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IDEA Week Sparks Arts Awareness, Ambitions

Liz Tausner
Maintaining your passion through every rejection….
Always believing in your personal creativity…
Understanding the psyche of perennial optimist SpongeBob Square Pants…

These are just some of the themes heard during the “Spark an IDEA" Arts Festival being held throughout this week on the D-E campus. Initiated and led by Upper School students, I.D.E.A. stands for “Intensifying Dwight-Englewood Arts.”  The event has been a huge success, featuring D-E alumni who are now successfully pursuing careers in the arts. Providing a blend of thoughtful reflections of earlier days at D-E and motivational messages about the importance of pursuing what you love to do, the festival has been rewarding for both the student and faculty audiences and presenting alumni. 

Highlights of the Festival have included solo instrumental and vocal performances by Chip Thomas '99, Sidd Khosla '94 and Andrew Burton '83; a compelling powerpoint demonstrating the power of creative movement in community theater by choreographer Sabrina Peck '80; and a highly-appreciated video sneak preview of upcoming Nickelodeon Channel programs, by Cyma Zarghami ’80, President of Nickelodeon and MTV Networks’ Kids & Family Group. A brief Q & A session has followed each presentation, which for many has been the best part of the entire event.

According to Michael Hajjar ‘11, President of IDEA , the Festival is the result of nine months of planning. He notes, “Our goal was to encourage more students involved in the artistic realm in and outside of D-E. We want students to realize that alumni, who may have participated in the arts while attending Dwight-Englewood School, now work in the arts world and have interesting careers and lives.”

The "Spark an IDEA” Arts Festival presenting alumni include the following:

Laurie Woodrow ’78
Executive Vice President, Fierce Entertainment
Laurie Woodrow has 20 years experience in international film distribution and specializes in acquisitions and worldwide distribution of all types of films including major titles and award-winning festival films.  Based in Los Angles, Woodrow has most recently been involved in critically-acclaimed cinematic hits Black Swan and The Kids are Alright.

Paul Lucas '79
Principal, Paul Lucas Productions
Mr. Lucas produces and manages plays and readings in New York and the annual Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. This year he is proud to be producing A Conversation with Edith Head, Dai (Enough), and Woody Sez-The Words, Music & Spirit of Woody Guthrie as well as several other works.

Cyma Zarghami '80
President, Nickelodeon and MTV Networks’ Kids & Family Group
Ms. Zarghami, a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award of Dwight-Englewood School, joined Nickelodeon in 1985 and became the channel’s General Manager in 1996 overseeing all aspects of programming, scheduling, acquisitions, marketing and management of the network. In 2006, she was promoted to President of the Kids & Family Group which includes Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, teenNick, Noggin, and Nicktoons Network.

Chip Thomas '99
Musician, PaperDoll Band
Mr. Thomas is the drummer and business manager of the indie rock band PaperDoll which is based in New York City. The band gained national attention in the US in early 2010 when their song "If Nothing Happened" was featured in a national TV commercial for Vick's Dayquil. The same song on the commercial "If Nothing Happened" was also named in Blender's "Five Songs We Love" in March 2010. He currently is also working for a start -up music company, Nxtm, LLC, formerly an MTV entity. Their clients include Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and many indie bands.

Sidd Khosla ’94
Lead Vocalist and Musician, Goldspot
Mr. Khosla founded the band Goldspot in 1999 in Los Angeles and since then they have recorded two albums. “Tally of the Yes Men” which was released in 2007 and “And the Elephant is Dancing” which was released last fall have both been very successful. Mr. Khosla also has branched into writing music for soundtracks including the film Today’s Special which was released last fall.

Sabrina Peck ’80
Director, Choreographer
Ms. Peck conceives, directs and choreographs original theater works infused with movement and music. Recent works include Waiting, with former Bosnian refugees at Wave Hill Gardens in New York; and To the River, with 40 children from Hell's Kitchen. As a director, Peck most often collaborates with living playwrights and recently, Peck and playwright Chiori Miyagawa conceived and developed The Antigone Project, a reimagining of the Sophocles by five contemporary women. A graduate of Harvard University, Peck initiated City Steps, a Harvard-based public school arts dance program. Among other projects she's been associated with,  Peck has choreographed The Clean House at Lincoln Center Theater and Henry VIII for New York's Shakespeare in the Park.  Peck is a recipient of the D-E Distinguished Alumni Award.

Andrew Burton '83
Keyboardist, vocalist, and composer
Burton has been a member of bands that have signed with major record companies and has performed at the Beacon Theatre, Radio City, Carnegie Hall and on The Craig Ferguson Show, PBS, and the Jools Holland Show. He has toured four different continents and has arranged, recorded, and played music for major films like Revolutionary Road. He currently owns and operates his own project studio in Hoboken called Tannery Row Recording, which is known for its vintage keyboard equipment.  

Jesse Mills '97
Jesse Milles graduated from Julliard after graduating from D-E. He has performed in prestigious venues throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, including London, Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, Milan, Dresden and Brussels. Two time Grammy-nominated Mills is known as a pioneer of contemporary works, a renowned improvisational artist, as well as a composer. He is a member of Duo Prism, an ensemble that plays a full spectrum of works composed for piano and violin duo and which won first prize at the Zinetti International Competition in Italy in 2006. Mills also regularly appears with 315 East, D-E’s resident professional chamber ensemble, which performs in the Head of School Series.
Located in Englewood, New Jersey, Dwight-Englewood is a greater New York City area private school with a rigorous college prep curriculum for boys and girls in preschool through grade 12.