the classes that drew countless alumni and guests include a master dance class with famed dance alumni Vitolio Jeune – now a dancer in the Garth Fagan Dance Company, and a lively open- mic session with Rodester Brandon. Renowned founding-dean of dance Daniel Lewis hosted a lecture where he recounted his life at New World School of the Arts over the past 25 years while NWSA graphic design faculty, Rosario Martinez-Cañaz, treated all her guests to a complimentary personalized official NWSA Alumni Reunion t-shirt.

The merriment continued in the evening with a spirited dinner ‘n-dancing reception at Miami’s popular Jungle Island as more than 200 alumni, faculty, staff and friends of New World School of the Arts joined in to celebrate the schools 25th birthday. A deliciously crafted cocktail hour was the perfect way to start the evening, which turned into a wilderness adventure as the Jungle Island staff brought out an exotic collection of animals for the delight of guests.  The evening opened with a stellar performance by college music theater students who sang popular pieces from Broadway musicals. This was the perfect introduction to Jeffrey Hodgson, interim Provost of NWSA, who delivered a heartfelt welcome address setting the tone for the evening. With an inspiring and promising message he presented other keynote speakers, including former HS Principal,Ellery Brown, former Dean of Dance, Daniel Lewis, and founding faculty member Richard Janero.  Famed alumni and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney also had his moment in the limelight as he delivered a playfully nostalgic message that revisited his NWSA life journey and the power of friendship. The entertainment continued with jazz vocalist Jennifer Sanon as she powerfully yet poetically delivered two beautifully arranged jazz standards, including My Funny Valentine.  The live performances concluded with the “The Connection,” the exclusive NWSA music theater High School group led by Ron Headrick.  After a succulent three-course meal, New World School of the Arts family and friends let loose on the dance floor in celebration of 25 years of artistic and academic excellence, dancing the night away into the midnight hour. Among the distinguished alumni that enjoyed the evening was choreographer Rosie Herrera, Vitolio Jeune – dancer with the Garth Fagan Dance Company, film-maker Billy Corbin and award-winning playwright Tarell A. McCraney.

As scheduled, despite the temperamental Sunday Miami weather, New World School of the Arts alumni, current students and faculty and staff took to the beach and  continued the celebration at the Beach BBQ Bash.  Hosted at the historic Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, over 50 enthused friends and supporters enjoyed smoked BBQ deliciously prepared by Shorty’s BBQ.  When the torrential rain finally subsided, the festivities were at full speed starting with a competitive faculty vs. alumni tug of war, hilarious hoola-hoop contests for the kids and a massive attack of deans vs. studentsdodge ball.   At the end of the fun-filled soggy afternoon, everyone that attended had a greater sense of affinity towards New World School of the Arts and a renewed sense of camaraderie that will surely last for decades to come.

About New World School of the Arts
New World School of the Arts is a world-classcenter of excellence in the visual and the performing arts providing a comprehensive program of artistic, creative and academic development. With programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music,Theater, and Art and Design, NWSA offers the high school diploma as well as the AA and the four-year BFA and BM college degrees. Through a rigorous curriculum that reflects the rich multicultural state of Florida and conservatory training, it empowers students to become leaders in the arts. Since 1988, more than 3,700 students of every economic and ethnic background have graduated from NWSA – many joining the ranks of prestigious arts organizations. NWSA alumni are becoming integral members of the national and international arts arena, expanding the landscape of our community. They are recognized artists, playwrights and performers winning Tony and Grammy awards. They perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center and in major opera houses. Our visual art exhibit in Art Basel and in the Whitney Biennial and our choreographers lead major dance companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and dance with the Martha Graham Dance Company, among others.

New World School of the Arts was created by the Florida Legislature as a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts. It is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, MiamiDade College and the University of Florida.
Information about New World School of the Arts is available at (305) 237-3559, or at
Photo ID’s:  Photographer: Juan E. Cabrera. Photos courtesy of New World School of the Arts
•    DSC_8902 – World renowned Jazz vocalist, Jennifer Sanon (music 2004), delivers inspiring remarks to fellow alumni about the importance of staying connected and supporting their alma mater, New World School of the Arts
•    DSC_8932 – The New World School of the Arts official Birthday Cake
•    DSC_8808 – Award-winning playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney (theater 1999) shares a humorous moment with celebrated film director and producer Billy Corben (theater 1996) 
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