From bagpipers to bhangra, Yale’s various artistic groups played to receptive audiences who beat both rain and a lack of hype to take advantage of this weekend’s Winter Arts Festival.
YSAC’s Third Annual Winter Arts Festival kicked off Friday with the arrival of Lewis Black, continued Saturday night with a variety show at Sudler Hall and a talent showcase at the Calhoun Cabaret, and culminated Sunday in an array of activities including a fashion show and Yale TV student work marathon. The groups that performed ranged from well-known a cappella groups like Proof of the Pudding and the Duke’s Men to more esoteric groups like Bulldog Pipes and Drums and the Yale Bhangra Society.
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YSAC member Carrie Nguyen ’09 said she thought the event went well overall, though advertising for the weekend’s activities could have been improved.
“[The Winter Arts Festival] came at a difficult time this year,” Nguyen said, “We were just coming off a really big show, Last Comic Standing, and we had to devote a ton of attention to Lewis Black. With multiple events, it’s tough to keep the buzz going.”
Nguyen said she hoped next year’s Winter Arts Festival will attract more groups and generate more publicity.
The decision to move Lewis Black’s show to the same weekend of the Festival came as a result of a scheduling conflict in Woolsey Hall this autumn, said Yale College Council Treasurer David Roosth ’09, who was largely in charge of Black’s Yale appearance. Nguyen said that move probably overshadowed the other performances that were part of the festival.
Students praised the entire weekend as enjoyable and interesting. Zachary Curtis ’07 praised Saturday’s Bridge Talent Showcase, which featured music, poetry and stand-up by Yale performers, as an excellent exhibition of Yale’s arts community.
“I’m a big fan of the arts, as well as being an artist,” he said. “I’m a fan of any opportunity to showcase talent.”
Pointing out that the event also gave artists the opportunity to connect with other artists, Cain Soltoff ’08, who played guitar at the Bridge, said YSAC succeeded in maintaining the authenticity of a coffee house-style open mic.
“This kind of style is the best way to display the music and the different art of all the people,” he said.
James Pollack ’09 has been organizing open mic nights in the Saybrook 12-Pack since the beginning of the semester. He said the idea for the Bridge arose from an acoustic performance at Koffee Too?
“We wanted to recreate that coffee-house environment — that low-stress place where people could come and hang out and just enjoy themselves,” he said. “There’s really just not a scene here for it.”
Curtis, who rapped at the event, also spoke about the need to foster Yale’s growing arts network.
“Given more publicity, the arts scene could certainly grow,” he said.
Publicity seems to be one place where the Winter Arts Festival has room for growth. Sydney Lapeyrolerie ’10, who attended the YCouture fashion show on Sunday afternoon, said she thought the Festival was poorly advertised. The partially-filled Pierson Dining Hall testified to the small Yale fashion community that organizers of the event had hoped to broaden through the Winter Arts Festival.
But Caitlin Bray ’09 and Danielle McDonnough ’09, who produced the event, said the turnout was better than expected for the Sunday before the Super Bowl.
Designer Stephanie Soderborg ’09 said she thought the show ran well and she enjoyed the opportunity to exhibit her work to a community with sometimes-spotty fashion sensibilities.
“Some people [at Yale] are incredibly fashionable, some have no idea what they’re doing,” she said.
The weekend also benefits campus arts groups through additional exposure. For Bulldog Pipes and Drums, Yale’s only Scottish music club, the weekend was a good opportunity to expose the group to a larger audience, club co-founder John Errico said.
“We were told [by YSAC members] that Bhangra and Bulldog Pipes and Drums were the two crowd favorites,” he said, referencing Ranjhey Yale Dey, Yale’s Bhangra dance team.
This year’s third annual Winter Arts Festival also featured a drawing session, Masters’ Teas and knitting lessons, among other activities.