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25 April 2019

International Center for Arts Festival Draws More than a Thousand Participants

Festival Featured African-inspired Drum Circle, Dance Performances, Documentaries, and Workshops

International Center for Arts Festival Draws More than a Thousand Participants

NVCC’s International Center for the Arts (ICA) Festival drew more than a thousand participants over the course of the three days of events in April. In its third year, the theme of this year’s festival was “Crossing Borders: Africa,” featuring NVCC’s fourth Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, Aguibou Sanou, who hails from Burkina Faso, Africa.

Opening on April 15, the three-day festival kicked off with an AFRO-Caribbean Art Exhibit, African poetry, an open mic event, the performance of “DNA for Dinner,” an original play by student Kevoy Somerville, and an improvisation by NVCC’s Terpsichorean Dance Club titled, “What’s Our Story? What are our Roots?”  Day two of the festival included a screening of “The T-shirt Travels,” a documentary on the impact of secondhand clothing from the West that makes its way to places like Zambia. This film was sponsored by the Max R. Traurig Library. The second screening was a documentary, “The Dancer Thieves,” about Sanou’s work with prisoners in Burkina Faso.

The final day of the festival kicked off with an hour of storytelling at NVCC’s Child Development Center. Music and dance filled the rest of the day with a drum circle held in the Leever Atrium. Dozens of students, faculty and staff were taught basic beat techniques by Sanou’s brother, Moussa. Following the drum circle, Sanou led a crowd of varying ages through a dance workshop and then led a symposium on the traditions and education of his native country, Burkina Faso. The culminating event of the festival was a one-of-a-kind tour-de-force performance of “A Rebours,” (trans. “Countdown). A multi-dimensioned conceptual performance piece that opened with Assistant Professor of Dance Megan Boyd and Sanou. The performance began with a question: what remains of the role of the drum in contemporary society—from its sacred symbolism to its profane use? Today, the drums of the world (both literally and metaphorically), seem to announce the countdown to the end of time. A ReBours offered a mesmerizing and powerful combination of African-infused dance, music, and voice, with a choreography that was both violent and fragile, skirting the edge of artful mastery and explosion while providing a critical appraisal of policies that confine and marginalize subordinate peoples. The performance created a voice advocating for the necessity of cultural diversity, while alerting humanity to excesses that could lead to its loss.

Sanou thanked Professor Boyd, his co-producer, and the students, faculty, staff, and the dozens of members in the audience at the end of the performance, noting that the orchestration of schedules for many students who work full time and attend the college was among the most challenging parts of putting the show together. Nevertheless, the entire cast of the show, including the musicians who accompanied the dancers during the performance, pulled off a dazzling, memorable performance with a strong message.

Professor Boyd said, “This year’s Fulbright Scholar in Dance was fruitful. The year-long exchange with Aguibou forged new professional pathways for NVCC students to consider, it ignited campus engagement and it reinforced community partnerships.” She noted that in addition to performing his work on NVCC’s campus, Sanouo presented choreography and taught workshops at the following institutions: the 5x5 Dance Festival at the University of Saint Joseph last November, the Waterbury Arts Magnet School this past January and February, and earlier this month at Eastern Connecticut State University. “Aguibou’s presence and contributions to the dance program and the college community are a reminder of the power of both the individual and the community to strive for dreams and to believe those hopes will manifest through hard work, commitment and dedication to one’s art, self and to one another,” she said.

“For me, the success is to do more for others than others do for you and without any expectation. With [the] ICA Festival we succeeded because we gave more to students and [the] community” said Sanou.

“The coming together of so many students, faculty, and staff was beautiful to witness,” said Lisa Dresdner, Ph.D., Dean of Academic Affairs, “and their collaborative efforts highlight the value of crossing all kinds of borders to create meaning in our worlds.

“The International Center of the Arts Festival is designed to celebrate diverse cultures. The engagement at this year’s event was truly a microcosm of diversity and varied artistic talents, creating a very unique and memorable event for our students and community,” said B.L. Baker, Associate Dean of NVCC’s Liberal Arts and Behavioral & Social Sciences.

“I was moved by the beautiful manifestation of community and caring displayed by participants and by the powerful NVCC embrace of diversity,” said NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D.

The next International Festival of the Arts is scheduled for Spring 2020. Get the details on this and other arts events happening at the College through the campus events calendar.


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