Sierra Club – Clean Power Lake County – NRG

The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign works with local community organizations to push for the retirement of coal-fired power plants in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution caused by burning coal.

In Waukegan, IL, Clean Power Lake County, an affiliate of the Beyond Coal movement, has been lobbying NRG to retire it’s coal plant on the shores of Lake Michigan. Clean Power Lake County is comprised of a variety of local community groups including religious organizations, environmental organizations, public health organizations, and the local chapter of the NAACP. NRG purchased the power plant in 2014 and wants to be a leader in the clean energy industry.

In May 2015, a representatives of Clean Power Lake County traveled to Philadelphia to sit in on NRG’s shareholders meeting to share their clean energy vision with with the CEO David Crane as well as the NRG shareholders. The Sierra Club hired me to produce this short video documenting the Clean Power Lake County representatives’ efforts. Of course, no cameras were allowed in the shareholders meeting.

Sierra Club – Clean Power Lake County – NRG from Dave Tavani on Vimeo.

Baby Doll – McCarter Theatre Center

This fall McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton is presenting a production of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll. Originally written as a screenplay and released as a film in 1956, Pierre Laville and Emily Mann have adapted Baby Doll for the stage. Although Baby Doll made its world premiere at the National Theater in London in 2000, this production is the American premiere. And Emily Mann has directed it. McCarter’s production has a great cast, including Dylan McDermott, Susannah Hoffman, Robert Joy, and Patricia Conolly. McCarter is also proud to debut a new actor: Thelma (the chicken) who plays Fussy the Hen. The play tells the story of the title character, Baby Doll (played by Susannah Hoffman), who was married off at a young age to Archie Lee Meighan (played by Robert Joy), an older man who is barely holding together his household and his cotton gin business. A mysterious fire at the nearby Syndicate Cotton Gin brings Silva Vacarro (played by Dylan McDermott) to the Meighan home looking to extract revenge of one kind or another. Baby Doll opened on September 18 and runs through October 11. The New York Times reviewed Baby Doll and even ran a clip from the production footage I shot.

Over the last month or so, I worked with Tom Miller at McCarter to produce a series of videos from the behind-the-scenes trailer, to videos documenting the process for casting the role of Fussy the Hen, to an audience testimonial video. Here are the videos we produced:

Baby Doll Behind-the-Scenes Trailer

Baby Doll Behind the Scenes Trailer – McCarter Theatre Center from Dave Tavani on Vimeo.

Chicken Audition Video

Baby Doll Chicken Auditions – McCarter Theatre Center from Dave Tavani on Vimeo.

Chicken Costuming Video

Baby Doll Chicken Costuming – McCarter Theatre Center from Dave Tavani on Vimeo.

Chicken Rehearsal Video

Baby Doll Chicken Rehearsals – McCarter Theatre Center from Dave Tavani on Vimeo.

Audience Testimonial Video

Baby Doll Testimonial – McCarter Theatre Center from Dave Tavani on Vimeo.

Words Adorned: Andalusian Poetry & Music – Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture is an organization in West Philadelphia that is dedicated to educating people about Arab culture through the arts and language. Al-Bustan holds a variety of educational and cultural events throughout the year, including a summer camp for kids. After receiving a grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Al-Bustan is presenting a multimedia project called “Words Adorned: Andalusian Poetry and Music.” The project will include several events that culminate in a concert on December 5. The concert will premiere two compositions by Kareem Roustom and Kinan Abu-afach that were inspired by muwashshahat, poetry written in Andalusia during the period of Arab rule (711-1492). Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble will perform the new compositions accompanied by The Crossing, a choir based in Philadelphia, and Palestinian guest vocalist Dalal Abu Amneh.

The events leading up to the concert are aimed at creating a cultural context to make the music and poetry more accessible to Western audiences. The concert will be one of many events in Bryn Mawr College’s Performing Arts Series at Goodhart Hall. It has been a great experience for me to work with Al-Bustan to help document the process of creating “Words Adorned.” I’ve learned a lot about the differences between Western and Arab music, muwashshahat, and the time period of Al Andalus. Below are the videos that help introduce “Words Adorned” and educate audiences about some of the aforementioned things that I’ve learned about. I’ll be posting more videos as they are completed.

