Creative Pinellas 2021 Artist Laureate
Helen French

St. Petersburg native and Julliard trained dancer Helen French was named Artist Laureate by Creative Pinellas in March of this year. Since then, she has been working behind the scenes with their team to develop a comprehensive program of arts activities centered around dance. The Artist Laureate role is to partner and collaborate with Creative Pinellas in advancing the arts community in Pinellas County and to act as a bridge between artists and the organization. During Helen’s term, she hopes to elevate experiences for dancers and dance audiences, to increase communication and collaboration within the dance community, and to encourage artists in visual, literary, musical, and other arts disciplines to engage with dance.

Creative Pinellas and Helen French already have a number of collaborations planned. During her time as Artist Laureate, Helen will respond in movement and dance to various works of art and exhibitions featured in the Gallery at Creative Pinellas. One of her first performances will be at the Emerging Artist Exhibition which opens July 14th, 2021. That will be followed by a dance response to the COVID Ribbon Memorial which will be on display in the courtyard outside the gallery throughout the summer. Additional dance collaborations will take place including at the Arts Annual Exhibition in November.

Helen and Creative Pinellas will also be hosting a series of monthly community meetings in an effort to bring the dance community together and discuss how to strengthen it. These meetings will take place in August 2021 through February 2022. To cap off the year, Helen will collaborate with artist Sharon Ranieri McCaman who creates large-scale sculptures. Sharon’s artwork will be on display at the Gallery at Creative Pinellas and Helen will create a performance interacting and telling a story with the exhibition pieces.

A native of St. Pete and graduate of Gibbs High School Pinellas County Center for the Arts, French received her BFA from The Juilliard School and was a dancer with the prestigious Buglisi Dance Theatre in New York City, with whom she toured nationally and internationally for many years.

Helen French is committed to arts education and developing the next generation of artists as well as contributing to the arts community she lives in. She is a founding member of the St. Petersburg Dance Alliance, serves on the board of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and co-produces Beacon, a performance series. Currently she is on the faculty of St. Petersburg College.

In addition, Helen is working with Creative Pinellas to create a dance residency program which will run September 8th through October 17th and include an open studio environment where dancers can rehearse, collaborate, and create choreography. The space will be open to the public and visitors will be invited to observe, interact, and respond. In conjunction with the dance residency, the Gallery at Creative Pinellas will feature an exhibition of dance photography by both professional and emerging artists.

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