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Actress Annette Bening and Dancer Choreographer Donald McKayle to Receive Honorary Degrees from CalArts

Honorary degree recipient Annette Bening (center), with director Lenka Udovicki (top center), and CalArts’ students who performed with her in Medea at UCLA Live in May 2009. Photo: Scott Groller

Golden Globe recipient and four time Oscar nominee, Annette Bening, worked with actors and designers from the CalArts School of Theater for ‘Medea’ at UCLA Live, and, as a visiting artist, has discussed her insights about the craft of acting with CalArts students.


Click photo to see Donald McKaye perform in ‘Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder,' a work he created in 1959.

Legendary dancer, choreographer and teacher, Donald McKayle is among America’s “First 100 Irreplaceable Dance Treasures” and served as artistic director of dance at CalArts in the mid-1970s.

May 2, Valencia, CA—California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Co-Acting Presidents David Rosenboom and Nancy Uscher are delighted to announce that actress Annette Bening and, dancer, choreographer and teacher Donald McKayle will be the 2011 recipients of CalArts’ honorary Doctor of Arts degrees. On Friday, May 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm, Bening and McKayle will speak at the CalArts graduation ceremony and share reflections on their respective achievements in the arts.

Annette Bening is an award-winning actress of screen and stage, most recently collecting the Golden Globe for her performance in the film The Kids Are All Right. She has received four Academy Award nominations, for Kids as well as for her signature roles in The Grifters, American Beauty, and Being Julia. She memorably portrayed the character of Virginia Hill opposite her husband, Warren Beatty, in Bugsy. Bening also earned an Emmy nomination for her turn in HBO’s Mrs. Harris.

In 2009, Bening starred in UCLA Live’s staging of Medea, playing the anti-heroine of the Euripides classic in a production that also included actors and designers from the CalArts School of Theater. Bening made her Broadway debut in 1987 with a prize-winning appearance in Tina Howe’s play Coastal Disturbances. Among her other stage credits are Los Angeles productions of Hedda Gabler, at the Geffen Playhouse, and The Cherry Orchard, at the Mark Taper Forum. In addition to working with CalArts theater students, Bening has also been a visiting artist at the School of Film/Video.

Donald McKayle is a legendary dancer, choreographer and teacher who served as artistic director of dance at CalArts in the mid-1970s. Among the most influential and prolific figures in modern American dance, he has collaborated with Anna Sokolow, Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham; created classics such as Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder and District Storyville for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; earned multiple Tony nominations for his choreography on Broadway (Golden Boy, Raisin, Sophisticated Ladies), and choreographed for television, film, and music concerts by artists ranging from Harry Belafonte to Tina Turner.

McKayle has been named by the Dance Heritage Coalition of the Library of Congress as one of America’s “First 100 Irreplaceable Dance Treasures.” Beginning with his breakout 1950 work Games, his choreographic style has featured expressive narratives and potent emotions conveyed through dramatic characters, often dealing with the social realities of the African-American experience.

Last edited by dthatt on May 02, 2011
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