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When Javier Velasco got up to speak at our “Meeting of the Minds” arts and culture event last Wednesday, he began with a fun fact.

“The longest-standing artistic director of any performing arts company in San Diego is a woman — Maxine Mahon at the California Ballet. She’s been there for 45 years,” he said. “Yes, she’s my competition. But you have to give her props for being there for 45 years.”

Velasco is artistic director for another company, San Diego Ballet, and works as a freelance director and choreographer all over town.

He was one of the six presenters at our rapid-fire arts confab. Velasco focused his presentation on the wide-ranging contributions women make in local dance and theater. Watch it here:

Thanks to the Media Arts Center San Diego for partnering with us to produce these videos. We’re posting each of the six performances. Here’s the first piece: Lauren Popp’s talk on the spaces artists create in San Diego. Watch this week for the rest.

Here are a few links to the people and companies Velasco mentioned:

Maxine Mahon and California Ballet

• Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater. (We followed a competition Isaacs sponsored for young choreographers earlier this year.)

• Priscilla Allen, who was “at the forefront of redefining what women could do on stage and the kind of parts they could play,” passed away in 2008.

• Seema Sueko, co-founder of Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company. Sueko appeared in our first “Meeting of the Minds” to give an overview of the local theater ecosystem.

• Director Kirsten Brandt, formerly of Sledgehammer Theatre, is directing “Zoot Suit,” on stage now at the San Diego Repertory Theatre.

• An article from the Guardian about prejudice against female playwrights:

When US researcher Emily Glassberg Sands sent out identical scripts to theatres in the US in 2009, half with a male name and half with a female name, she found that those believed to have been written by women were rated significantly worse by artistic directors and literary managers than those written by men.

Moxie Theatre, a local company, started with a commitment to portray diverse and honest images of women in theater.

Jennifer Brawn Gittings, “winner of the San Diego Critics Circle award for costuming, ‘slash’ Moxie girl, ‘slash’ mother, showing us how to multitask.” The photograph Velasco showed came from our visit backstage to Gittings’ costume room last year.

• Delicia Turner Sonnenburg is Moxie’s artistic director.

• Velasco’s musical last year about Candye Kane ran onstage at Moxie last year. Now he’s working on a new musical, “Eternally Bad,” about mythological “bad girl” goddesses, part of the San Diego Foundation’s Creative Catalyst grant program. Here’s Velasco’s blog about the project.

What did you learn from Velasco’s presentation? What are you eager to check out? Let us know in the comments below.

I’m Kelly Bennett, Voice of San Diego arts editor. You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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