STAFF SPOTLIGHT: What’s an “ethnomusicologist” anyway?

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Meet Anne Kogan, our Programming Manager who works tirelessly to bring entertainment to the Center that appeals to all of Dallas’ communities.

How long have you worked for the Center?

A year and a half, which is also how long I’ve lived in Dallas. I came to the Center the very first day I moved here and got to see some old friends, The Quebe Sisters, play in Strauss Square. I hadn’t even started work yet, but it was so wonderful to see some of my favorite music performed in a venue I was about to get to dig into booking.

What’s your favorite show/program/series to work on at the Center and why?

I mostly work with Center Presents shows – the single-night, touring acts. I love that it’s an opportunity to put together the puzzle of artists to bring to Dallas and to the Center, what kind of new projects are out there, and how to connect with a wide range of communities through performing arts.

Speaking of connecting with a wide range of communities through performing arts, you’re an ethnomusicologist. Can you tell us what that is?

Ethnomusicology is basically studying how communities use music and how it fits into their lives- taking an anthropological approach and using music as a lens to learn about a different community. Understanding that all forms of art are valid, dancing in your kitchen or dancing on a stage – it’s not always performer and audience based. Sometimes people claim to not be artists or musicians, but they dance and sing with their families. It’s a way of engaging with art in a way that enriches your life. So that’s influenced my daily thinking and my value system.

You’ve done this in different places around the world; What does someone like you aim to do in a city like Dallas?

We start with giving people an opportunity to experience something they haven’t before, and you can learn something new about a community here just by seeing a performer. But people should participate in art, and see themselves as active participants rather than just part of an audience. I want to break down those walls. It starts with getting different people on stage, so audiences can learn about people they coexist with but don’t often interact with. People can see art from other cultures as valid, bringing a more cosmopolitan and holistic array of experiences – democratizing it and removing some of the exoticism.

Is there an upcoming show you’re most excited about?

David Byrne because I’m personally a fan. But also Bill Murray, Rita Moreno… and everything else!

We have some shows coming up that are about taking down the walls that exist between genres: Cameron Carpenter combines rock and classical, then there’s Apocalyptica… I like to see how people engage with art that has no boxes.

Who’s your favorite performing artist overall, Center-related or not?

This is a trick question for a programmer. I have too many to pick just one, so I’ll just say that I’ve seen incredible big shows from artists like Beyonce, Dolly Parton, and Anohni, and they were each so powerful. But I love artists like Big Freedia who make you dance all night, or Rhiannon Giddens, whose songs and gorgeous voice make me cry every time.

What’s your favorite venue on our campus?

I love Strauss Square – it’s such a treat to be able to see a killer show under the stars. The Winspear is gorgeous, and the Wyly is a spectacular space, but there’s just something special about being outside at Strauss.

Strauss Square

Are you involved or connected to art or the performing arts outside of your work at the Center?

I’ve always played instruments or danced outside of work. Right now I take hip hop dance classes! But I don’t perform, it’s all just for my own enjoyment.

What’s the best thing about living in Dallas?

There’s always something to do, and people here are SO nice! The arts and food scenes are so much fun to explore. I love it here!

This is Dallas, so I have to ask who your favorite sports team is.


Favorite food truck?

Anything with bahn mi!

Finish this sentence: “When I’m not at the Center, you can find me…”

In dance classes or at a concert around town. Or eating at new restaurants!

What can we expect from the Center’s programming in the future?

Short answer: you’re going to see things diversify even more, not just in terms of racial and cultural equity, but different types of art forms, different types of engagement with art. We’ll also start to see more robust seasons where we have more activity than we have before, where there’s always something happening on campus. All of our spaces are being activated in many ways and it’s exciting.

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