Revisiting the Semester

Despite my lack of experience with the performing arts, I decided to take this class to step out of my comfort zone and I’m glad I did. I had a grand time watching these performances and trying to form my own opinions about the message of each show and their purpose. Through this course, I’ve found the type of performances I like the most and I definitely want to be visiting the Krannert Center and local performing arts theatres in the future.

By Grace Chen

Butterfly Lovers

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The programme of the show inside the Tryon Theatre.

The very first show we went to was a story of the Butterfly Lovers performed by the Shanghai Ballet. I felt an immediate connection to this story as it has a large connection to my heritage as a Chinese person. I really liked the designs of this performance since the dancer’s costumes clearly portrayed their role and the backgrounds of the set clearly showed the context of each scene. Additionally, I liked seeing the incorporation of Chinese dance into ballet which made me prouder of my heritage.

Step Afrika!

Cast of Step Afrika!

The next show is Step Afrika! which was probably my favorite show of all. The musicality and choreography made this performance both exciting and engaging. This was the most memorable show for me since it mixed many elements of performance together to create a fun show.

Somi

My ticket in Colwell Playhouse for Somi.

The next show was different from the first two as it was more of a concert than a stage show. Somi sang beautifully to R&B grooves played by her band. I still remember the respect that all the musicians on stage had for each other’s performances and it really moved me.

Anne Deavere Smith

After Somi was a vocal and personality performance by Anne Deavere Smith. This was an interesting performance as it was the most different from the previous ones. I wasn’t able to connect to this show as much as I was able to with the other performances. Although it was more difficult for me to empathize with Smith’s stories, I’m glad that I was able to experience something new.

Cabaret

Cast of Cabaret.

For my last in-person show, I got to watch the University’s rendition of Cabaret. It felt like I was transported into the past with seamless transitions and excellent acting. The story itself was compelling and with the addition of the good performances, I felt like I was an audience of the Cabaret rather than the musical.

As You Like It

Opening scene of As You Like It from Digital Theatre Plus. https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/shakespeares-globe/as-you-like-it

The first virtual performance I watched was Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Watching this play through a screen made connecting with the characters easier since I could clearly see the actors’ emotions. Besides the technical aspect, I thought this was a fun performance as Shakespeare never disappoints.

The Container

Another virtual performance I watched was The Container. I really liked this story and the actors’ portrayal of their characters. Throughout the entire performance, I wanted to know what happened to all the characters and enjoyed seeing their relationships with each other grow.

Virago-Man Dem

 Virago-Man Dem at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival. October 2017  Pictured: Jonathan Gonzalez, Duane Cyrus, Ni’Ja Whitson, Niall Noel Jones. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
From https://www.cynthiaoliver.com/virago-man-dem during the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival.

The last performance I watched was Cynthia Oliver’s Virago-Man Dem. This performance was the hardest to interpret and form my own opinion about. Although I found it difficult to understand, I was still able to enjoy this new style of dance. This was the one performance of the online ones that I wish I was able to watch in person because I feel like the music and feel of the dance would be better expressed that way.

FAA 110 is a class that is so different from any class I’ve ever taken and I am really happy I was able to take it this semester. It allowed me to expand my knowledge of the arts by being able to directly experience them rather than reading about it through a book. Although I wasn’t able to see all the planned performances of the semester, I can still appreciate the purpose of this class. Thank you Professor Collins and Professor Robinson!

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