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Monday
Apr272015

S.E.E.K. Fayetteville

 

 

Once on The Hill

The event all of your friends will be talking about...

It’s almost time for finals and we know you're stressed, so we’ve put together a little end-of-the year event to help you relax before you take on the homestretch! With the help of Puritan Brew Co. and Fayettechill, we are co-hosting an event for students and young professionals that's sure to be the party of the season!

Do you like free beer? Giveaways? Cheap tickets? Then you aren’t going to want to miss out on the first-ever S.E.E.K. Fayetteville event. This Wednesday starting at 5:30, join us for a ONCE pre-show party, complete with FREE Fayettechill Ale, a photo booth (with plenty of props) and food from Nomads Natural Plate. Then head to the theater with us to see Walton Arts Center’s newest Broadway show ONCE (see more about this unique Broadway experience below). After the show, be sure to bring your ticket back to Puritan Brewing Company to indulge in some delicious craft beer on us! That’s right, WAC will have an OPEN TAB ready and waiting for everyone who attended the show. The photo booth will be back open for all to enjoy and we've even invited the cast of ONCE to come chill with us after the show!

For more information about the pre-and-post show parties, check out our Facebook event page SEEK Fayetteville and see what all of the other locals are saying about the event!

On top of all of the free-bees and good times being had at the pre-and-post show parties, you’ll get the chance to see an eight-time Tony® Award-winning Broadway musical called ONCE right here in Fayetteville! This film-turned-Broadway musical has an ensemble cast of actors/musicians who play their own instruments on-stage, and tells a story about the power of music to connect us all. The cast is known for their folk-rock jam sessions and it’s rumored that there’s even an Irish pub on-stage where you can go get drinks before the show!

Be sure to get your $25 tickets with promo code SEEK before it’s too late! Buy tickets to the show here. We can't wait to see you there!

Get ready for the SEEK event by listening to some Once inspired tunes:

 

 

Friday
Apr172015

Wendy Whelan: Restless Creature


   

 

bal·let

Classical ballet is defined as being characterized by light, graceful, fluid movements and the use of pointe shoes. These aspects of this artistic dance alone paint a picture of the most beautiful performance, but Wendy Whalen’s captivating dancing is beyond anything we could have ever imagined.

When she retired from the New York City Ballet in 2014, Whelan said,

“I still have so much dancing in me, so much to say. It’s not an end.”

 With so much left to say, Wendy is back on tour. You won’t want to miss her stop in Northwest Arkansas, she is sure to put on one of her most captivating performances to date!

The New York Times calls her America’s greatest contemporary ballerina. Her entrancing dancing with the New York City Ballet has thrilled audiences for 29 years. Wendy Whelan’s elegant movement and intelligent approach to performing is legendary, and this has never been more vivid than in her new project, Restless Creature. Whelan collaborates with four young and prodigious choreographers in a suite of new duets performed by Whelan and each choreographer in turn. The choreographers’ unique styles stretch Whelan’s artistry in unexpected ways as she adapts to each distinct vision while maintaining her own glowing individuality.

Because our 10x10 Arts Series focuses on creating a space for audience/artist interaction, we sat down with Wendy to really get to the root of where her inspiration comes from and find out what it is that makes her artistry so unique. 

1)One might say that you’ve been a choreographer’s muse throughout your ballet career. Yet, the roles are reversed in Restless Creature. Was this intentional?

I never thought the roles were ever clearly or evenly reversed in Restless Creature, just that they were different. The creative impetus to explore these dynamic exchanges were ignited by me for this project, which is absolutely different than any other previous choreographer/muse relationship I have been a part of. I asked each choreographer not to cater to me or to my understood strengths as a ballet dancer but to challenge me into their own true non balletic style and vocabulary. I wanted to learn from them and be challenged by them and explore their artistry. I didn't play a big role in developing movement or the choreography or choosing music for any of these works. I just approved it all and then took what they gave me and tried to grow from the very challenge of the experience itself and tap into new parts of myself within the work of each choreographer. 

 

2)What moves you to create a new project (e.g.: a musical piece, life experience or choreographer)?

 I see work or hear about something or I get an itch to work with someone or that different style of something or someone that is new to me. 

It's usually something about the kind of work it is or the creator him or herself that I am drawn to or curious about. I am drawn to soulful, wise and deeply creative people. 

 

3)Choose 5 words to describe Restless Creature.

