As I searched for a last course to fill my general education requirement, I wanted the course to be special. I wanted a course that I gave me a hands on experience outside of the typical engineering courses that I took. A close friend of mine suggested FAA 110 as such a course, and I am so glad that she did. FAA 110 became the favorite class that I took at University of Illinois. I had very little knowledge nor experience in arts and I was able to enjoy the amazing performances and museums that were held at our university.
FAA 110 was one of the most interesting classes I’ve taken in my time at college. Since my time here at university is ending soon, I appreciated the opportunity to get a better idea of the artistic capabilities this campus has. I enjoyed the ability to learn more about our facilities at the art museum and performance centers. I hadn’t been to the art museum or most of the theaters of the performance center before, so it was nice to explore and learn about the people and resources that makes them function. We also watched many diverse live performances this semester, from joyful ballets to intense plays. It is incredible to see how different productions make use of the same stage for their own purposes.
The Shanghai Ballet’s performance of The Butterfly Lovers was the first ballet I’ve witnessed, and I was more impressed that I predicted. The dancers moved elegantly across the stage, perfectly in rhythm to the music and each other’s actions. Although it was at times difficult to understand the story they were trying to tell, their athleticism and humor kept me entertained.
Step Afrika!’s performance of Drumfolk was my favorite performance this semester. The high energy music and dancing paired with the cultural and historical significance really spoke to me. The performers did their best to include the audience in some of their musical acts as well, further raising the energy in the room.
This musical performance by Laura Kabasomi, or Somi, was our first production focused on the story of a single person. Although Somi was accompanied by her band, the stories she told and songs she sang spoke mostly of her own experiences with race and her African heritage. Her performance was filled with emotion that was clearly straight from her heart.
Getting through the Dayby Anna Deveare Smith was the first performance this semester that did not have a musical focus, but instead relied on impersonations and spoken stories. Anna’s ability to capture the essence of characters both known and unknown to the audience was incredible, and the way she wove humor and more serious tones into her performance was impressive as well.
The Cabaret was one of the more humorous performances I have seen so far. The characters were relatable and engaging, and no opportunity for a joke was missed throughout the play. I was especially impressed by the narrator, who had an amazing sense of stage presence.
Metamorphosis was a bizarre, radical shift from what we had seen so far in this class. The humor was scarce, and the characters were faced with impossible ethical dilemmas throughout. Nonetheless, Mirai Moriyama’s performance as Gregor was the best display of acting I had seen in any performance this semester. He was able to conjure a visceral feeling in me with only his body and its movements, needing no help from prosthetics or costume changes.
The most impressive feat of Virago-Man Dem was its masterful use of vibrant colors. During this performance, the cast changed between costumes that varied greatly in appearance, and the screen behind them displayed colorful murals and silhouettes that helped tell the mood and story behind the play. Visually, this was one of my favorite spectacles this semester.
The Container was undoubtedly the most bold and intense production I have seen this semester. The plot was based on real situations people still struggle through today, and it didn’t hold back in showing the seriousness and dangers of immigration. The most interesting part of this performance for me was the stage: having the audience mere inches from the cast, trapped inside the dark container with them makes this quite an uncomfortable play to sit through.
In conclusion, this class has helped me gain appreciation for various types of performances. Without FAA 110, I may have never seen a live ballet or spoken word performance. After being exposed to these different styles, I am happy to say that I enjoyed them much more than I predicted. Although my time here on campus is soon ending, I plan on attending live performances more often when I have the opportunity to. I’m thankful to the teachers and students who have led the discussions on these topics, and helped me learn more about the history and efforts of the people who make these productions possible.
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.
FAA 110 is one of the most inspiring classes I have ever taken. It lets me experience different types of arts and allows me to explore the possibilities of artworks and exhibitions. I still remembered that we took a tour in Krannert Center, and that’s the first time that I actually realize how amazing Krannert Center is. I learned how much preparation work needs to be done before a show is presented on the stage. And I also learned the different purposes and design concepts in each performance hall, and the story behind the establishments of Krannert Center. So many performances are happening each day here. It is a bridge that connects the artists and people who love arts from all around the world to share their thoughts of arts. 😊
The first performance we watched together this semester is the Ballet dance from Shanghai that tells an ancient love tragedy in China. It was absolutely a fantastic experience since I know this story when I was only a child. I was amazed by how they used their body movements to express their feelings and tell the story to the audience who are not familiar with the story. The ending scene: the transfer from human to butterflies was imposing and a little bit romanticism.
This is the first time for me to watch a performance that used body percussions as the beats. When the performers and dancers show the audience how to clap and make the moves with them, the audience could also be involved in this show. What impressed me the most in this performance is the passion conveyed by the dancer’s body movements. The dancing crew has incredible cooperation, and their moves are synchronizing. The sound they generate is their beats, and the drum in the show is a symbol of freedom.
Somi was born and raised in Champaign, Illinois. After she becomes an outstanding artist and musician, she comes back to her hometown, and share her thoughts and philosophies of life with people. Her music is unique, and her arts could inspire people. She unites her own stories and feelings in her music, and her art not only relaxes the audience but also brings inspiration to the audience. I really appreciate the thoughts she shared. I remembered that it was a hard school day for me, but the voice and music of Somi really made me feel relaxed and relived.
I had an exam that day, so I went to the Talk with Anna Deavere Smith and Julia Wolfe. Anna Deavere Smith said she’s been caring about the hunger problems of children, and she believes that more attention should be given to the children and the new generations. She shared her experience of how she entered the media business and how she dealt with the challenges she met in her career. It was absolutely an inspiration from her about how young artists should face the rapid changes in the current world, and how they could impact the world positively by using the strength of art. As an experienced artist in media, she encourages young artists to express their opinions about politics, and she says, “every significant change starts with a small step.”
