Improv to a cappella, arts fill winter weekend

Kicking off with Thursday’s talk by French film director and screenwriter Olivier Assayas, the Fourth Annual Winter Arts Festival, which took place this weekend, featured 16 artistic events ranging from film screenings to a bookmaking workshop.

The Winter Arts Festival, sponsored by the Yale Student Activities Committee, took place from Thursday to Sunday and included screenings of Assayas’ movies, dance performances, improvisational-comedy shows on Friday, a photography exhibition and musical performances on Saturday and a bookmaking workshop on Sunday. The student performers included Yale’s oldest improv-comedy troupe, Purple Crayon, the a cappella group Mixed Company, the Yale Symphony Orchestra and the Yale Bhangra Team.

The Yale Bhangra Team, one of 16 events featured at the Fourth Annual Winter Arts Festival, performs in Battell Chapel on Friday night.
Calgary Leveen
The Yale Bhangra Team, one of 16 events featured at the Fourth Annual Winter Arts Festival, performs in Battell Chapel on Friday night.

Students interviewed said they enjoyed the array of talents showcased throughout the weekend, but they think there is room for expansion to include less-exposed arts groups in future years.

YSAC representative Daniel Schechner ’10, who was in charge of planning the festival, said this year’s events were more organized and publicized than previous years’.

“Some things, like the rainy weather on Friday, just couldn’t be helped,” Schechner said. “In terms of publicity, we had a bunch of hard-copy and electronic fliers and campus-wide e-mails, as well as announcements in college newsletters and at SAC meetings. The individual groups also publicized their events.”

Schechner explained that YSAC contacted performing-arts and crafts groups on campus to drum up interest in exhibitions.

“I’m always amazed at the amount of talent here at Yale and how many student groups love to showcase that talent,” he said, adding that YSAC allowed student organizations to determine the content of their performances.

Students interviewed said they found the arts festival more enjoyable and successful than in previous years. Muratcan Bilgincan ’08, who is in the process of producing an independent movie, said the major improvement of this year’s festival was Assayas’ involvement.

“We get the opportunity to see a cappella groups and dancing societies perform numerous times throughout the year,” Bilgincan said. “I think of the four winter arts festivals I have seen, this one by far was the best because of its emphasis on Assayas’ movies.”

Jarrett Moran ’10 said he enjoyed Saturday’s exhibition by Gaze Magazine, which featured photographs from Ted Gordon ’08, Nick Barton ’08 and Ani Katz ’08.

“I especially like Ted Gordon’s portraits,” he said. “I like the distinct, well-composed style to his portraits.”

Liz Koenig ’08, editor of The Gaze, said YSAC succeeded in presenting an eclectic range of art work that most students usually never see. The event gave Barton and Gordon — who are not photography majors — the opportunity to display their work, she said.

Katz, a former photography editor for the News, said her part of the exhibit was the product of time spent outside Toad’s Place observing and photographing intimate public interactions.

“I wanted to show the discomfort of being around other people in parties and concerts. To make social interactions seem unfamiliar, I showed the intimacy and the disconnection,” Katz said. “It comes from my fears of interacting with people.”

The festival still has room for growth, several students said. Esen Sefik ’09 said the event should feature more than just well-known student performance groups.

“Most of the people at Yale have seen a cappella groups and YSO perform,” she said. “The Winter Festival should initiate excitement for new types of art. I have never seen a ballet performance in one of their events.”

The events should be more publicized across campus, said Hande Altun ’09, who attended the Mixed Company “Snow Job” performance on Saturday.

“Most of the Yalies who are here have come to see their friends perform,” she said. “Word of mouth is efficient, but more publicity is needed.”

The Winter Arts Festival this year also included a two-hour bookmaking workshop at the Yale Center for British Art.

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