Bulldog Days emphasize arts strength

Yale arts were a focus of this year’s Bulldog Days Extracurricular Bazaar. A capella, theater, improv and dance filled a quarter of Payne Whitney as groups tried to entice prospective students.
Yale arts were a focus of this year’s Bulldog Days Extracurricular Bazaar. A capella, theater, improv and dance filled a quarter of Payne Whitney as groups tried to entice prospective students. Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

Arts were at the center of both last and this year’s Bulldog Days.

Every year, prospective freshmen find themselves wandering through classrooms, performance halls, gymnasiums and butteries learning about the 300 plus organizations Yale has to offer. The University’s focus on the arts is clear in the number of a capella open rehearsals, comedy performances and dance events it offers during Bulldog Days. Eleven current freshmen and prospective students said they were in awe of the Bulldog Days Welcome Showcase that takes place yearly, which features a variety of singing and dance groups, adding that the event was the highlight of their visiting experience.

“The arts were way more prominent during Bulldog Days than any other extracurricular activity because it’s easy to get people to come out and sing or perform,” current Shades member Hannah Sears ’16 said. “Seeing [a Shades member] sing during the Showcase was inspiring, and it definitely pushed me to join the group in the fall.”

All 11 current and prospective students interviewed said they found Yale’s singing, theater and comedy groups very inviting over Bulldog Days, with many arts groups hosting open rehearsals and interactive performances in addition to events like the Showcase. Ben Paltiel ’16, who is now a member of the Spizzwinks(?), recalled visiting several a capella open rehearsals. He said members of the group allowed him not only to observe but also to request specific songs and, in one case, sing along with the group.

“They really made me feel at home,” Paltiel said.

Paltiel added that he hopes to give prospective students a similarly positive experience by being enthusiastic about his involvement in the arts at Yale and helping prospective students feel at home. Still, Esther Portyansky ’16, who performs in the Yale Glee Club and Magevet, remembers prospective students feeling as though Yale students were trying to “sell” them on their extracurriculars.

“Everyone was trying to sell a product and [prospective students] are really skeptical and cynical of that [product],” Portyansky said. “It’s really important to communicate to them that we are not selling anything that we do not 100 percent love and believe in. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t love being in an a cappella group, and they just want to share that love.”

Both Sears and Portyansky said they felt performances were better displays of the arts on campus than the Extracurricular Bazaar, which was too crowded to display the talents of each group fully. Portyansky said she explored most a cappella options during rush rather than Bulldog Days as a result.

Six prospective students interviewed at Bulldog Days this year felt similarly overwhelmed by the Extracurricular Bazaar, but nevertheless remain excited about the arts after seeing performances, namely the Bulldog Days Welcome Showcase.

“I think the Showcase definitely encouraged me to pursue the arts,” prospective student Aaron Troncoso said. “I thought [a cappella] was pretty cool. It seems almost like a frat. You have to rush at the beginning of the year, and it seems that they have their own social scene and parties, like their own a cappella bubble that still branches out, and I like that.”

Prospective student Austin Pruitt said the performances opened his eyes to the creativity and talent of Yale students, while prospective student Jesse Goodman said the performers were “more talented than on other campuses [he’s] visited.”

Bulldog Days began on Monday and ends today.

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