The University of Dayton Theatre Program presented “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue” on November 23 in Kennedy Union’s Boll Theatre. I am sure the title had significance to the dance performers but I could not make any connections. I brought a friend and went in with an optimistic mindset and expecting the show to revolve around Hammerstep, a dancing trio that competed on “America’s got Talent.” They revolutionized traditional Irish dancing by incorporating Hip-Hop dance moves. To my dismay Hammerstep only performed in one number and it was the last one. Meaning, I had to sit through six mediocre numbers before seeing Hammerstep’s amazing footwork. The show was centered on UD’s dance ensemble. The shows’ ensemble director and choreographer was Richard F. Mosley II and the assistant rehearsal director and choreographer was Ami Gallagher. The show focused on upperclassmen at UD. But after what I saw, I hope none of them have intentions of entering the real dance world because they will get torn apart. They weren’t dreadful but they were nowhere close to being on a professional caliber. The showed appeared disheveled, low budget, and needed a little more rehearsal. The only thing that kept my attention was one of the two male dancers that was very cute, muscular, and wore tights.
Every dance number had a different story. They tackled controversial narratives including the homeless and the Holocaust. The Holocaust number entitled “Forbidden” entailed a tragic love story between a prison guard and prisoner in a concentration camp. It was the only above-average number. The background music was Rihanna’s “Stay.” I am huge Rihanna fan and hearing the song in high definition within a silent theatre gave me chills and almost progressed me to tears. Riahnna’s vocals moved me more than the actual dance performance. There was one point when the male prisoner picked up the female guard and almost dropped her. Besides that mishap it was a decent performance. Though the beginning and middle was run-of-the-mill, the ending was incredible. The three members of Hammerstep entered the stage at staggered intervals. They wore all black and bull masks. The entire dance ensemble was in this number and stayed in the center of the stage while Hammerstep surrounded them. Each member of Hammerstep had a dance solo. Their footing was in perfect harmony with the drumming of the upbeat and intense music. Then the entire ensemble rose and joined Hammerstep by mimicking their dance moves seamlessly. Then the music stopped and lights went out. The performance ended and I quickly rose to my feet to applaud Hammerstep on being the perfect villains. Hammerstep saved the performance from being a total disappointment. As a whole, the show had potential but ultimately fell flat.
“We’re storytelling people.” Taj Weeks of “Taj Weeks & Adowa” is quoted with saying this about his native culture in St. Lucia, located on the eastern Caribbean Sea, where he developed the foundation of his musical talents. Throughout his career, Taj developed a social responsibility that can be seen through his art. He’s not only a musician; he also created a nonprofit organization called They Often Cry Outreach. This provides everything from post-hurricane humanitarian aid to shoes and soccer balls to children in need. I witnessed this inspiring band and their significant message when I saw the band live on November 14th in Kennedy Union’s Boll Theatre. This was my first reggae concert and though I had preconceived conceptions, I was excited to see what a reggae concert truly encompassed. I was surprised at how few people showed up; the audience was in less than half capacity. I thought a reggae concert would have been greatly sought after with college students. Once the band started playing, it was exactly what I expected. It was simple, no background just the band and their instruments, dreads, and the message of peace. When my professor informed me that the band religiously smokes weed I was not at all surprised. Also, I appropriately sported my tie-dye shoes that I got at Urban Outfitters. Taj is the lead singer and guitarist while the other band members supplied background vocals and played the bass, guitar, keyboard, and drums. The music was authentic reggae music with jazz influences. There were times when I could not understand the lyrics, they were like poetry, but I could see the pain in Taj’s face and feel the pain from his vocals. I can tell he lived a difficult life. But the messages of peace, unity, and standing up against injustices were easily inferred.
Throughout the performance, I was drawn to the only female vocalist. She was regal, beautiful, and almost stoic. She was wearing a long black maxi dress that fluidly moved with her. Her vocals were soft but powerful. As I looked around at the audience I saw everyone swaying back and forth to the music. I also realized how eclectic the audience was. It was full of hippies with long hair, unshaved facial hair, and old, raggedy clothes. I even saw one women wearing a jean jacket, that must have been from the Good Will, which contained Bob Marley’s face on it. It was clear everyone, self-included, was enjoying themselves. They entire band was incredibly talented and I think it says something that they command everyone’s attention with an almost bare stage. The band finished and left but then reentered the stage for an encore. That is when the audience really let loose. They left the area of their seats and started dancing. It became a mini mosh pit. Suitably, they finished the encore with a peace sign. I left the show feeling happy and hopeful for our world’s humanity.
In my junior year of high school it appeared my entire grade was carrying the Hunger Games. That black cover and mockingbird followed me everywhere I went. My time to sit down and read a book was limited. I was already stretched too thin with cross-country practice, schoolwork, and ACT prep. But then it was adapted into a film. So, then every corner I took contained a poster with Jennifer Lawrence wearing a side braid and holding a bow and arrow. The trailer for the Hunger Games looked promising but my desire to see the movie did not overturn my willingness to spend fifteen dollars at the movie theatre. I figured I would just rent it from Redbox on a slow Friday night. But life is hectic and I simply never made it a priority to see it. But on a dreary Sunday afternoon I was finally exposed to the magnitude that is the Hunger Games. Looking back the experience took me back to middle school with soft drinks, pizza, and a movie awaiting the student’s arrival. After gratefully grabbing a Pepsi and four slices of pizza I made myself comfortable in studio B on artstreet on November 17th. The movie begins slowly but the moment Katniss volunteers as tribute you can’t help but root for her. She is not conventionally likable but her humbleness and selflessness makes it impossible to root against her. I became emotionally invested very quickly. I even became agitated when my classmates were talking and had to stop myself from shushing them. The scene when the televised games begin and Katniss is brought up in a tube and looks upon the weapons and supplies my heart literally dropped.
