- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 10, 2004

By design

Tennis star Serena Williams thinks pretty highly of her talents as a clothing designer.

“I’m an unbelievable designer. I don’t know how I know and just do these things,” she gushed of herself, according to Associated Press.

“I just start sketching, and then I just know the colors, and I always know the forecast. I know green and purple are going to be hot.

“I was born to be a designer. I worked hard to be a tennis player; I don’t work hard to be a designer,” she said.

Miss Williams has created an on-court stir over the years with her skintight outfits, including a leather-looking cat suit she wore as a 20-year-old at the 2002 U.S. Open.

She’s now designing outfits she plans to wear on the circuit next year.

Changing of the guard

The Washington Ballet has a new executive director.

Jason Palmquist comes to the company after 11 years at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Mr. Palmquist, currently vice president for dance administration at the KenCen, brings experience that should well serve the ambitious, fast-growing company.

He joins a staff headed by artistic director Septime Webre that has grown immeasurably of late, with the addition of Rebecca Wright as director of the Washington School of Ballet and Jeff Edwards as associate artistic director.

A colleague at the Kennedy Center described Mr. Palmquist’s rise there as “meteoric.” Fresh out of college, he started at the center as an intern and was a vice president within a decade.

“I feel that this is a company on the verge of taking the next big step,” Mr. Palmquist says of his new position. “I was blown away by their recent performance of ‘Giselle.’ It is inconceivable that they could have done this a few years ago.”

Mr. Webre is enthusiastic about the skills and contacts Mr. Palmquist brings with him. “I think he’s a rising star,” Mr. Webre says. “He’s had a fantastic mentor in Michael Kaiser (president of the Kennedy Center). Jason has proven to be a successful fund-raiser for the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and he has great business savvy — he’s essentially managed an $11-million-dollar budget at the Kennedy Center.”

Mr. Palmquist begins his directorship Dec. 1.

By Jean Battey Lewis

Cream rising

Rumor has it that Cream will reunite for a string of shows next year at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Cream hasn’t performed together since its 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Billboard.com hears that the trio will begin rehearsals early next year, with an eye on a weeklong run of gigs at Albert Hall.

The ‘60s supergroup — singer-guitarist Eric Clapton, drummer Ginger Baker and singer-bassist Jack Bruce — played its final shows at Albert Hall before splitting in November 1968.

It’s unknown if plans call for a subsequent tour.

‘Idol’ smashing

Having suffered the slings and arrows of Elton John, Madonna had some dissing of her own to do.

In an interview with ABC Radio Networks that aired yesterday, the singer slammed “American Idol” for appealing to viewers’ schadenfreude.

“I think people are obsessed with other people’s failures or heartaches, and I think it gives people a certain kind of a thrill to watch [‘Idol’ contestants] go down,” she said.

Asked if she’d like the talent show to devote an episode to her music, as it has done with other artists, Madonna said, “No, certainly not.”

In other Material Mom news, the singer’s book publisher, Nicholas Callaway, said yesterday that Madonna will release the illustrated children’s book “Lotsa de Casha” next summer.

“All the characters in the book will be animals, and Lotsa de Casha is an Italian greyhound who has all the money in the world but no happiness,” Mr. Callaway said. “He thinks only of himself.”

Permanent vacation

Swedish pop legends ABBA will not be getting out their spangly jumpsuits, former ABBA singer Bjorn Ulvaeus announced yesterday, to the disappointment of the band’s fans everywhere.

“I can understand that people are longing for ABBA, but deep in my heart, I know that they would be deeply disappointed if they saw us back up on the stage again today,” Mr. Ulvaeus, 59, told Germany’s Bunte magazine.

“Just look at our videos,” he added. “That energy, that drive, that enthusiasm. You just wouldn’t see that anymore if the four of us got on stage today. It’s just not there.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports

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