Tag Archives: rachelyao

“Tiger” at KAM

By Rachel Yao

Deke Weaver performs his 5th Unreliable Bestiary project, which is about the Tiger, at the Krannert Art Museum on November 7th.

A photo of the stage before the performance with a tiger’s head projected in the background.
Two handouts given out to the audience before the performance began.

Throughout the play, Deke Weaver tells his story about the tiger using various methods. First, he portrays different characters as the story moves along. He plays a tour guide, portrayed by wearing a leather hat; he plays a intellect who lives in India, portrayed by wearing glasses and having an soft accented voice; he plays another character whom searches for tigers by wearing crushed garbage as armory and protection. By playing various characters in his performance, Weaver tells his story in an interesting and amusing way. Each character had moments in the spotlight that showcased they significance.

In addition to playing multiple characters, Weaver includes a “powerpoint” in the background of a mix of videos and photos to help tell his story. The photos and videos help establish setting, like in the deep forests searching for tiger, or on the plane waiting to land. The videos in between speeches also tell interesting stories and provide important facts and information. For example, one video explained how the tiger is used as a mascot for many, many companies, such as Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal and Exxon gas. And, how the tiger population is vanishing. These factual videos really impacted me the most because it really shows how vulnerable these animals are, and how we humans are destroying or environment and ecosystems.

The beginning of the performance, with Deke Weaver on the left and a picture of the earth in the background.

In the performance, themes of journey and home emerged. The idea of journey was shown through the steps along the way, from being at home to traveling across the world to searching in forests for tigers. The way Weaver told his story made it seem as if we were on the journey with him, learning new pieces of information and exploring new regions of earth.

Link for more information on “Tiger”: https://kam.illinois.edu/event/tiger-performance-no-5-unreliable-bestiary

Wynton Marsalis at Krannert Center

By Rachel Yao

Wynton Marsalis and his ensemble perform various jazz compositions at Foellinger Great Hall at KCPA on November 1st, 2019.

A photo of the ticket outside Foellinger Great Hall.
A view of the stage from my seat (taken before the performance began).

Walking in to the auditorium, I was amazed at the interior design and symmetry. And, because of the way the auditorium was built, the sounds from the jazz band were loud and crisp.

In each piece, there were solo showcases, including trumpet, clarinet, piano, saxophone, and more. When it was the soloist’s turn to play, the ensemble went from mezzo forte to mezzo piano and the soloist played loud and clear, while still blending in with the ensemble. The clarinet, trumpet, and saxophonist all played very high notes with complex rhythms and dynamics. In particular, I enjoyed the pianist’s solo that showcased very upbeat yet rhythmic tones. It really stood out to me, considering I played the piano since I was very young. I love the sound of the piano and I enjoyed hearing the pianist play fast, staccato melodies.

In comparison to Chris Botti, I felt that Botti’s playing was more loose and carefree in relation to Marsalis’. Both had various solos that used a wide range of dynamics, both very loud and quiet, while still allowing for the rest of the ensemble/band to be heard.

A photo I took of the stairs outside the auditorium on the way out.

Link for more information: https://krannertcenter.com/events/jazz-lincoln-center-orchestra-wynton-marsalis

Gem of the Ocean

By Rachel Yao

Gem of the Ocean is a play that combines both acting and dancing to tell a story that takes place in the early 1900s in Pittsburgh.

A picture of my ticket with the stage setup in the background, taken before the play began.
The stage before the play began, portraying an old house.

As I entered the theater and walked to my seat, I analyzed the stage set up. The cool, dim lights gave the house a cold feeling. The house was empty and the background was a picture of snowy mountains. The wooden walls or borders were of an ashy dark wood, which made the house seem warn down and old. Once the play began, the lights inside the house lit up, creating a warm and rusty environment. The characters in the play wore a variety of outfits. Women wore blouses with long skirts that reached their ankles. Some men wore white shirts similar to tuxedo shirts, long pants with suspenders, long trench coats, and hats. Others, like the sheriff, wore a suit to portray wealth.