There were a few interruptions with the weather, but if anything, it just added to the intensity of the environment. But throughout the entire movie my shoulders were tensed up, heart racing, and palms were sweating. Watching the movie was incredibly draining. I could not relax until Katniss and Peeta were proclaimed the victors of the 74th Hunger Games. After the movie ended I left feeling exhilarated and inspired. The complex story lines are the reason for it being such a phenomenon. There was something for everyone. It was a combination of Romeo and Juliet, The Truman Show, 1984, and Harry Potter. It tackled young love, communism, poverty, and the fakeness of scripted reality television. Also, the film revolved around feminism. Katniss, a woman, saves the day, and a man does not define her anyway. She was the Beyonce of the Hunger Games. She encompassed everything Beyonce stands for: determining one’s worth based on yourself and independence; not on a man. I also liked that Katniss was taller then Peeta, which symbolically defined their power dynamic. The film was genius and I am hooked. I now desperately want to see Catching Fire and read the trilogy. Though it took me a little longer than everyone else, I am officially invested into the phenomenon that is The Hunger Games.
My friend Kathleen and I were sitting in the Artstreet café hoping the creative energy of the street would transfer to us while brainstorming a topic for our pecha kucha presentation competition. This is a timed power point that entails 20 slides that changes every 20 seconds. Timing is crucial. The topic had to be related to literacy but we also wanted it to be attention grabbing. We could not think of anything that was even moderately inspiring. But then I came up with the idea of doing it on the 20 most famous pieces of literature of all time, which of course included The Great Gatsby. We would quickly discuss fun facts about the novel and author. The only problem is that 20 seconds is a very small amount of time and we would only be able to scratch the surface for each novel. But then it hit me: The Great Gatsby. It’s one of the most famous novels of the 20th century and with the recent adaptation of the novel starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Carey Mulligan, Gatsby was fresh inside everyone’s minds. We divided the presentation into two parts. I researched the first half, which delved into the tragic biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald discussing his alcoholic tendencies, commercial failure, works, and his tremulous relationship with his wife Zelda. The second half was centered on The Great Gatsby. Kathleen wrote a short summary, discussed how at its release it was considered an insignificant piece of literature, and revealed parallels between Fitzgerald’s and Jay Gatsby’s life. Both Kathleen and myself knew exactly what we wanted to say and felt reasonably prepared. Competition night presented itself on November 12th and I put on a Gatsby appropriate outfit including a black Ralph Lauren sweater and red colored pants from H&M. As Kathleen and myself were heading to Sears Recital Hall in the humanities building, my nerves set-in and I remember my fear of public speaking. We entered the building and found our seats quickly next to the other contestants. The organizer, Patrick Thomas, said a few quick words and then the competition began.
The first presenter was in my opinion the best and discussed gender related communication. It was informal, natural but knowledgeable. Luckily, we didn’t have to go after him. We were the fifth presentation and walking up to the stage my legs were very shaky and my palms were sweaty. Even though the hall was not even remotely close to being a full I was still incredibly nervous. Kathleen told me she was anxious as well but she appeared very cool and collected. We both held sheets of paper that contained exactly what we planed on saying. My voice was slightly shaky and I believe it was fairly obvious that I was nervous. I attempted to strike a confident pose but my leg started shaking. So, it ended up being counterproductive. I have a nervous habit of gulping. I gulped a minimal of eleven times throughout our demonstration. Kathleen and I took terns speaking for each slide. Overall, I think we did okay. It could have gone better. Our topic and information was interesting but our presentation was stale, controlled, and too rehearsed. I wish I had been more relaxed and confident. All the other presentations were unmemorable except the first one who got robbed by placing second. Unsurprisingly we did not win. Overall it was a positive experience. Though my portion of the presentation could have gone better, it was still a growing experience and I’m one step closer to being a confident speaker.
As my peers and myself reluctantly walked into Dayton’s downtown amphitheater on September 27th to see Dayton’s Philharmonic perform on a Friday night I heard many complaints. The fact that it was on a Friday night only added to the resentment to the performance. A majority of the student audience was wishing they were wandering through the Ghetto instead of listening to classical music. Dayton’s Philharmonic was performing Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and was directed by Neal Gittleman. The performance was broken down into two parts. The first portion broke down the piece musically and discussed how scandalous the piece was at the time. The performance included the orchestra playing, dancers, and the audience rioted. I truly wish I could have been there to witness it. The performance would have been much more entertaining that way. The first half was just one big teaching moment and after having class all day I was uninterested. Also, I unintentionally dozed off for a few minutes. I know it is disrespectful but I was exhausted and could not fight off the dullness of the performance.
I welcomed intermission. Many students left at intermission and payed for a cab to get back to campus. It also did not help that I was seated in the nosebleed area and was unable to see the supposed remarkable ceiling. But I went to the restroom and got the blood flowing again before getting back to me seat. The second half was better. Only the Philharmonic played and they are very talented. They were dressed in all black and were completely in sync. The music was almost bipolar. The music transitioned abruptly from feeling depressed and angry to happy and hopeful. I then found myself watching the elderly man next to me watch the performance. He was so emotionally invested into the performance. He sat at the edge of his seat and watched with awe. His hands moved in perfect rhythm with the instruments, like he was playing an invisible instrument. I could tell he was moved. The elderly woman next to him, who I assume is his wife, was not enjoying as much as he did. The ending occurred and people clapped. I was happy to leave and excited to officially start my Friday night. As I was riding on the bus back to campus I came to the conclusion that classical music is like coffee, it is an acquired taste and very few truly enjoy it.
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”