(Washington, D.C.) The Atlas Board of Directors has named Douglas Yeuell Executive Director of the Atlas Performing Arts Center. His appointment comes four months after serving as Interim Chief Operating Officer (COO) following the departure of former Executive Director Sam Sweet. During his tenure as Interim COO, Yeuell has overseen all aspects of operations, administration and programming in advance of the Atlas’ 2014-15 performance season.
“The Atlas Board of Directors is delighted that Doug will assume the leadership of the Atlas,” says Atlas Board Chairman and Founder Jane Lang. “He is an outstanding and highly regarded arts leader with a profound commitment to the mission of the Atlas, as well as the ability to achieve our goals in the arts and the community.”
Committed to the Atlas’ mission of fostering the artistic growth of professional and aspiring artists, Yeuell’s key initiatives include maintaining a high quality roster of contemporary performances and partnerships with DC’s vibrant and emerging performing artists in theatre, music, spoken word, dance and choral arts. Yeuell will also focus on enhancing current arts partners’ relationships within the arts community and at the Atlas.
“The Atlas is a state-of-the-art performance venue well-known for presenting new and contemporary performances and for nurturing a diverse range of artists,” shares Yeuell. “Additionally, the Atlas is regarded as the main catalyst for the revitalization of the H Street NE community. I am pleased to be part of that success and ever-evolving growth.”
Yeuell also plans to increase the Atlas’ profile in arts education through the development of outreach and educational programs.
“The Atlas is a model of artistic excellence due to its performances and community engagement activities,” continues Yeuell. “I look forward building its reputation as a leading performing arts venue and destination for art, culture and connection in the Greater Washington metropolitan area.
Prior to joining the Atlas and since 1989, Yeuell served as the Executive and Artistic Director of Joy of Motion Dance Center (JOMDC). His ability to leverage Joy of Motion’s “Dance is for Everyone” mission resulted in growing the organization from a one-room studio to a financially strong performing arts organization with 3 locations serving tens of thousands of children and adults every year. Under his leadership, Joy of Motion reaches over 500 District of Columbia school children each school season through 10 partner schools and provided scholarships to more than 70 youth students during the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Yeuell’s 25 years as a leader and arts educator is evidenced through his work in the development of numerous and significant education programs for adults and youth coupled with substantial outreach and volunteer initiatives. His “Dance is For Everyone” platform became the mission of Joy of Motion Dance Center and has succeeded in uniting Washington’s diverse communities through dance and the arts. During his tenure, Joy of Motion Dance Center received two Mayor’s Arts Awards for Excellence in Service to the Arts (2002) and for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education (2009).
About Douglas Yeuell
For nearly 25 years, Douglas Yeuell was the Artistic and Executive Director of Joy of Motion Dance Center. During his tenure, JOMDC has expanded from a one-room studio to a major performing arts organization with 3 locations. In addition to increasing the scope of dance classes, workshops, and performing ensembles offered by JOMDC, Yeuell launched outreach initiatives to schools in Maryland, Virginia, and the District, and secured the designation of JOMDC as a regional dance center for the DEA Youth Dance Program. Yeuell was integral in the development and construction of new dance studios for JOMDC as part of the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Northeast DC in 2004. Yeuell, in addition to his administrative work, has had an active career as arts educator and artist at numerous institutions throughout the country and world. He has taught at numerous colleges and universities throughout the United States, has been a guest teacher for Dance Masters of America, and has taught internationally in Italy, Russia, and Austria. As a dancer and artist, Yeuell has performed throughout the region as a soloist and choreographer, and was also the director of his own jazz dance ensemble, Jazzdanz/dc, as well as student based dance groups. Actively engaged in the local arts community, Yeuell has served on the Board of Directors of the Capital Region Educators of Dance Organization, the Grants Committee of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, and the Arts and Entertainment Advisory Committee of the Bethesda Urban Partnership. He served as the Chair of the Board for Dance Metro DC and is currently the Chair of Dance Bethesda – an annual dance festival held in downtown Bethesda, Maryland, and a member of the CulturalDC Board of Directors. Yeuell was awarded the Alan M. Kriegsman Award at the 2008 Metro DC Dance Awards for his service to the dance community.
The Atlas is back.
For three days last week, art patrons donned tuxedos and evening
dresses to mingle, listen to music and take in a play at the Atlas
Performing Arts Center on H Street NE. The black-tie events were part
of a five-day grand opening that organizers hope will serve notice that
one of the city’s historic commercial hubs is resurrected after a
hiatus that began during the turbulent 1960s.
The riots in 1968 sent many businesses running to the suburbs, leaving
strips such as H Street barren and boarded up. But gradually, as the
city’s fortunes have risen, so have those of H Street, attracting
condominiums, bars and, more recently, the arts.
The Atlas, which opened in 1938 as a movie house, is part of that
renaissance. Three dance studios that are part of the complex have been
open for more than a year. But for many residents, the recent
celebration was their first time seeing the new facility, which boasts
two performance theaters, a cafe, dressing rooms and offices.
“This is beautiful,” Nina M. Martin, 76, and a resident of the District
since 1955, said as she entered the sparkling new building. Martin
remembered attending 25-cent movies on Saturdays, a memory shared by
her neighbor, Mary Hinson, 71.
“We need this,” said Martin, recalling how the riots after Martin
Luther King Jr.’s assassination sent the nation and the city reeling.
Smoke rose over the city as stores and homes burned to the ground,
youngsters clashed with police and troops flooded the streets. “I
couldn’t get home. I have never seen a place look so bad.”
Nearly four decades later, things are looking up on H Street. In
addition to the Atlas, which bills itself as a community performing
arts center that will house companies currently without a base, there
are new yoga studios, coffee shops, fitness centers and restaurants
hoping to rekindle some of the magic old-timers remember.
Meredith “Ann” Belkov, for instance, remembers her father’s grocery
store, McBride’s variety store, a lady’s dress store named Kopy Kat and
her alma mater, Eastern High School. Although the city was segregated,
Belkov said her family regularly mingled with people of other races and
religions and volunteered at a black church after the riots.
“It was one of the saddest times to see smoke rising across the city,”
said Belkov, who is a member of the Atlas board of directors.
A former director of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration
Museum in New York, Belkov was all smiles this weekend, watching a
children’s hip-hop dance group perform and as hundreds took in a
musical commissioned for the opening that recounts the lives of
immigrants — Jews, Irish, German — who once lived around H Street,
co-existing with black residents. The play’s title is “Coming Home.”
Officials said the goal is to make the Atlas feel like home to others.
Among the partners that will use the space are the African Continuum
Theater, Joy of Motion Dance Center, Capital City Symphony and Levine
School of Music. Groups that use the space are required to perform
community outreach and education programs.
The gleaming, expansive space that begs outsiders to come in is a far
cry from what the center’s principal founder, Jane Lang, saw five years
ago when she had the idea to create such a space. She said it was
More than $20 million later, Lang has changed her tune.
“I couldn’t visualize it,” she said during the recent celebration. “So
every time something was completed, I would say, ‘Oh, this is what this
is going to look like.’ “
At the opening, what it looks like got plenty of accolades.
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