Cambridge is starting the year in arts with a big bang! Most events here are provided free with bar and snacks for purchase.
Back by popular demand, Open Mic night at Dorchester Center for the Arts (DCA) runs every Tuesday night through the end of April. While weather has prevented the past two Tuesdays, there are 15 more on the schedule, giving talent and audience alike much to look forward to. Each Tuesday, a different host stagehands the gathering, making sure all those interested in playing get on the list and get to play. Music isn’t the only thing welcome at Open Mic night. Storytellers and poets, and actors and writers are welcome too.
For any not acquainted with Open Mics, it simply means that anyone who wants to perform and can keep their performance within allotted time frames (which can change depending on how many sign ups there are) are welcome on the stage. Generally (and at DCA), it is first-come first-serve on the sign-in sheet. The DCA audience has proven itself appreciative and attentive and willing to stay until the last performer is done.
Also at DCA, a brand new “Open” concept previewed to enthusiastic attendance and audience participation on Thursday, January 18. Happening weekly, Thursdays, Open Dance was created and is being shepherded by Cambridge Kitchen Designer and lover of all things dance, Binny Olsen. Binny has modeled Open Dance on Open Mic. Because she couldn’t find a place where dance was center stage in Cambridge, she approached DCA about allowing her to put this program together.
Betsey Harrington, Board President and Treasurer at DCA, says that, for DCA, Open Dance, like Open Mic, is a great way to “get the community to come together in a fun activity and to see the Art Center. Binny gets all the credit for putting together the format, instruction and music.”
Binny, for her part says, “This is purely selfish. It wasn’t here. I need it, so I’m creating it.” (Which begs the question: what do you need that you haven’t found and might create?)
For the first Open Dance on January 17th, Morgan Hunsicker performed host duties, opening with a self-choreographed dance.
When asked what made her want to participate in this brand new concept, Hunsacker said, “I love dancing and I want to share that love with people who want to move.”
Hunsacker recently graduated from The Joffrey Ballet Schools Jazz and Contemporary program. While at Joffrey, she also completed several semesters of her Dance BFA degree at New Jersey City University. Hunsacker is professionally trained in many genres of dance such as ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, musical theatre, Latin jazz, street jazz, partnering, and modern. She has assisted with Joffrey rehearsals, has taught at Eastern Shore Dance Academy, and is currently in rehearsals for Les Fêtes de Thalie with Opera Lafayette which will premiere May 3rd-4th at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
When invited to “come on up and dance,” the audience was not shy. The spacious “stage” set up in the upper room of DCA is a generous dance floor for learning, and the stage set lighting (no bright overheads, and colorful changing lights aimed at the floor) created a safe and fun environment to learn and laugh together as we (yes, even I got up) did our best to follow Hunsacker. Her teaching skills shined in her ability to break down her dance into learnable segments. She was in no hurry and answered questions and requests for more repetition. In addition to her own choreography, we were introduced to the Jerusulema, a dance based on a song by South African DJ and record producer, Master KG featuring South African vocalist Nomcebo with lyrics sung in Zulu.
As with Open Mic, in Open Dance other dancers/teachers are invited to share their pieces. Those in attendance were thus delighted with a performance by Joyce Ritz, a line-dance teacher who holds regular line-dance get togethers at the local Elks Lodge Wednesdays, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m as well as at the YMCA in Cambridge . Ritz brought many of her regulars with her, and when it came time for audience participation, there were many dancers there to help those who were new to line dancing.
Hunsacker will be back to host the January 25th Open Dance, so if you missed last week, you have a second chance to see what all the energy and excitement around this newly created event is about, and to learn from her.
Paul Ellwood, a regular at just about every event at DCA says, “I enjoy dancing with such a bunch of beautiful and talented people so much that I can’t wait until next Thursday to kick off my shoes and join in again!”
Julian Jackson, staff at WHCP, the local NPR radio affiliate, provided dj services.
But, wait! There’s more! Wednesday, January 24th at 1 p.m. at DCA, Ed Krell, of Chalk Festival fame ((and recently also oil painting), along with his chalker-and-art colleague, Collin Cessna, will host Art Project #1, with music to work by provided by Marianne Syles and Jon Jacobs. Attendees will be encouraged to, as the Facebook event page says, “pick up a canvas and join in.” In addition to DCA, this event is sponsored by Old Salty’s Restaurant, Hoopers Island General Store, Marianne Styles Music, and Riverside Lodge (Hooper’s Island).
Finally, Sol Roots performs at DCA on January 27th. Tickets for this performance are still available, and proceeds go to support The Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Cambridge.
All of this in just one week.
Cambridge: the Arts are definitely alive!
Tammy Vitale. an artist herself, has fallen in love with all the facets of art available in Cambridge/Dorchester County, and wants the rest of the world to know and love the arts and artists of this area as much as she does. Cambridge artists (broadly defined) are invited to contact her [email protected], subject line “Arts.” See The Arts are Alive in Cambridge, MD, Facebook page for daily updates.