If you happened to be walking around the CCT atrium at 6 p.m. last Friday, you would have been greeted by a jazz trio and some of UTM’s finest artists displaying their work for ArtsFest. For two hours, the atrium was transformed into a gallery displaying some of the best pieces UTM students had to offer.
Artistic Resource Team program coordinator and fourth-year biology specialist Arjan Banerjee, who has been involved with ART for four years, describes one of the pieces as a “visual representation of sound”, an attraction where the sound and the visuals follow one another.
Submissions were chosen through an application process. For the visual showcase, ART chose pieces based on practicality, authenticity, and not being profane, all within the “realms of expression”, according to Banerjee.
The performance showcase had an audition process in December. Performances were chosen based on variety and merit. Performances included the U of T Med dance team, monologues, acoustic, original song pieces, and even a harmonica.
“We don’t want to curb what art means, so we wanted to showcase people who do it well, people who express themselves, and people who have stage presence,” said Banerjee.
None of the proceeds from ArtsFest’s ticket sales fund the ART, but instead go towards prizes for the artists. Prizes were awarded for various categories in the visual showcase and performance showcase.
Most categories were judged by community leaders English and theatre professor Lawrence Switzky, performance artist Pamela Levi, and director of UTM Student Housing and Residence Life Chad Nuttall. The Viewers’ Choice award was based on the audience’s reactions.
There were tons of incredible pieces. Some of my favourites were “WWCFW” by Lesley Hampton, “RIP” by Myley Marin, “Smaug and the Bowman” by Arjun Mann, “Coexist” by Amy Liyanage, “Fragmentation” by Israel A. Crooks, and Ifunanya Paulinus’s pieces, “Village People: The Widows” and “Village People: Great Grandmother. She’s 115 years old”.
After mingling with those who dropped by to view the art and eat food from the buffet, people began to pile in for the performing artists in the MiST Theatre for a sold out show. Arvin Huang opened the show with an incredible performance on the violin. He played beautifully—if two hours flew by with just Huang on the violin, I wouldn’t have minded.
Following him was the UTM Dance Team, who danced to a piece choreographed by Samantha Bordignon about triumphing over a painful experience. They danced to “All of the Stars” by Ed Sheeran, but their performance ended mid-song, which was awkward and a little confusing. They didn’t stop at the end of the song or even the chorus, just after the second verse, and people waited a few seconds before clapping because we didn’t know if they were done.
Next was Rachel Lebovic, taking on the very ambitious and difficult to nail opera piece “La Habanera”. In the pamphlets handed out to audience members, Lebovic’s biography says, “She wishes she was even half as sassy as Carmen was,” which, for the most part, she was. She did quite well on the song, even though no one is as sassy as Carmen.
One of the standout performances of the night was Kaitlyn White’s monologue from “The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine”. She was very convincing and I appreciated hearing someone give a monologue, since it’s not something you see very often at a talent show.
Sarah Kim, Kristy Cheung, and Gen Yamada followed White with an acoustic Sam Smith medley. Kim was great on lead vocals, but unfortunately Cheung’s backup was completely drowned out by her guitar and Kim’s voice.
Megha Manvi was next with her cover of “I’m Not the Only One”. During technical difficulties, she confided in the audience that she was sleep-deprived and nervous. You wouldn’t have known it to hear her, though. She sang beautifully even through the awkward clapping the top row tried to start (and inevitably failed) in rhythm to her song.
Keeping the Sam Smith theme going, Daniela DeAgazio came next with a dance to “How Will I Know?”. The emotion in her face really brought the audience along with her.
Hannah Termaat and Zenia Sethna were next with a song and tap-dance that I found unique, if clunky. Sethna sang “Valerie” while Termaat charismatically tap-danced around the stage. I found Termaat’s bubbly persona charming and adorable, but the dancing didn’t really go well with the song. But the pair did fit very well together, bouncing off one another and making a playful odd couple on stage.
After a performance by singer-songwriter Bryce Hedden was Christopher Luey on the harmonica, playing the same song he did at the coffeehouse last semester: “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. Even so, he did it just as well as then, flooring the audience and becoming one of my favourite performances of the night.
Rachelle Goebel’s musical monologue was absolutely breathtaking; she sang wonderfully, she was immersed in her character, and she was a joy to watch.
Kelsey Mooney was next with a tap-dance routine to “Superstitious” by Stevie Wonder. She owned the stage in her sparkly outfit, making the most out of the space given to her. (She, like a couple of the other performers, had some friends in the audience who cheered her on during the performance and interrupted the flow a little.)
Jillian Robinson concluded the evening with her cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Bound to You”. With so many notable performances already under her belt such as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods and Cosette in Les Misérables, as well as singing the anthem for Marlies games, Robinson had no trouble owning the crowd.
As the judges voted for their favourites and counted the votes for Viewers’ Choice, Sean Kinsella came on stage to perform two songs: a cover and an original song he wrote for his sister in Hong Kong. As he’s done before, Kinsella tried to get the audience to sing along to the chorus, without much luck.
Cat Criger came out to announce the winners of the art contest (which he was judging): Ifunanya Paulinus for “Village People: Great Grandmother. She’s 115 years old” and Lesley Hampton for “WWCFW”. The Viewers’ Choice award went to Kristy Cheung.
As for the performing arts awards, judges handed awards to Megha Manvi (Judges’ Choice), Christopher Luey (Best Musical Performance), and Rachelle Goebel (Best Dance/Drama Performance). Hannah Termaat and Zenia Sethna won Viewers’ Choice.
Before I finish, I must mention the MC. During the night, he mentioned that the only people who read The Medium are those who are featured in it or their friends. He added that he only uses the paper to sop up the water on his floor after his toilet clogs because, while our content might not be absorbing, our physical paper is. He also later found out that a writer was there and then said readers would have the opportunity to read a 20% accurate report on Monday. Oh dear.
But he later said that he insulted what is actually a very respectable paper, which, I suppose, lets him off the hook. So, to quote him further, “Nah. We’re good. We’re good.”