One character I found interesting was Citizen Barlow. The other characters have mentioned a man who stole a bucket of nails multiple times, and no one knew who it was. However, when talking to Aunt Ester, Citizen confesses by pulling out a bucket of nails from his bag. In the beginning of the play, we see Citizen desperately trying to get money and did not take responsibility for his actions. Yet, throughout the first part of the play, we see Citizen’s character development. He confessed what he kept to himself, listened to Aunt Ester’s advice, and began to seek for a better life.

A photo of outside Colwell Playhouse I took before entering the theater.

Link for more information on Gem of the Ocean: https://krannertcenter.com/events/gem-ocean

Imagination (INC) Showcase

By Rachel Yao

Makeup Event

Imagination Dance Crew hosts their semesterly Imagination Showcase, featuring groups like K-Project, Truth and Beauty, Storytellers, Dance 2xs, Velocity Dance Team, and more on October 12th, 2019 at Lincoln Hall Theater.

K-Project group photo after the Imagination Showcase ended.
TNB (Truth and Beauty) group photo after Imagination Showcase.

Before the showcase, each performance group were given tech time for 10 minutes, where they could rehearse their set and positions while the backstage crew can rehearse lighting on and off stage. I was in two groups: K-Project and Truth and Beauty (TNB). For both groups, we spent tech time marking positions and running through the entire set once. Walking up to the stage to rehearse gave me a sudden surge of energy; I was both excited and nervous.

An hour goes by, and a cast meeting was held an hour before the show. We all sat in the seats of the auditorium and the Imagination Dance Crew board members gave a speech. Shortly afterwards, we were all sent to the green room. Since TNB was the first group to perform, we spent our remaining minutes looking over the dance.

TNB looking over their set in the green room after rehearsal, waiting to perform on stage.

Five minutes before the show begins, we were called to wait backstage behind the curtains. I began to feel a bit anxious and worried. What if I mess up? What if I forget positions? We waited and waited, until the audience lights began to dim and the two MC’s walked on stage with their microphones. The lights dimmed once again, and we quickly got on stage. The stage lit up and music started playing. Before I know it, the set was over. After resting in the green room, we left for the auditorium to watch the other groups perform.

The Cheese Bois having fun on stage during the showcase.
Dance 2xs performing on stage.

Later, I was called back for K-project. After performing once, I was not as nervous for this performance. While waiting backstage to perform, we all gave reminders and words of encouragement. Once again, the performance ran smoothly and we returned back to the audience to watch the rest of the show.

Imagination Dance Crew performing as the last and final set for the showcase.

Though I have been dancing for quite some time, this was my first time performing at the Imagination Showcase. It was both a fun and nerve-racking experience. What I enjoyed most was not only performing on stage, but also being able to see all the talented dance groups showcase their work. I was amazed at each performance and definitely couldn’t wait for the next showcase in the spring!

To watch TNB’s performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbB7LSKAd_s&fbclid=IwAR0divvGq3V2cLauFRUap6ctTQGX4BnR2IjImyG6ktYRZU0oJzRGc31gXO0

Jennifer Monson’s Dance Workshop at KAM

By Rachel Yao

Jennifer Monson expresses a way of experiencing art through movement at her dance workshop at Krannert Art Museum on October 3rd, 2019.

Jennifer Monson explaining her program in the Krannert Art Museum lobby.

We began outside in a small patch of grass outside of the museum. We were instructed to close our eyes and listen to the sounds of our surroundings and to face various directions. While the group was listening to their sounds, I focused my attention to the leaves rustling, cars driving by, and crickets chirping. It felt very relaxing and stress-relieving. Considering my stressful week that consisted of studying for midterms and completing assignments, this experience was a breath of fresh air.

The area of the art museum we stayed in for the next activity.

