Students and faculty share talents on Weis Center Blog

Juliette Gaggini, Contributing Writer

The Weis Center for the Performing Arts has brought world-class musicians, dancers and performers to the University audiences for over 30 years with the mission of “[leaving audiences] inspired, moved and energized.” Even with COVID-19 restrictions, the Weis Center has continued to engage community members with weekly blog postings of the Weis Center Sessions.

Every Friday since June, The Weis Center has released a pre-recorded video that features a member of the University community performing for the Weis Center Sessions Blog. Performances range from dance, song, instrumental performance, poetry and spoken word.

“While we miss gathering together for live performances, the Weis Center Sessions presented a terrific opportunity for us to showcase the wide range of talents and interests of the University community,” Kathryn Maguet, the director of the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, said. “The origin of this online program began with an idea to highlight Weis Center technical capabilities coupled with a desire to shine a light on the University’s  artistic community.”

Music Education major Ryan Hill ’24 performed “Waltz for Debby” on the piano in the Oct. 20 installment. “I chose to play ‘Waltz for Debby’ because it was the song that made me love jazz music. I remember early in high school listening to a jazz playlist on Spotify and this piece came on. I was blown away by how beautiful it was, and I wanted to learn it as soon as possible. I believe it really shows off everything that is great about jazz, and allows for a lot of passion to be shown in the playing,” Hill said.

Chiara Evans ’21 performed a traditional Balinese Dance in the Oct. 2 installment. Evans is a biology major with a dance minor. One of the reasons Evans chose to attend the University was because of the dance department. “The professors are really engaged and supportive, and there are so many opportunities for us to perform, create, and learn from a variety of sources. I feel like I can focus on dancing and the joy it brings me without feeling like I’m competing with my peers, which is amazing,” Evans said.

Evans had performed a Balinese dance routine in the Weis Center lobby in 2019. Evans has traveled to Bali where she took Balinese dance lessons, and also studied abroad in Indonesia where she learned about Balinese religion and culture. “Since I am a white person performing a traditional Balinese dance, I try to be mindful that I’m approaching the performance from a place that’s appreciative and curious, not appropriative. I am in no way a professional or expert in Balinese dance, I just happen to think it’s beautiful and interesting to learn about. My hope is that this video will make someone interested in Balinese dance, and that they’ll find some more authentic videos of real Balinese dancers performing,” Evans wrote on the Weis Center Sessions Blog.

Quentin Andrews ’24 performed an original spoken-word piece titled “I’ll Be Your Mechanic” for the Sept. 11 installment. Andrews enjoys writing poetry and has been performing his poetry since his sophomore year of high school, including an appearance at the Kennedy Center. “My performance was about a past crush. On this random night, I just had words and lines coming to my head one after another. I took my phone out and went to work. I showed it to my friends and they loved it. They said I have to do something about it,” Andrews said. “This was a really unusual piece for me. I mainly write poems about myself or my feelings towards challenges I’ve faced or came to realize.”

The Weis Center Sessions provide a platform for members of the community to share all their different interests. For instance, Jim Van Fleet, librarian for science and engineering resources in the Bertrand Library, performed “Mo Ghile Mear” or “My Gallant Hero” on the uilleann pipes for the Sept. 18 installment. The uilleann pipes are a bagpipe design unique to Ireland. Van Fleet explained that his interest in Irish-traditional music dates back to before his library career of 30 years at the University.

Students enjoy not only sharing their artistic passions and talents, but also seeing other members of the community perform for the Weis Center Sessions. “Sharing art is always important, because it’s a chance for people to be exposed to something new, or to be inspired by something they see. Sharing what you’re passionate about with other people is really gratifying as well. Since we can’t gather in person, sending out video performances is a great solution. We can perform in a safe way, and the frequency with which those videos come out means there’s something to look forward to each week,” Evans said.

Maguet is excited about the opportunities for sharing performances within the community that the Weis Center Sessions provide. “We’re thrilled with the wide range of artistry that’s being shared- everything from Balinese dance, classical piano to Uilleann pipes,” Maguet said.

Students are also elated by the new performance opportunities at the Weis Center. “I had a really positive experience working with the Weis Center. I have really loved being involved with music here at Bucknell. Everyone is very helpful, and I love the community built at Weis with not just music, but the arts in general,” Hill said. 

Maguet encourages students and faculty to schedule a recording as the series continues through the 2020-21 academic year. 

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