Empowering, liberating, challenging, honest and fun  

 

4)What does it feel like to go from dancing on pointe to dancing barefoot?

 I really Love it ... But It's still very new to me. I have recently had some skin issues that modern dancers get on their feet where the skin splits (on the sole of the foot) from dancing barefoot... A very different but equally painful dilemma similar to the blisters one gets from dancing on pointe. I like the connection to the floor and the naturalness of the bare feet, but there will never be anything quite like dancing on pointe... It's an other worldly feeling. 

 

5)What types of cultural spaces/places do you drawcreative inspiration from?

I love old buildings. especially buildings that are considered "ruins".  Buildings that have a ton of history and stories within their walls, sort of like the "ghosts" that come along with a place. Structures that are broken or falling apart... I am especially drawn to old movie houses and theaters. I love imagining what these places used to be like and all the life and emotion that once flowed through the space and the great times and memories that were born and lived fleetingly in them

I also love the outdoors and laying in the grass or autumn leaves.  I love the smell of fresh cut grass or a smoky fire pit. I love things and places that evoke birth and death. My favorite seasons have always been and will always be, Spring and Fall.

6)Whom do you define as visionary?

Artists or thinkers who break the mold, challenge ideas or redefine certain ideals within their field. In dance, I'd say people like Balanchine, Cunningham, Baryshnikov, Ailey, Graham, Forsythe, Piña Bausch, Arthur Mitchell, Jacques d'Amboise, Yvonne Rainer, Carmen de Lavallade.  

 

 

7)Did you notice any changes—mind or body—during your transition from the “strong and controlled” ballerina to the fierce and free dancer that you are today?

Yes, I noticed that I started to feel my own unique beauty coming to life and a certain amount of self love and self acceptance growing within me. I felt a softness and a truth begin to emerge and a different kind of confidence and a different kind of wit and humor generating within me. I always compare it to a crack in the sidewalk ...... The crack reveals the imperfection where grass and life can now grow, and water and oxygen can flow. 

 

8)Does your current work connect to the larger world?

Absolutely ! That's what I want most now from my life in dance.

 

9)What is the best advice you’ve been given?

" Don't look back..."  

Which is a really hard thing for someone like me to do .... as someone who "loves to daydream about the history and memories of old decrepit buildings"...  :) 


10)In another life, what profession would you have chosen—or would you still choose ballet?

 I very much enjoyed my time in the ballet world... if I knew I'd have the same ballet relationships in another lifetime I'd do it all again. The relationships I have cultivated within all my years of ballet have been EVERYTHING to me and have been the most meaningful aspect of my time spent within that world. But I am finding these relationships within the more general open world of dance too. I think just having the ability to simply live the life of a dancer will always and eternally be the life I would wish for. 

Come Experience Wendy Whelan’s captivating performance.* April 18 at Walton Arts CenterVisit http://www.waltonartscenter.org/tickets-events/10x10-arts-series/ to learn more.

 

Friday
Apr172015

An Aca-Success!

 

The first annual VoiceJam festival was officially a success! A weekend of enticing performances, fun-filled workshops with a cappella experts, and groups from across the world made for the perfect introduction to a cappella for Northwest Arkansas. With Deke Sharon of NBC’s “The Sing-Off” as the host, Baum Walker Hall was echoing charisma and musicality.

Professional a cappella groups The House Jacks and Voco Novo lit up the auditorium with their impressive renditions which left the audience applauding and inspired.

The opening night competition was intense! The melodious and tunefully exciting acts by the five equally incredible competitors had talent that was hard to decipher, yet each group had its own fantastic groove. VoiceJam was lucky enough to bring in the Mello Divas of Tampa, FL, the Hibernotes of Missouri State University, DeltaCappella of Memphis, TN, Snowday of Gaithersburg MD, Above The Keys of Miami, FL and The Ill Harmonic of Champaign-Urbana, IL.

Alas, the overall champions of the competition were DeltaCappella of Memphis, TN who upon winning said,

“We are extremely honored and proud to be the inaugural VoiceJam Champions! As it was our first ever competition as a group, there were a lot of unknowns. We were really pleased with the sets we put together and the competition aspect of the festival really got us amped up once we were on the stage. It was really quite a surreal moment when Deke announced us as the winner right there on stage and it still hasn’t completely sunk in that we’re going to Shanghai!”