“Words Adorned” Intro Video

Words Adorned: Andalusian Poetry & Music – Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture from Dave Tavani on Vimeo.

Al Andalus and Muwashshahat Video

Muwashshah – Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture from Dave Tavani on Vimeo.

More to come, as I finish editing the videos.


Grand Canyon Aurora Borealis?

This summer I had a two-day shoot in Scottsdale, AZ. My wife tagged along and we stayed for five days after the shoot. After spending some time with a friend in Tucson we drove up to the Grand Canyon. We were camping at Mather Campground on the South Rim, and one night I decided to go over to the canyon to shoot some stars. It was very clear that night (June 22) with a near full moon. I went over to Mather Point Overlook and set up my tripod and camera. There were a few other people there also doing some star photography. Once I got set up and took my first thirty second exposure, I noticed that there was some strange light appearing in the image. As I looked north across the canyon, I noticed that there did appear to be some yellowish light hovering over the North Rim. I asked a woman who was with one of the other photographers if she saw it, and she said it was probably light pollution. I took another shot and the light was in that image too. The strange thing was that in the image the yellowish light I saw was appearing as pink. I had the white balance set on daylight, so this really made no sense to me — even if it was just light pollution. It also made little sense to me that there would be light pollution to the north, when the biggest nearby city is Las Vegas, and that is to the west. Then again, I’m not expert on how light pollution works.

Strange light appears over the Grand Canyon on June 22, 2015, as seen from Mather Point Overlook. Is it the Aurora Borealis or light pollution? The Washington Post reported that the Aurora was seen as far south as Texas on June 22. (Dave Tavani)

Grand Canyon Aurora Borealis? Strange light appears over the Grand Canyon on June 22, 2015, as seen from Mather Point Overlook. Is it the Aurora Borealis or light pollution? The Washington Post reported that the Aurora was seen as far south as Texas on June 22. (Dave Tavani)

After a few minutes that strange light seemed to disappear and I tried my hand at taking some more photos of the stars above the canyon. The moon had lowered below the horizon in the south and I headed back to the campsite.

The next morning I showed my wife the images on my camera. She was really curious — and a little mad. She is somewhat obsessed with seeing the Aurora Borealis. She follows an organization that posts information about solar storms on Facebook, including maps of where the Aurora will be visible. She has proposed driving north in the middle of the night to go see it when she reads that it will be visible nearby. But we have never gone to try to see it. Immediately, she asked why I didn’t come back to the campsite to get her. But she realized that by the time I packed up my gear and got her it probably would have been gone. Later that day, when we got to our hotel in Sedona, she was looking up some information about the Aurora Borealis and saw that there had indeed been a solar storm the previous night. People were reporting sightings of the Aurora Borealis all over the west, midwest, and the east in places that never usually see the northern lights. This article from the Washington Post had crowd-sourced images from all over the country showing the Aurora as far south as Fort Davis, TX. Fort Davis is further south than Arizona’s southern border. I really have no idea what this strange light was, but considering the fact that it disappeared in front of my eyes, the fact that there was a solar storm that night, and that the Aurora Borealis was seen further south than the Grand Canyon, I think it might have been the Aurora. But I guess I’ll never know for sure.

Click here to see a few shots from our stay at the Grand Canyon.

Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre

Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre got its start in 1980 in New York City under the name The Spanish Dance Theatre. After the founder, Maria Alba, died the company moved to New Jersey in 1995 and reincorporated under the name Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre. Under the direction of Artistic Director Eva Lucena the company has flourished, reaching some 10,000-15,000 people a year through its full stage performances and art education programs. On September 25, Alborada will hold a 20th Anniversary Concert at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ. Last week, Jesse North and I went to one of Alborada’s rehearsals to get a glimpse of what the 20th anniversary performance will entail. In addition to Flamenco dancing, the company will perform classical Spanish dance and theater performances.  We were amazed by the music, the dance, the rhythms, the singing and the costumes. Some of the costumes are more than 180 years old. Check out Alborada’s “20 Years of Flamenco and Spanish Dance in New Jersey” on September 25.  It looks to be a phenomenal performance. Jesse and I produced this piece for

Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre – from Dave Tavani on Vimeo.