Then, we went back into the museum and entered the art gallery. We were told to find a partner and take turns watching each other do whatever we wanted with our eyes closed. It was an opportunity to express ourselves and follow our instincts. Next, we were given a packet of prompts and were sent off to find a piece of artwork we liked and stare at it before answering a prompt in the packet. My partner and I chose a large oil painting that features two individuals bracing each other. Looking at the prompts, I chose the one that required me to draw my response to the artwork. Reflecting on my first impressions of the artwork, I remember drawing my attention to the detailed hands and less-distinct eyes of the individuals. I then turned to my paper and began drawing a hand and eye.

A photo of me working on my drawing of a hand.

By thinking about my own body and movement in relation to the artwork made me feel more connected to the piece as well as allowing me to look at a piece of art in a different perspective. I focused more on the emotions conveyed within the artwork as well as my reaction in response to a piece of art.

For more information: https://kam.illinois.edu/event/dance-workshop-jennifer-monson-movement-means-experience-art%E2%80%94move-seesee-move

Home by Geoff Sobelle

By Rachel Yao

Geoff Sobelle’s “Home” showcases a mix of music and theatre while building a house from scratch at Colwell Playhouse in KCPA on September 27th, 2019.

A mix of actors and audience members on stage in the house built during the play.

“Home” starts off with a man wondering around on stage, picking up lanterns, and building a small wall out of wood and plastic sheets. As the play goes on, more characters start appearing, including the construction workers who quickly built a house in front of our very eyes. There was a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, and office within the house. Room decor, like pictures and vases, and furniture, like couches and desks, decorated the home while the residents unpacked. The stage quickly transformed into a warm home with ambient noises, wind blowing, leaves ruffling, and dog barking, mixed with realistic lighting that portrayed day and night.

Beginning of the play, where the man builds a wall made of wood and plastic sheets.

As the story unfolds, we see the daily life of each resident, from waking up to doing chores to arguing with each other. Seeing each resident live their own lives made me think and reflect on my own experiences at home. The play made me think about my morning routine and hectic schedules that I follow on a daily basis back at home and in my dorm at university. At the end of the play, the residents one by one began packing their belongings and moving out. This act made me think about the time I was moving from Minnesota to California, and then moving to university in Illinois. As a result, I could sympathize with the actors as they portrayed their lives.

Actors and audience members performing a scene where the residents were packing up to move out.

To my surprise, the actors also interacted with the audience throughout the play, whether it was offering food and drinks, asking for people to stand and hold strings of lights, singing happy birthday, or bringing them on stage to be part of the act. It made the audience feel cheerful, as if they were also a part of or invited to the party. I thought this strengthened the connection between the audience and the actors to create a lasting impression and to sympathize with them by drawing more of the audience’s attention to the scene.

Audience members standing to hold up strings of lights to be hung from the balcony.
Actors and audience members in a scene after a party where they mourn over a death.

More info on “Home” by Geoff Sobelle: https://krannertcenter.com/events/home-geoff-sobelle

Chris Botti Blows Crowd Away!

By Rachel Yao

Chris Botti, featuring Lee Pearson, Andy Snitzer, Anastasiia Mazurok, and more, perform at the Tryon Festival Theatre on September 14th, 2019.

Tickets for Chris Botti outside of Tryon Festival Theatre.
A view from the balcony of Chris Botti playing his trumpet and Andy Snitzer playing his saxophone.

I was quite fascinated by Chris Botti’s playing and skill. Each note he played was very clear and had good dynamic. He could gracefully switch the mood of the song; he would play a loud forte, then suddenly bring the volume down to a soft mezzo piano. Moreover, I was also amazed by the other musicians and singers that were featured in the performance. Andy Snitzer, the saxophonist, played various scales swiftly during his solo. His body movement also lightened the mood of the song to be more cheerful and jazzy. Anastasiia Mazurok, the violinist, performed her solo elegantly, with each note flowing to the next. Lastly, Sy Smith, a singer, had a very nice voice that harmonized with the rest of the band.

Out of all the outstanding performances, I think Lee Pearson’s drum solo may be my favorite part of the performance. I found it very entertaining and captivating as he displayed much of his skill within a short period of time. He exhibited cool tricks with his drumsticks, like balancing them on top of his head while playing, throwing them up in the air, and using his hands to play the drum set.