Due to the impact of COVID-19, all university classes have transformed into online sessions. Though many of the events got canceled, it is lucky that we could still enjoy high quality shows from home on the University’s media library. The reason I chose Romeo and Juliet as my first virtual performance is that we watched the Butterfly Lovers at the beginning of the semester, and some may say that it is the eastern world version of “Romeo and Juliet.” This version that I chose is also quite different from the classic version of Romeo and Juliet: it is modified to happen in the current society. The transition from traditional to modern is exciting. Some designs are made on the costumes of the characters to show their personalities. The surprise of this show is that the modern version adds a little humor in this play.
This event brings me a new understanding of how shows could be made. Everything happens in one scene: a container. All the background and stories are conveyed to the audience by the talks among characters. At the end of the show, I realized that the audience, photographers, and actors are all in this container. The audience could watch the actors’ performances in person, and I couldn’t help thinking about how cool that could be!
Adapted from Franz Kafka’s novella, the story tells the tale of how a salesman is transformed into an insect, and how his families change their attitudes towards him before and after the transform. One word I could use to describe this show is delicate. There are only a few simple props and scene sets on the stage, and it is tough to show the transition from a man to an insect. However, the excellent Japanese actors used their exaggerated facial expressions and body movements to convince the audience and bring the audience into this story. The man who played the salesman is really a great artist.
I’ve watched several versions of The Nutcracker, but the one presented by the Royal ballet from the British is the best one I’ve seen. I love how fancy the scenes are set, and each detail of the props and the costumes are perfect. The skills of the ballet dancers are startling. My favorite scene is when the prince takes Marie to the Candy Kingdom, all the toys start dancing to welcome them. All these toys are alive, and many of them are exotic. Chinese tea, hot chocolate, coffee from Arabia, candy canes and mother ginger, and etc. The solos and duets are definitely eye-catching. As this is the last event of this semester, I chose the same types of art as the first event of the semester to make a sweet end.
Time flies. It feels incredible that another semester is about to end. Although lots of unexpected things happened, it was still a great semester overall. And FAA 110 was one of the main factors that made this semester “great”. I remember I registered this course simply for a general education course. However, this is such a great course that brought me much more than just having a few credits.
Hello and thank you for coming back once again! Not being able to visit the theaters in person hasn’t kept us from continuing our theatrical exploration! Using UIUC’s digital theater, I was able to enjoy Steven Berkoff’s Metamorphosis, an adaptation of a Franz Kafka novella. In this production a young man finds himself transformed into a repulsive, human-sized bug as he’s forced to suffer in a dark, cramped room for the rest of his existence.
The set and props were incredibly simple, with only three stools and and a raised platform with climbing bars perched to it. Although the set was incredibly minimalistic, the use of lighting, slow-motion, etc., allowed the scenes to flow properly and conveyed the passing of time. The actor who played Gregor, the man-bug, really astonished me in his performance. The entire production hinged on having an amazing performer be Gregor as his voice is so critical to the entire mood and tension of the show. All of this is not to mention that as well as giving a dazzling performance, we all know he got an even better leg workout while he was cramped up as a dung beetle!
Thank you so much, once again, for stopping by! Please check back soon as I will be visiting one of the Shakespeare classics on the Digital Theater.
Link to performance: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/east-productions/metamorphosis
“The Container” takes place on a standard size shipping trailer moving across Europe towards England. This container, however, is full of refugees from multiple countries who were unable to enter the country legally. The dark, dingy atmosphere and the visages of the occupants make the miserable conditions inside tangible.
The actors accurately portrayed the primal struggle for survival and safety throughout the production. While trapped in the container, the passengers press themselves against the walls at every stop in hopes they may discover some minute shred of evidence as to where they may be or whether they will be given fresh food and water for the next leg of the journey.
The costumes of each character were absolutely perfect for this production. Through their clothing, it was rather easy to distinguish details about each of the characters. The costume that stuck with me the most was that of the businessman because the creators were able to capture his relative wealth in his style of clothing but to maintain the elements of struggle brought about by their current travel and entrapment.
On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at 7:30 pm the Drum Tao group performed at the Tryon Festival Theater. A total of 14 performers showed off their drumming skills, acrobatic finesse, and other talents in their dazzling show.
The Cabaret at the Krannert is my favorite of the events this semester. The intense storyline is complimented perfectly by beautiful musical numbers performed by a live orchestra and the performer on stage.
Cabaret’s excellence comes as a result of the incredible musical numbers. The songs give a true sense of the character’s beliefs and attitudes. For example, when Fräulein Schneider sings “So What?” she offers insight to the desperation and lack of hope that was shared by countless individuals of post-WW1 Germany. Additionally, the reprisal of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” at the end of the first act portrays the pro-nazi leanings of certain members of the cast. Most of the cast joins in on this song, showing the growing influence of nazism in Germany during the early 1930s.
During the performance, the set changed countless times to describe multiple locations throughout Berlin. The boardinghouse consisted of Cliff Bradshaw’s room and an adjacent hallway containing Fräulein Schneider’s and Fräulein Kost’s doors. The Kit Kat Klub was mostly empty, but the character’s made up for the empty stage with intense, vibrant costumes and dances. In-between scenes, brief pauses for applause doubled as opportunities for rapid set changes.
Thanks again for checking back on my blog! The next event is this Wednesday, the 11th, for Drum Tao! I’ll see you all again soon!