Crystal Bridges museum celebrates Fifth Anniversary as live ‘Art of American Dance’ events continue

By Glenda Rice Collins, Arts Columnist

Bentonville, Ark., USA–Today marks the fifth anniversary of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, as live performances and special events continue to also reflect the current exhibition, The Art of American Dance, which continues through January 16, 2017.   

Tonight’s Performance lab features Previewing FastDANCEPast by SLIPPAGE with Thomas F. DeFrantz who will present the interactive performance FastDANCEPast.

According to The Black Scholar website, DeFrantz is Chair of African and African American Studies and Professor of Dance, and Theater Studies at Duke University. His books include the edited volume Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance(2002) and Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (2004) and Black Performance Theory co-edited with Anita Gonzalez.

Using green-screen technology with live dancers. DeFrantz will share how he created this uniquely designed performance incorporating technology, and will discuss cross-cultural relations found in dance history embedded in the performance.  Free, register online or by calling Guest Services at 479.657.2335.

Saturday night, November 12, will feature Art Night Out » Dance, Dance, Dance!  with dance inspired by The Art of American Dance, from big-band swing to disco and techno.

The evening’s performances include FastDANCEPast with SLIPPAGE, an interactive multimedia show exploring dance history using green-screen technology; an environmental dance by Native American contemporary dance company Dancing Earth; Performers from Tulsa Modern Movement in the galleries;


and a classical Isadora Duncan dance by choreographer and dance history scholar Alice Bloch, pictured above during a recent Crystal Bridges presentation in the Great Hall. A cash bar will be available for guests ages 21 and up with appropriate ID.  Ages 16 and up.

Free for artinfusion Members, $16 for Members, and $20 for non-Members. Register online or by calling Guest Services at 479.657.2335.

The Art of American Dance

Exploring the variety of ways Americans embrace dance as part of everyday life, as well as the diverse forms of professional dance, including burlesque, flamenco, and classical ballet, the exhibition highlights the central place dance has held in American culture and in the imagination of American artists.

The Art of American Dance examines dance-inspired paintings, prints, sculptures, and photographs from the 1830s to the recent past—from dance in Native American cultures to ballroom dancing, to Jitterbug, swing, modern dance, and others

Historical Notes at a Glance

Some 2.7 million visitors have visited Crystal Bridges museum since it’s 11-11-11 grand opening, which having been inspired by the vision and dedication of founder and board chair Alice Walton, has been referred to as “Alice’s Wonderland.”

Crystal Bridges architect:  Moshe Safdie, CC, FAIA,  an Israeli/Canadian/American architect, urban designer, educator, theorist, and author. He is most identified with Habitat 67, which paved the way for his distinguished international career.

Soon after opening, Crystal Bridges announced American Encounters, a four-year collaboration with The Musée du Louvre, the High Museum of Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. This partnership was aimed at broadening appreciation for and dialogue about American art both within the U.S. and abroad.

Reflecting on the five-year anniversary, Walton noted, “I knew this museum was needed. I grew up here and didn’t have access to art and I knew we wanted to change that. What I underestimated was how much people wanted to have access to that great art. Our team has done a wonderful job capturing repeat visitors and making it truly a community center. I think that’s a really important part. I’ve never met anybody in the museum who doesn’t talk about feeling welcomed.”

Themes of strong women and diversity can be noticed throughout the museum’s vast collection of masterpieces, as are multiple events focused on educational opportunities, cultural diversity, and a multitude of ongoing special events for all ages — all contributing to a vibrant community. “You belong here,” is a meaningful Crystal Bridges slogan..

The museum was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a non-profit private operating foundation for all to enjoy. Soon after inception, an application process was initiated to convert from private operating to public charity status. After a five-year assessment, the museum has received official notification of its public charity status. 

“The public charity status ensures that we will continue to have a variety of funding sources,” says Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Executive Director & Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, “…and opens up even more possibilities for grants and support that will help broaden the reach of Crystal Bridges’ educational programs.”

Arkansas’s first Frank Lloyd Wright House  

In 2013, the museum acquired a classic “Usonian” house designed by celebrated American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who also received the prestigious AIA award. Known as the Bachman-Wilson House, the structure was originally built in 1954. Crystal Bridges preserved it from its original site in danger of repeated flooding, reconstructed it on the museum grounds, and opened to the public on November 11, 2015.

(See also: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opens first Frank Lloyd Wright House in Arkansas, published November 12, 2015 on this website).

‘Adaptive Reuse’ Project to serve the arts by 2019

Crystal Bridges recently announced new development of an innovative visual art space, performance venue for music, film, and theatre, and multi-disciplinary artists-in-residence program to be housed within a freestanding building in downtown Bentonville. The project will involve adaptive reuse of a decommissioned Kraft Foods plant, located 1.5 miles south of Crystal Bridges, into a vibrant facility for visual and performing arts. The new venue is expected to open in 2019.

For more information, visit

img_5593Credits:  Photos by Glenda Rice Collins.  All rights reserved.

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