Exhilarating ‘Event of the Year’ Once Again Lives Up To Its Name

April 30, 2023

“Message in a Bottle: 2023 Event of the Year” – Courtesy of Jenny Danek. Used with permission.

I can state, unequivocally, that of myriad performing arts events I attend, Kids Dance Outreach’s annual “Event of the Year” is one of my favorites. This year’s edition subtitled “Message in a Bottle” held Tuesday at Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University was, by no means, an exception. In fact, each year the concert, which spotlights the talents of primarily IPS kids, gets better and better. This year’s was the best of three productions I saw previously.

“Message in a Bottle: 2023 Event of the Year – Courtesy of Jenny Danek. Used with permission.

The brainchild of KDO’s founding artistic director Michael J. Johnson and his wife, Mónica Muñoz, the organization’s executive director, the concert exceeded expectations, raising $122,460, with more pledges coming in. The funds go towards KDOs transformative arts education programs, which are free to the 2,000 children and families they serve each year.

Results of the group’s goals to “inspire excellence, instill confidence, encourage teamwork, and applaud persistence,” were clearly evident on the Schrott stage. Playing to a packed house, the event was also live streamed to six hundred households.

This year’s always joyful and energetic event, which carried a critical message about planet Earth and the importance of protecting its beauty and wonder, was performed by nearly 100 children of the inclusive KDO. Supporting the production was a team of teaching artists, staff, and volunteers. Accompanying the young performers was the KDO Band consisting of 14 professional musicians and singers, all of them outstanding, conducted by Jeffrey DeHerdt.

“Message in a Bottle: 2023 Event of the Year” – Courtesy of Jenny Danek. Used with permission.

Featured in the massive production were marvelous costumes.  Stunning, indeed, was lighting by New York-based Yael Lubetsky,  and gorgeous projected images, along with the superb narration of high school student and KDO alum, Hawk Hendrix. The fast paced, highly entertaining program included numbers with such titles as “Runs and Leaps,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “One Little Dot,” “Fireflies,” “Motherland,” “Forgiveness,” and “I’m Still Standing.” Responsible for the concert’s sparkling, infectious and often complex choreography and staging was Johnson and Muñoz, both former professional ballet dancers, in collaboration with the KDO team.

Each time I attend this event, I am always struck by the life-changing qualities it must hold for not only the KDO kids but also for their families who must immensely benefit from the positivity it generates. It appears that awareness and popularity of KDO is increasing and with it, crucial donor support, all of which bodes well for the wider community, which benefits, exponentially, as well.

For information about Kids Dance Outreach and its programs visit Kids Dance Outreach.

photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

On the Aisle Team

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