First Thursdays arts and humanities festival offers costume party, dance and fresh fare

First Thursdays Sept 2016

IU’s First Thursdays festival launched last month with a lively mix of arts and cultural events.

IU Newsroom intern Amanda N. Marino contributed to this story:

IU Bloomington’s new monthly celebration of the arts and humanities will return Oct. 6 with a fresh schedule of entertainment and activities.

First Thursdays are free festivals designed to engage students and other members of the community at Indiana University, in Bloomington and beyond. The action is focused around the Arts Plaza surrounding Showalter Fountain from 5 to 7:30 p.m., with several events later radiating out across the campus.

For October, the forecast is sunny with a good chance of dance.

Overall, this month’s program is a bit mellow, with books and blankets, a Renaissance band, pottery and hot apple cider, said Ed Comentale, the associate vice provost for arts and humanities. “I can’t think of a better way to kick off fall break,” he said.

From 5 to 7 p.m., the main stage will feature the Singing Hoosiers, IU Contemporary Dance, African American Dance Company and IU Opera. The Bloomington rock band Spissy will run through its set at 7 p.m., just days before the start of an eight-city tour through the Midwest, Boston and Brooklyn.

Global inspirations

With such an expansive event, there will be choices that suit many tastes and showcase several cultures.

The acoustic tent offers hula dancers, Brazilian martial arts and early music played as Shakespeare would have heard it.

The Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance will present live demonstrations of stage combat from the students of new faculty member Leraldo Anzaldua. And the Shakespearean Insults Wheel is back by popular demand, offering prizes along with verbal slings and arrows.

An assistant professor in the department, Jennifer Goodlander, will share an unusual form of shadow play in shows at 5:15 and 6:15 p.m. in a separate tent.

Goodlander has spent years crafting and performing with Balinese puppets.

Jennifer Goodlander with Balinese puppets

Jennifer Goodlander demonstrates the Balinese art of Wayang Kulit. File photo.

“While I was a student at University of Hawaii, a friend directed me in a puppet performance,” she said. “It was love at first sight. They are so clever, beautiful and funny.”

Goodlander said she began studying in Bali in 2008 under a master puppeteer. After more than a year of work, she went through an intense ritual initiation and then was able to perform.

“I still go back and learn more when I can,” she said. “It is such a diverse art form there is always more to learn.”

These performances, called Wayang Kulit, are said to be for the gods’ entertainment. Though the puppets are beautiful and intricately designed, humans watch the performance through a screen, allowed to see only a shadow of the performance.

Though a single puppeteer will work with a variety of puppets, Goodlander said each puppet has its own personality.

Performances are for audiences of all ages, she said. While telling a story, the shows also educate people about Balinese religion and history, as well as Indonesian culture.

Explore by doing

Vik Muniz Action Photo

Vik Muniz’s “Action Photo (after Hans Namuth)” is from his “Pictures in Chocolate” series. Image courtesy of Galerie Xippas, Paris. Art © Vik Muniz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

“First Thursdays is all about learning by doing, learning through the senses,” Comentale said. “Everything you experience here is linked to a course, a program, a degree. We want visitors to have a chance to explore their own creativity and their own ideas, which is also why we offer so many hands-on craft activities.”

Visitors can make pottery or try their hand at poetry, letterpress printing, limestone carving, Chinese calligraphy, Turkish water marbling and Samoan star-weaving.

At the Eskenazi Museum of Art, people can tour the galleries, play “I Spy” or relax with some coloring. They also can get into the spirit of the new Vik Muniz retrospective by painting with chocolate and listening to Brazilian beats.

After hours

Even when things wind down on the Arts Plaza, free events await discovery across the campus.

The 1927 silent film “Wings,” which won the first Academy Award for Best Picture will be screened at 7 p.m. at IU Cinema. A discussion with Andrea Kalas, the head of preservation at Paramount Pictures, will follow.

Mister Lonely

Costumes are encouraged for the “Mister Lonely” film screening and party at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

At the Jacobs School of Music, students and faculty will join sarod master and artist-in-residence Amjad Ali Khan at 8 p.m. for a concert in Auer Hall.

A “Mister Lonely” film screening and costume party extends from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

The 2007 film directed by Harmony Korine is a wild and dreamlike romp through the interwoven lives of a Michael Jackson lookalike, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and her family members who live in character as Charlie Chaplin and Shirley Temple. The film is not rated but contains some language and mature content that might have earned it an R.

Guests are encouraged to dress up but also are welcome to simply enjoy free popcorn, tour the galleries, make masks and pose for photos before the movie begins.

More on the menu

This month’s food offerings include root beer floats, hand-cut french fries and gourmet sliders from chef David Tallent of IU’s Traditions Catering. Choices include a classic cheeseburger with American cheese and dill pickle, a veggie burger with pimento cheese and onions or a burger with caramelized onions, goat cheese and truffle mayonnaise. Prices are $2 to $4.50 for each item.

Residential Programs and Services is offering a chicken caprese panini, a tomato and mozzarella panini and a sweet banana foster panini, all priced at $3. Cash, credit cards or I-Bucks will be accepted.

A more complete menu of the First Thursdays events and activities appears on the Arts and Humanities Council website.

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