Courtesy UCCS Presents
Guangdong Modern Dance Company
When Aisha Ahmad-Post, director of UCCS’ Ent Center for the Arts
, curated the first UCCS Presents Artist Series, the Ent Center was still under construction, and she was still relatively new to this city. She says she put the first season and a half together “in a bubble,” though she had a clear and worthy objective: to bring diverse and conversation-starting performance art and music to Colorado Springs.
Now, as the Ent Center rolls out its Artist Series for 2019-2020, its second full season, Ahmad-Post’s confidence in her vision is well-deserved, and she’s got some impressive acts on the lineup to prove it. “I'm really excited about the about the diversity of voices and artistic experiences and traditions that are going to be part of the series,” she says.
The series is divided into five categories: Classical, Jazz, Cabaret, Dance and a new category that Ahmad-Post calls the “Global Get Down.” These are acts that could conceivably be placed in another category, yet showcase something vibrant and beautiful about another culture and its traditions and identities.
As a curator, she says, she struggles with putting performances into genres with arguable, or even problematic, interpretations. “And this Global Get Down series was really sort of my way to start working through as a curator: How can I eventually start to sort of blow away these boundaries and genres and let the music just sort of speak for itself?”
In the Global lineup, you’ll find such diverse acts as Slavic Soul Party, a Balkan brass band; A Celtic Family Christmas,
Celtic fiddling; and Gaby Moreno, a Guatemalan singer-songwriter. But the diversity extends far beyond just the Global series, too.
Some of Ahmad-Post’s favorite acts on the lineup come from the dance category, including Guangdong Modern Dance Company, which explores the tradition of Chinese calligraphy through movement.
“Guangdong Modern Dance obviously is from China. But they take modern dance and then apply it to a more traditional art. And then Ballet Hispánico takes modern dance … then includes more traditional dance traditions from around Latin America. So you're using the form of modern dance to explore two different cultural traditions. That seems really important to me.”
Courtesy UCCS Presents
The dance category also includes Rubberband Dance Group, an innovative troupe that has forged its own style through modern and breakdance traditions; and AXIS Dance Company, the first dance group to highlight individuals with physical disabilities.
When it comes to music, Ahmad-Post, a “survivor of music school” herself, was very intentional about bringing different interpretations of classical music to the Ent Center stage, and ensuring that these acts were accessible. “And so, PUBLIQuartet felt really important to bring because I think they're doing an interesting thing when it comes to innovation and improvisation within a traditional classical music sphere,” she says, adding that they possibly could have been included in the jazz category, as well. It's a kind of classical music that we rarely, if ever, see in the Springs.
So no matter the genre of preference for Ent Center audiences, this season will likely break down boundaries and open up the stage to new voices. Among these voices, cabaret rockstar Justin Vivian Bond; guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage performing a rare duo concert; The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Ian Neville and more presenting Take Me To the River: New Orleans Live; and plenty more.
Moreover, continuing a long-standing UCCS tradition of prologues and town halls to deepen understanding and engagement, the Artist Series will include community conversations and educational opportunities, many as-yet to be determined. “So we're going to have one [talk] on curating art in the political divide,” Ahmad-Post says. “I'd love to have a conversation at some point about audience expectations … And then, of course, conversations around the actual music, and work itself.”
Subscriptions are available for purchase now
, including special packages. Keep an eye on the Ent Center’s social media pages
for updates on talks and town halls, and see below for a full schedule of the 2019-2020 season:
GABY MORENO: AUGUST 22, 2019
RUBBERBAND DANCE GROUP: SEPTEMBER 26, 2019
TAKE ME TO THE RIVER: NEW ORLEANS LIVE!: OCTOBER 11, 2019
DEMARRE MCGILL: OCTOBER 19, 2019
CHARLES BUSCH: OCTOBER 26, 2019
BALLET HISPÁNICO: NOVEMBER 1, 2019
SLAVIC SOUL PARTY!: NOVEMBER 23, 2019
SPANISH HARLEM ORCHESTRA: DECEMBER 1, 2019
BILL FRISELL & JULIAN LAGE: DECEMBER 6, 2019
A CELTIC FAMILY CHRISTMAS: DECEMBER 18, 2019
GUANGDONG MODERN DANCE COMPANY: JANUARY 29, 2020
JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND: FEBRUARY 1, 2020
A FAR CRY: FEBRUARY 11, 2020
KAT EDMONSON: FEBRUARY 14, 2020
AXIS DANCE COMPANY: FEBRUARY 22, 2020
SAM BUSH: FEBRUARY 28, 2020
NICHOLAS PAYTON QUARTET: MARCH 7, 2020
PUBLIQUARTET: APRIL 2, 2020
MEOW MEOW: APRIL 17, 2020
EMANUEL AX: MAY 10, 2020