Toney Walsh, a member of DeltaCappella told us that he had a fantastic time in Fayetteville at the first ever VoiceJam.

“One thing that sticks out to me is the professionalism and kindness of the volunteers and employees at the Walton Arts Center. They were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The other groups were fantastic! The a cappella world is so vast and it felt great to see different types of groups represented…countless strangers came up to us, both a cappella people and non a cappella people, and told us how much they enjoyed the Friday night performance. It was great to see that level of interest from the community.”

DeltaCappella will now go on to compete at VocalAsia, Asia’s biggest a cappella festival, in Shanghai, China!

Wednesday
Apr152015

So Percussion

So Percussion

Exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam”- The New Yorker.

 

 

Amplified cactus? Bowed marimba? Aluminum pipes, and the German glockenspiel? You guessed it! Although the names of their instruments sound like a bunch of boring household knick-knacks, these 20th century luminaries and their exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy are quite the opposite!

So Percussion’s adventurous spirit has redefined the modern percussion ensemble, pushing its voice to the forefront of American musical culture. Since coming together as graduate students at the Yale School of Music, they’ve graced the stages of major venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and have toured Western Europe, South America, Russia and Australia. Don’t miss this truly unique experience!

 

After hearing the names of the unusual instruments this band plays, I’m sure you’re dying to hear more about their less-than-ordinary artistry! In order to incorporate the focus of our 10x10 Arts Series, creating a space for audience/artist interaction, and answer all of the questions that I’m sure are running through your head, we asked So Percussion a few questions! 

 1.      What's the story behind the name of your band?

One of the first things any group needs is a name.  When our group was founded in 1999, we cast far and wide among our friends and family for suggestions.  The winner was this simple, short word offered by Jenise Treuting, Jason's sister.  Jenise has been living and working in Japan as an English-Japanese translator for 20 years.  The word "Sō" was punchy, enigmatic, and memorable. Jenise explains: "The Sō in Sō Percussion comes from 奏, the second character in the compound Japanese word 演奏 (ensou), to perform music. By itself, so mean “to play an instrument.” But it can also mean “to be successful… to determine a direction and move forward,” and “to present to the gods or ruler.”

2.       What are your favorite artists and/or soundtracks to jam to?

 We have so many!  Early on, we were very inspired by groups like the Kronos Quartet and Nexus Percussion.  Artists like Radiohead and Bjork were also very influential in our generation.  There is a solid influence of jazz artists like Miles Davis.  We're really into bands that some of our friends play in, such as Wilco and The National. 

3.       What/who has been your biggest influence as musicians and composers?

 In addition to the above, our teachers made us who we are.  Robert van Sice at the Yale School of Music really brought us together.  Otherwise, our most important mentor was the composer David Lang, who wrote the first big piece for us, and whose optimistic approach to the music business helped us form our style of engagement with the world. 

4.       Pick 5 words—that start with the letter ‘p’—to describe your music?

percussive , passionate, playful, pensive , pulsating

5.       Does So Percussion embody more of a “band persona” or that of an avant-garde ensemble, or both?

 Both. The identity of our group is very much wrapped up in the four of us as people and musicians, which makes it more like a band than a classical ensemble.  But we regularly play other people's music, so it sort of fluctuates. 

6.       What has been your most exciting performance to date?

 Nothing ever beats your first Carnegie Hall show, if you're fortunate enough to have one.  In 2010, our debut as an ensemble with our own program involved two big new commissioned pieces; it was curated top to bottom by us.  Having your own artistic cultivation represented at a place like Carnegie is a huge thrill.  We got one of our best New York Times reviews out of that show. 

7.       Do you have a preference for writing your own tunes, or reworking classic standards?

 It's a mixture of both, and I would add that we get other composers to write new pieces that we hope will become classics!  

8.       What is the craziest instrument you have ever played?

 A carrot slide trombone. 

9.       Is there any advice you’d offer composers writing for percussion instruments?

 Be open and communicative!  We aren't looking for experts so much as collaborators. 

10.     Whom do you define as visionary?

 I like the word "vision."  I think it simply means the ability to see something.  A visionary sees something out there, maybe in a way that others don't yet, and has the courage and passion to follow through on it.  To have vision is to see clearly, which is not a terribly easy thing to do all the time. 

Want to find out more about So Percussion?

