The Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts, held annually in the spring, is always the campus cultural highlight of the year, presenting the best of what the arts at Brandeis have to offer. This year’s festival adopts the theme that “art is all around.” As such, members of the Brandeis community who happened to enter the Shapiro Campus Center on Thursday afternoon quite literally found themselves surrounded by art as part of the festival’s opening ceremony.
This year’s ceremony took the form of a “happening,” a live action event in which different forms of artistic expression converge. Traditionally, these often include music, dance, painting and song. All were present on Thursday.
The ceremony began with a performance of traditional African dancing and drumming by members of the Fafali ensemble, comprised of students in the Ghana Drumming and Dancing (MUS 87) class. Not only was their dancing electrifying, but it also provided a wonderful glimpse into the kind of unique opportunities provided to students by the school of the creative arts.
Of course, happenings are all about the melding of various art forms, so naturally the ceremony transitioned to a classic violin concert given by three students. Halfway through their performance, they were joined by another student playing a drum.
As the violinists and drummer played, students of the Suzuki class appeared, marching across the atrium floor. Originally developed by the Japanese theater artist Tadashi Suzuki, this method develops both physical strength and the imagination through a series of walks and marches.
While the Suzuki members skillfully marched, a change of pace was injected through the appearance of jugglers.
Afterwards, cast members from this year’s Tympanium Euphorium production of “Rent” appeared. Led by Harrison Bannett ’11, they performed the song “La Vie Boheme.” As the song came to a close, the singers grabbed students from the audience and encouraged them to dance, incorporating them into the happening.
These amateur dancers were subsequently joined by hip-hop dancers, many of them members of Kaos Kids and Adagio Dance Company. They began by dancing to Chris Brown’s “Yeah 3x” before continuing to other songs.
Not only was it impressive on its own merits, but it also attracted an impressive level of attendance; the SCC atrium is normally never so packed. Overall, it proved a spectacular opening to an always promising festival, which promises an array of excellent events combining the theater, music and art.
The festival runs through May 1.