Xfest begins next week and will showcase six SIUE students during the Saturday, September 13 performance of "Power Goes." Sterling Allen, Brianna Biffingnani, Ryne Eversman, Kristina Ware, Kari Wattles and Nick Zobrist will joining the National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project, co-commissioned by Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and SIUE Xfest.
"The Seldoms, a Chicago-based dance company, came to Chuck Harper, the artistic director of the festival, and Kristin Best-Kinscherff, head of the dance area, about the possibility of our students participating in this premiere piece," said Peter Cocuzza, professor of theater and dance. "The experience of working with professional dancers is invaluable for our budding artists, and the contacts students make through this dance company may lead to future opportunities."
Harper and Cocuzza have been great proponents of including student work and participation in Xfest since its inception in 2010. "One of the things we value as teachers is to help students discover their personal creative artist and encourage ways for that to blossom," said Cocuzza. "Two wonderful ways for that to happen is their participation in Xfest and working with professional performers from around the nation.
Cocuzza hopes to include students in future festivals, while continuing to build on the idea of a festival environment that includes performances, workshops and master classes. "I think we've only begun to see the outreach possibilities of this, as well as the on-campus crossovers to other departments," said Cocuzza. "Needless to say, we are thrilled to see our students engaged."
The Seldoms value making intelligent, visually rich dance theater that is driven by inquiry. Under the direction of choreographer, Carrie Hanson, the center of The Seldoms’ work is dance, however, the vision extends to the whole of action and environment on stage.
Find out more about The Seldoms.
Xfest is back! And for the first time, the festival will be held in the fall, versus early summer.
We asked Xfest Artistic Director Chuck Harper to talk about why the festival is moving to the fall semester.
Xfest began as a project that would bring life and activity to the SIUE campus during the summer. Peter’s (Xfest Executive Producer Peter Cocuzza) idea was to bring a summer festival to campus that would energize the theater department and the campus, and also provides a regional and national profile for theatre and dance at SIUE.
Much of this was accomplished. We have brought in theatre artists from around the country (NYC, LA, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, etc.). These artists have given us extremely positive feedback on the festival and have spread the word back into their local communities about Xfest. We have built a particularly strong tie to Chicago, due to the proximity. This has led to the co-commissioning of the THE SELDOMS premiere at this year’s festival via a National Performance Network Creation Fund Grant.
Everything has gone as we had hoped, except for one big thing. There are not enough theater and dance students on campus in early June to be able to take advantage of the Xfest experience. At the 2012 festival, Peter and I came to a sad realization. Xfest may very well be the single most dynamic exciting and thought-provoking event that the department stages each year, and a very small percentage of our students are able to be a part of the festival, either as audience or workshop participants.
This led to the inevitable conclusion: We needed to move Xfest into the school year so that we can have 100 percent participation of our students. This move provides a wide range of workshops, seminars and master classes for departmental and University students, and will bring a broader and larger University audience to the festival.
The move to fall should not dramatically impact our community audience, although tickets may be a bit harder to secure. This remains to be seen. But, the benefit to the students and the University will be dramatic. This is our hope.
The SIUE Department of Theater and Dance is proud to announce the fifth annual Xfest, a celebration of experimental theater. This year's festival is moving to the fall and will feature workshops and an array of performances.