Visit http://www.waltonartscenter.org/tickets-events/10x10-arts-series/ to learn more about this exhilarating band before the show.

*And, don't miss the Creative Conversation with the band at 6:30pm!!!

Wednesday
Apr012015

VoiceJam. It's aca-awesome!

 

 

"It's addictive in the best way." - Amanda Cornaglia (Clear Harmonies) 

According to Mickey Rapkin’s nonfiction book Pitch Perfect, a cappella music describes one of the oldest forms of music in existence, “the kind made without any accompaniment at all,” and descended from the tradition of Gregorian chant. Yet, since the release of Pitch Perfect in 2012 - the world has been going crazy over modern a cappella music. The revival of this traditional art form was the inspiration for *VoiceJam,* an exciting 2-day festival produced and hosted by Walton Arts Center featuring vocal celebrities, workshops and a competition for a cappella groups from around the world. 

We had the chance to chat with this year's competitors who will soon battle it out for a chance to compete at VocalAsia in Shanghai, China! Here's what they had to say about their passion for a cappella and its new found popularity...

Q: What differentiates a cappella from other art forms?

Mello Divas:  You have to rely on yourself and each other more than in many other art forms. You have to listen more carefully, you really have to combine lots of technical elements with stage presence. It has to look and sound effortless.

DeltaCappella:  The lack of instruments means there's no "safety net." Singers in an a cappella group have to rely on each other to stay in tune and produce the harmonies and textures in the music.

Clear Harmonies:  It's addictive in the best way. Singing, especially a cappella, is really uplifting. A few hours in rehearsal or in a show can help get through even the worst day. This art form has also cultivated a wonderful community of creative, generous and amazing people. I've found some of my best friends through a cappella. 

Hibernotes:  Every art form is unique in its own way; however, a cappella music is different in that it's all about the sounds made from the mouth and the overall story that is performed. From matching vowels, crescendos, intonation, blend, energy, beat boxing and riffing, a cappella music has so many different challenging aspects. 

Q: How accurate is the movie Pitch Perfect when it comes to the "a cappella world?"

Mello Divas:  Not terribly accurate. People don't just improvise "perfect" arrangements on the spot like in the whole song battle thing.

DeltaCappella:  I'm not sure, my gut feeling is that the movie is like most forms of mass-market entertainment in that it builds characters who represent the extremes, so the drama portrayed in the film can happen, though usually not to such extremes. 

Clear Harmonies:  It definitely captures the essence of collegiate a cappella. The humor, the camarderie, the build-up to a big competition. We just hope people don't see us as "The Tonehangers." We definitely don't sing a cappella to recapture any youthful glory! It was fun to be able to laugh at our community's idiosyncrasies, though. I'm looking forward to seeing how the second movie portrays the international a cappella community. 

Hibernotes:  Pitch Perfect is EXACTLY how the a cappella world is... Just kidding! Pitch Perfect is essentially an overly exaggerated version of what typically happens in our a cappella world. There are always challenges, especially when competition season rolls around, but in the end we all love each other and love what we do. A cappella can be a whole lot of fun and they require a lot of work and dedication too.

Q: Why VoiceJam?

Mello Divas:  Deke Sharon! We thought it would be a great opportunity to learn from the father of a cappella and really high level groups. 

DeltaCappella:  It's rare that a competition is within driving distance of our home in Memphis. When I heard about this event in Fayetteville, I asked all the members to check their calendars to see if they were free, and thankfully, all but one of us is able to be here.

Clear Harmonies:  Both the opportunity to perform for a new audience here in the U.S., as well as the chance to perform in China. I was an Asian Studies major in college, studying Japanese and Mandarin. After college, I spent 4 years living and working in Japan and traveling around Asia. The opportunity to go back to perform and introduce my bandmates to such an amazing place would be a dream come true.

Hibernotes: Back in the fall we received an email about VoiceJam, but kind of pushed it to the side because it seemed too good to be true. Deke Sharon AND a potential trip to China? We definitely thought this competition was out of our league. However, as the spring semester rolled around, we brought the idea back into the picture. We decided to be ambitious and send in a video submission for the heck of it. To our surprise, we unexpectedly got accepted and could not be more thrilled!

 

 

Come show your support for these talented and passionate individuals during Northwest Arkansas' premiere a cappella festival *VoiceJam* April 10-11 at Walton Arts CenterVisit bit.ly/VoiceJam2015 to learn more.