On March 16 and 17, the Purchase College School of the Arts presents a downtown arts festival featuring a rich variety of accomplished music from rock ‘n’ roll, to the blues and hip-hop by Purchase student and alumni artists who already have produced gold records, Hollywood scores, international tours, and received national acclaim. Billed as a Downtown Cabaret, the festival will also include dance performances, costumed floor performers, and an array of visual art exhibitions, all by young professional musicians, dancers and artists associated with Purchase College. The festival will be held at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center in New York City. Admission is free to students, and by donation for all others.
The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center is located at 107 Suffolk Street, between Rivington and Delancey. For more information, call 914-251-3980.
The Cabaret opens at 6 PM both nights for a visual arts reception and the opportunity to view the multiple exhibitions throughout the gallery space. There will be over 40 music and dance performances divided between two venues. Concerts in the smaller Milagro Theater begin at 7 PM. Dance will be presented from 9- 9:40 PM in the large Flamboyan Theater, followed by live music, which will run until 1 AM. The performance space, located in a club-like venue, is open on three sides, providing an exciting “up-close” dance experience for the audience.
The dance component of the cabaret, supported by the Conservatory of Dance and subtitled, “On the DownTown Side,” encourages artistic and choreographic experimentation. Each choreographer has been working with a composer and sometimes with a visual artist as well, to promote collaboration amongst the Purchase College Conservatories. The program features work by eight exciting choreographers, ranging from mature, established professionals to up and coming young artists, recent graduates and even current students. Each evening will feature a completely different program, encompassing nine separate dance events, all set to live music. There will also be a performance installation piece, created by Dance and Visual Arts, at 6pm.
The Downtown Cabaret has been organized by Professor James McElwaine of the Purchase College Conservatory of Music. It was inspired by several University summer tours conducted by Professor McElwaine with some of these same artists, performing and exhibiting in the cafés and nightclubs of Burgos, Spain, as well as in the city’s historic medieval Monasterio de San Juan.
Luis R. Cancel, former Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City and now executive director of the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center states, “It is very exciting to see such fusion of the arts. Our artistic collaboration with Purchase College is good evidence of the cultural vitality of lower Manhattan, all of New York City and the State University.”
Co-producer and Purchase Music Professor Joel Thome said, “This is a perfect union of creative consciousness and energy. Purchase College is a major incubator of the arts internationally and the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center is a major incubator of the arts in New York City.”
Stephanie Tooman, a professor at the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance and an active New York choreographer said, “I selected this particular constellation of choreographers because I thought each of them would have a strong concept that would suit this event. They all work with unusual ideas, have solid understanding of movement, space, time and rhythm, and have an experimental bent to them. My hope was that this event would challenge the ‘uptown’ conception of dance that we generally adhere to in the Conservatory, giving these young artists the opportunity to move beyond academic composition and be creative with their own ideas. The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center is an important downtown venue in New York City, and I believe that the combination of a strong conservatory background, an emphasis on inter-disciplinary collaboration, and the freedom for the artists to really run with their ideas will yield a truly unique and exciting festival.”
Professor George Parrino, former Dean of the Purchase College School of Art+Design, who is curating the visual aspects of the Cabaret, adds, “These are some amazingly talented young visual artists in realistic and abstract painting styles, as well as sculpture, collage, assemblage, photography, video and performance art. The exhibition will be a real eye-opener for the public.”
The Clemente Soto Vélez Center is a Latino cultural center which is named after the celebrated Puerto Rican poet, journalist and activist who mentored many generations of Latino artists in New York City until his death in 1993.