Black Cultural Center arts ensembles to study New Orleans
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Members of the Performing Arts Ensembles from Purdue University's Black Cultural Center will travel to New Orleans as part of a field research tour with a focus on African-American arts and culture in the city.
The tour is in keeping with the center's theme for the semester "What the Waters Washed Away: The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Retention of African-American Art and Culture."
(Media-Newswire.com) - WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Members of the Performing Arts Ensembles from Purdue University's Black Cultural Center will travel to New Orleans as part of a field research tour with a focus on African-American arts and culture in the city. The tour is in keeping with the center's theme for the semester "What the Waters Washed Away: The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Retention of African-American Art and Culture." For the past six years, the center's performing arts ensembles have engaged in an artistic field research experience during fall break at a site pertinent to the semester's topic.
"New Orleans is one of the few cities in the country that defines a part of African-American culture," said the center's director Renee Thomas. "Students will explore the city's cultural attractions, including several historical museums and contemporary art galleries. They will tour neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent floods. Participants will enjoy jazz music demonstrations, spoken word, dance and drama performances by local artists."
The influence of African-American arts and culture, particularly in blending with the predominate French culture, is unique in New Orleans, from the city's own version of jazz, gospel, zydeco and other forms of music, crafts, oral narratives and food to the Mardi Gras Indians.
"New Orleans holds a significant place in American history," said Bill Caise, assistant director of the Black Cultural Center. "It was the addition of the Louisiana Purchase, which included the already established city of New Orleans, that helped create the conditions that propelled America toward the status of world power, and it was the African and West Indian inspired arts of this mecca that has helped define much of what we know as American art."
The tour is open only to current student members of the center's performing arts ensembles. Participants will visit historical landmarks and museums, collect oral histories and personal narratives from residents of New Orleans, engage in scholarly discussions with experts, and master class instruction with local arts organizations.
"Our goal is to immerse the students in the history and contributions of New Orleans as well as the conditions after Katrina and the effect they have had on the artistic community and spirit of New Orleans, with the ultimate goal being to create an 'artistic response' which will be shared with the Purdue and larger community," Caise said.
The students will dramatize what they learned during the trip at the Black Cultural Center's Cultural Arts Festival. The showcase will be performed at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. Call ( 765 ) 494-3092 for ticket information.
The center's performing arts ensembles are the Black Voices of Inspiration, a choir that specializes in gospel music, spirituals and contemporary songs by African-American composers; Haraka Writers, a group of student poets, essayists and short-story writers; Jahari Dance Troupe, which performs a repertoire including African, ballet, folk, jazz, tap and modern dance; and New Directional Players, a theater group with a focus on presenting drama about the African-American experience.
To contact the Black Cultural Center, call ( 765 ) 494-3092.
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