Frank Gatson Jr. to Open Intergenerational Performing Arts and Athletics Center in Hometown (IPAAC)
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Award-winning director/choreographer Frank Gatson Jr. is partnering with the YWCA of Southeast Wisconsin to open an Intergenerational Performing Arts and Athletics Center (IPAAC) in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A benefit gala and awards ceremony will be held on Dec. 28th, 2022 to celebrate and raise awareness of the facility. Tickets here.
If you’ve bared witness to the choreography in a number of Beyoncé's music videos and tours you have probably seen the work of the multi-hyphenated, world-renowned director and choreographer Frank Gatson Jr.
Since landing his first professional dancing gig in Micheal Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”, for over 40 years Gatson has helped conceptualize creative projects for artists such as Brandy, En Vogue, Usher, Mariah Carey, Maxwell, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Fantasia, SWV, Backstreet Boys, Little Mix, Fifth Harmony and more.
With his artistic imagination in tow, Gatson is giving back to the youth and community members in his hometown Milwaukee, Wisconsin by redeveloping the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin (SEW) building as co-founder and creative director.
"I have done many great things in my life, but this Intergenerational Performing Arts and Athletic Center venture is the most exciting moment of my career," Gatson shared exclusively with Gaye Magazine.
Gatson revealed that after moving his mother back to Milwaukee from Los Angeles, he received a phone call from his friend and newly appointed YWCA SEW CEO Tracy L. Willams. During their call, Williams asked Gatson for advice as she and the board were contemplating selling the company's Southeast Wisconsin headquarters building after receiving an offer.
"I decided to check out the building just as a favor to help her figure out what to do with it. Right then I knew...I felt it was my calling to open the center. After touring the building I told Tracy, 'I know exactly what to do with this.'"
In June Brandy joined Gatson and Williams at Alverno College in Milwaukee for the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin Circle of Women event. During the event, the trio stood before the YWCA board members and hundreds of local business and community leaders to pitch the IPAAC concept and advocate for increased economic empowerment and racial justice programming.
"I am so honored to have Brandy onboard. Her wonderful presence was instrumental in helping the board see our vision," said Gatson.
"After touring the building, I traveled to Utah to meet with Brandy during a movie shoot and told her about the Center. She immediately told me, "Let's do it, I'll come help," and offered to talk to the board."
The 70,000-square-foot center is located in the heart of Bronzeville Cultural Entertainment District in Downtown Milwaukee and will host a variety of activities and programs with the intent to build bridges between races and cultures.
While attending the Intergenerational Performing Arts and Athletics Center, people of all generations will have access to world-renowned instructors, choreographers, and workshops, which they can choose from a variety of arts-centered disciplines such as singing, dancing, and athletic activities such as track & field, tennis, and basketball. Attending athletes will be offered to learn dance as the Center will make arts and athletics interwoven into the curriculum.
"A lot of people, especially male athletes, judge dance [ballet, contemporary, jazz], but bringing art, athletics, and science together actually helps them improve their performance," said Gatson.
In celebration of the center's launch, Gatson will host the YWCA Gala and Awards ceremony on Wednesday, December 28 at the Marcus Performing Arts Center in an effort to raise funds.
Joining Gatson at the helm of the Intergenerational Performing Arts and Athletic Center will be Grammy-winning singer Brandy Norwood, former Alvin Ailey Dancer and choreographer Anthony Burrell, 9-time Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis, and IPAAC Co-Founder and YWCA SEW CEO Tracy L. Williams.
"We will infuse programming with international talent to teach, guide, and mentor our community members. The discipline gained from opportunities of the Center will transcend social challenges into bright futures," said Tracy L. Williams.
The gala is set to honor locals who have impacted the Southeast Wisconsin region. Impact Award Honorees for the event include Dr. Denita Ball, Kenneth Lock II, Phyllis Smith, Tina Johnson Williams & Orlando Williams - Savoy’s, Arlene Skwierawski, Sarah Grant, Nicholas Payne, Austin “Ammo” Williams, Keith & Dr. Tanzanique Carrington, Tina Nixon, Beverley & Albert Holmes, Faithe Colas, Sheila Mayhorn, Tamara Moore, and Telisa Yancy.
Special performances will be made by Brandy, Luke James, En Vogue, Chanté Moore, Le'Andria Johnson, MAJOR., and the 40+ Double Dutch Club and many more.
Gatson tells Gaye Magazine that he is extremely excited about the new Center and looks forward to continuing all YWCA programming.
"I get to give back. Imagine, a young boy like me from Milwaukee, Wisconsin getting to do all these amazing things in show business. Now, I get to share my knowledge with a new generation and I have a lot of information."