With the DC Heart Ball only a few days away (February 23rd 2013), WashingtonExec sat down with Christopher Janney, artist, composer and architect. Janney’s unique piece HeartBeat is set to be this year’s live performance for the DC Heart Ball. Music will be performed by the Brooklyn-based acapella group The Persuasions, with choreography performed by Emily Coates, former member of the New York City ballet.
Janney, a native Washingtonian, has worked with the American Heart Association (AHA) for a number of years.
“I have always thought that doing this piece in the context of the Heart Ball and the American Heart Association would be ideal. Then I was in discussion with Jay Blackwell, Executive Director for the Heart Association, Greater Washington Region, and he mentioned that they were going to have the DC Heart Ball in the National Building Museum. I grew up in DC and I greatly admire that building. I thought it would be such a great opportunity to perform this work in that building for this group of people,” said Janney.
The DC Heart Ball annually brings over 500 corporate, healthcare and community leaders. As with all black-ties, the evening will have both live and silent auctions. The event schedule also includes a special presentation to honor U.S. military service men and women called the Heart Heros Program.
“They completely re-vamped it this year, by bringing it into the iconic National Building Museum. The Heart Ball is a premiere society event; it is a celebration of the life-saving work of the American Heart Association…I have also heard there will be an after party hosted by PULSE– the American Heart Association’s young professionals committee. It will be a very full and exciting evening,” said Janney.
When asked what inspired him to compose HeartBeat, which uses dancer Emily Coates’ “live” heart beat as the baseline, Janney replied:
“A few different sources. My father died of a heart attack in 1979; I started to work on the project around 1980. At that time I was an artist-in-residence at MIT, so I had access to a great technological resources, and that helped move the technological side along. Also, my principal instrument is the drums and the percussion, so I was interested in how I could use the human heart beat for a live percussion track in a performance. For this latest incarnation, I wanted to develop the music as well as the performance-so I asked my all-time favorite acapella group-the Persuasions. I composed some original rhythm and blues music for the group to sing over the dancer’s heartbeat while she is performing.”
This year’s Greater Washington Heart Ball plans to raise more than $1.5 million. Funds from the event will go towards local and national causes, ranging from large research and development projects to local education programs.
“The dollars raised through the Heart Ball will go to local and national for life-saving medical research, advocacy, and community education. Local community outreach efforts educate the public about heart disease, stroke, and the effects of childhood obesity. The funds from this Heart Ball also go toward national research and initiatives. Research funded by the AHA has yielded medical breakthroughs including the creation of an artificial valve, clot-busting drugs, pace-makers, angioplasty, medicine to control cholesterol etc. It’s been incredibly important, like discovering the link between smoking and heart disease, food-labeling guidelines—it has led to a lot of good things!,” Janney told WashingtonExec.
Companies and individuals interested in participating in the ball can go to DCHeartBall.com or call Kristin Baier at (703) 248-1717 (or email@example.com). Tables are still available.