Every year, thousands of high-school students from around the country audition for The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts' YoungArts program, which offers the chance to be mentored by some of the world's greatest artists in an intimate, interactive classroom environment. The nine-part HBO Family documentary series 'Masterclass' chronicles this unique program.
In each episode, a world-class artist talks intimately with a small group of exceptionally talented teenagers. The artist, in turn, is reminded that these encounters are a two-way street, with the teacher re-learning important truths from eager students.
Episode #1: Placido Domingo
The world's greatest living tenor, Placido Domingo has sung more than 125 roles and has a burning desire to share his knowledge. Rather than focus on technique, Domingo teaches the students to convey emotion, to express "great feeling" in the pieces they perform.
Episode #2: Liv Ullmann
Liv Ullmann, a two-time Oscar® nominee (and former muse of the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman), draws on her 50 years in film and on stage to gently but firmly guide a group of young actors as they study and play out scenes from "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Episode #3: Edward Albee
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee analyzes the work of four young writers to help them find their unique voices. After reading and commenting on their efforts, he meets with Chris, Michael, Phoebe and Asher to share his thoughts and challenge their assumptions.
Episode #4: Jacques d'Amboise
Jacques d'Amboise, New York City ballet legend and founder of the National Dance Institute, leads a group of young dancers through the process of creating a dance in five hours, then takes the show on the road to perform at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
Episode #5: Olafur Elliason
Known for works such as New York City Waterfalls, which change people's perspective on their environment, Olafur Eliasson invites Jason, James, Gabrielle, Siena and Julie to his Berlin studio and challenges them to see their surroundings in a new way with an environmental art project.
The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts' YoungArts program annually selects 150 teenagers from an applicant pool of more than 7,000 to travel to Miami and participate in workshops. Founded in 1981, this non-profit organization is dedicated to identifying emerging artists and assisting them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development, and to raising the appreciation for, and support of, the arts in American society.
'Masterclass' is produced and directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, whose films have received four Academy Award® nominations and three Emmy(r) Awards. They received an Oscar® nomination in the Best Documentary Short category and an Emmy(r) for Best Documentary for the 1990 HBO special "Chimps: So Like Us." Among their other HBO and CINEMAX credits are 1997's "Heart of a Child," the 2004's 13-part series "Kindergarten" and 2007's "Rehearsing a Dream," a Best Documentary Short Oscar® nominee. 'Masterclass' is a Production of Simon & Goodman Picture Company; produced and directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon.