Kennedy Center Laureates Still Appreciate Lean Tribute
WASHINGTON – This year’s Kennedy Center Honors may be a lean deal as the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, but the Hon. Dick Van Dyke still says it’s ‘the cap of my career’.
The 43rd class also includes country music legend Garth Brooks, dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen, singer-songwriter Joan Baez and violinist Midori. They were honored on Friday night in a medallion ceremony that had been delayed from December 2020.
All the winners called the award for artistic achievement a lifetime of unique honor, even for an accomplished artist.
Brooks joked, “I don’t mind being the weak link in the chain. I am in the chain!
Several of the performers said they hoped their altered ceremony would be part of a series of milestones in the country’s cultural reopening.
Midori said it made her happy, “coming out of these very dark times, to be able to see the arts come back.”
Allen is a veteran of Kennedy Center Honors Past Recipients. She said this year’s process was particularly intimate. “We spend a lot more time together than the other groups of winners,” she said.
Baez has brought an unexpected guest: Dr Anthony Fauci.
Baez paints portraits and posts them online, and she painted one of the Fauci last year. They started talking and “struck a mutual fan-ship,” Baez said.
Instead of the usual multi-hour black tie event followed by dinner, the Friday festivities lasted just 90 minutes with a limited audience. The musical performances and tributes – traditionally the centerpiece of the event – were split into two further evenings; one took place on Thursday and the second is scheduled for Saturday.
Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter Rutter told reporters they “filmed tributes all over campus.” All of the events will be edited in a TV special, which airs on CBS on June 6.
The laureats met President Joe Biden Thursday, marking a return to tradition after former President Donald Trump avoided the celebration during his tenure. Trump’s White House presence has hovered over annual events from the start, with several 2017 winners threatening to boycott if he attended.
Trump has chosen to stay on the sidelines for the duration of his tenure, quiet of administrators who otherwise might have faced an uprising by artists.
The performing arts center is planning a large-scale reopening in September with events slowly accelerating until then. The 44th Kennedy Center Honors program is scheduled to take place, on its regular schedule, in December.