National YoungArts Foundation honors jazz pianist Jason Moran and choreographer Jessica Lang at annual Backyard Ball performance and gala

Saturday, January 14, 2017, the National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) will host its largest annual fundraiser, the Backyard Ball performance and gala, as the culmination of the organization’s signature program, National YoungArts Week, from January 8 – 15. The celebratory evening will welcome prominent artists and alumni, community leaders, philanthropists and celebrities to the YoungArts Campus to applaud the 2017 YoungArts Winners—691 of the nation’s most promising young artists in the literary, visual, design and performing arts. The event will honor jazz pianist Jason Moran (1993 YoungArts Winner in Jazz) as this year’s Arison Alumni Award recipient, and choreographer Jessica Lang as the Arison Award Honoree for their vital contributions and commitment to the arts.

The Backyard Ball is presented by Italian luxury brand Max Mara, who continues to reinforce their ongoing commitment to supporting the arts, especially education focused, as this is their third consecutive year as a partner. The evening will be hosted by Dr. Kira and Mr. Neil Flanzraich, emceed by comedian and actress Amanda Seales (1999 YoungArts Winner in Theater), and will feature an elegant black-tie reception and seated dinner by STARR Catering Group.

Throughout the night, a series of performance vignettes directed by Tony Award-nominated actor, singer and dancer and 1997 YoungArts Winner in Theater Tony Yazbeck will be presented, featuring the following YoungArts alumni: Melinda Sullivan (2005 YoungArts Winner in Dance/Tap), Isai Jess Muñoz (1997 YoungArts Winner in Voice & Musical Theater), Daniel Winshall (2016 YoungArts Winner in Jazz), Pascal Le Beouf (2004 YoungArts Winner in Jazz), Evan Sherman (2011 YoungArts Winner in Jazz), Bri Ray (2016 YoungArts Winner in Voice/Singer/Songwriter and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Mariella Haubs (2014 YoungArts Winner in Music/Violin) and Madison Hicks (2013 YoungArts Winner in Dance/Modern).

Photo by Pedro Portal

In the YoungArts Gallery, an exhibition of visual art, design and photography by 2017 YoungArts Winners and curated by Pérez Art Museum Miami Director Franklin Sirmans will be on view.

The evening will conclude with the Backyard Bash on the YoungArts Plaza with dancing and dessert under the stars, featuring music by DJ Walshy Fire. Tickets are priced at $100 in advance / $125 at the door (taxes, fees+) and can be purchased at

National YoungArts Week aims to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and community, while offering young artists the guidance needed to prepare for the next stage of their artistic development. During the intensive, week-long and all-inclusive program, 167 artists across 10 disciplines participate in master classes and workshops with internationally recognized leaders in their field, including YoungArts Legacy Master Teachers artistic director, choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, and celebrated photographer Sylvia Plachy; American painter Will Cotton; Academy Award-winning director Doug Blush (1984 Winner in Cinematic Arts); legendary saxophonist and composer Jimmy Heath; Grammy-nominated rapper John Forte; and jewelry designer Paris Kain, among others. Throughout the week, winners’ work will be further adjudicated to determine additional award levels.

Throughout National YoungArts Week, audiences can experience the work of the next generation of artists through performances in voice, jazz, theater, dance and classical music, as well as film screenings at New World Center, writers’ readings in the YoungArts Jewel Box, and a visual arts, photography and design exhibition in the YoungArts Gallery. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

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