Sy Smith (bottom left) and Chris Botti (bottom right) interacting with the audience while performing.

Near the end of the performance, Chris Botti and Sy Smith go off stage to interact with the audience. Botti continued to play his trumpet while Smith came onto stage with her strong, powerful voice. People quickly got out their cameras and phones to take pictures. I thought the way they interacted with the audience, whether it be having conversations or walking into the crowd, really engaged the viewers throughout the performance.

For more info: https://krannertcenter.com/events/chris-botti

Opening Night Party at KCPA

By Rachel Yao

Extra Credit

On September 5th, 2019, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts hosted the Opening Night Party, featuring many artists and venues.

Chalk Art in progress on the stairs outside of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

As I arrived at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (KCPA), I could already see crowds of people outside. There were so many venues and activities outside. There were artists doing chalk art on the stairs leading to KCPA, venues selling food like hamburgers and desserts, and singers getting ready to perform. Once I entered the building, my eyes were drawn to the changing color lights and rows of venues along the sides. There were temporary tattoos, face painting, food stands, and more! There was just as many people inside as there were outside. I spent most of my time wondering around, looking for artists to watch and listen to.

I particularly enjoyed watching Andy Baylor and Toko Telo. Andy Baylor sang his own unique country-style cover of the National Anthem while playing his guitar. Toko Telo, a Madagascar-based group, performed several folk compositions outside of KCPA. Both had very contrasting styles. Baylor’s singing was very melodic and smooth, while Toko Telo had more distinct beats.

Andy Baylor performing his own cover of the National Anthem
Toko Telo performing outside of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
A face painting booth inside the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

I thought the KCPA Opening Night Party was a great way to discover and listen to new talented singers, meet knew people, and enjoy ourselves throughout the night. What I enjoyed the ambient atmosphere created by the changing-color lights, and music performed by Andy Baylor and Toko Telo.

Buddy Guy Performs at UIUC!

By Rachel Yao

Buddy Guy performs live at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the Tryon Festival Theatre (located inside the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) on September 7th, 2019.

Buddy Guy tickets inside Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

For the first event of the semester, I had the chance to see Buddy Guy perform live. When I arrived at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts lobby, I saw numerous people waiting outside. As I entered the theatre, I saw more and more people pouring in to get seated. I sat on the balcony, which provided a nice view of the entire stage, Buddy Guy, and the background musicians.

The people waiting in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts lobby
A clear view from my seat on the balcony before the performance.

My first time seeing Buddy Guy was quite an emotional experience. Throughout the concert, I felt a mix of astonishment and joyfulness. One moment that left me amazed was when Buddy Guy used various objects (drumsticks, towel) to play his guitar. Buddy Guy put his guitar on a speaker to let the vibrations create sound. Then, he laid a towel across the fingerboard, and proceeded to use a drumstick to pluck the strings. I have never seen this unique technique before! In addition, I was also amazed by the switch between smooth and up-beat rhythms, and soft and loud singing. This dynamic made each song performed very engaging and interesting to listen to.

Another unforgettable moment that left me astonished was when Buddy Guy interacted with the crowd by walking off stage and into the audience. At first, Buddy Guy was singing at the center of the stage. Then, on the left side of the stage, several backstage crew members exited through the side curtains and lined up next to the stairs that lead offstage. After they turned on their flashlight and shown the light onto the stairs, Buddy Guy proceeded to walk into the audience. As he began walking, people quickly starting standing up, frantically grabbing their phones to film Buddy Guy. The audience on the balcony were all leaning on the edge of their seat, hoping to get a glimpse of Buddy Guy. I, unfortunately, did not get to see Buddy Guy in the audience; however, I did listen to his singing as it grew louder and louder as he got further and further into the crowd.

Overall, I really enjoyed Buddy Guy’s performance at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Though I am not that big of a fan of blues music, I still appreciated each song Buddy Guy performed.

For more info : https://krannertcenter.com/events/buddy-guy