Musical Maestro: Shafaat Khan at The Ark


Shafaat Khan at The Ark

Shafaat Khan.

Sitar and tabla player Shafaat “Maestro” Khan demonstrated the aptness of his title at The Ark on Tuesday, Oct. 3. Khan’s command of his instruments evoked select meditative, spiritual, and romantic moods and the evening passed as more of a conversation than a one-sided performance.

To call Indian classical music a tradition in Khan’s family would be an understatement. Indian classical music is an institution in the Khan family. Shafaat Khan is the nephew of legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan and son of Inayat Khan. His brother is Shujaat Khan, another eminent sitarist whom I had the privilege of attending his performance in Kolkata, India in 2009.

As a student of sitar, I have an appreciation for the advanced skill these teachers bring to the instrument. But it was clear that by the sheer talent Shafaat Khan brought to the stage, anyone and everyone could appreciate his music and skills.

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Visceral Violence: "Sweeney Todd" is Encore Theatre's finest production yet


Sweeney Todd at The Encore Musical Theatre Company by Michele Anliker Photography

Director/choreographer Matthew Brennan brings a distinctive vision to Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at The Encore Musical Theatre Company. Photo by Michele Anliker Photography.

In 2015, I pronounced Into the Woods to be Encore Theatre’s strongest overall production since the Dexter company opened its doors in 2009.

Well, move over, Into the Woods. There’s a new Sondheim show in town, and when it opened on Friday night, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street quickly established itself as the best thing yet to happen on Encore’s modest, black-box stage.

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Fashion, Forward: "Looking Back: 20th Century Dress From the Historic Costume Collection"


Looking Back: 20th Century Dress From the Historic Costume Collection

Looking Back curator Jessica Hahn says fashion "is often a catalyst for the economy and the political situation of the times."

The idea that fashion is cyclical, and that “certain silhouettes repeat themselves with minor changes,” is not a new one. It is, however, an interesting starting point for thinking about articles of clothing throughout 20th century in America.

The exhibit Looking Back: 20th Century Dress From the Historic Costume Collection, curated by Jessica Hahn, can be seen at the Duderstadt Center at University of Michigan through October 6. The show displays a full range of garments from 1900 to 1999. The show posits that despite the use and re-use of certain styles and silhouettes throughout time, the textiles used and their production styles, as well as attitudes toward dress itself, changed drastically. The 20th century was an era in which fashion changed at a faster rate than ever before. There were a number of factors that contributed to this shift that are explored through the inclusion of objects and wall text.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #654



Librarian Extraordinaire and NPR books commentator Nancy Pearl's debut novel George & Lizzie *, is a loving tribute to Ann Arbor and her Alma mater (UM, AMLS, 1967).

In this "astute, nimble, funny, and affecting love story" (Booklist), a stoned Lizzie sabotaged George's near-perfect game and a dream date at the Bowlarama when they met. Weeks later, they shared a tuna fish sandwich at Drake's on their first date. Almost against all odds, they married despite radically different upbringing and understandings of what love and marriage should be.

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Discrete Ambiance: “Swarm Study/II” at UMMA


Swarm Study/II

Random International's Swarm Study/II, on loan from by the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art.

It’s not unfair to say Swarm Study/II is a visual art experience that will long stay with you. But such an accolade is also far too passive. If given the chance, Swarm Study/II will not only stay with you -- it will literally follow you.

This 2011 site-specific installation on display in the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s Irving Stenn Jr. Family Project Gallery, mounted through the courtesy of the Maxine and Stewart Frankel Foundation for Art, is held in conjunction with the museum’s Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors -- Part II: Abstraction exhibition.

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Character Study: Celeste Ng at Literati


Celeste Ng

U-M Helen Zell Writers' Program grad Celeste Ng returned to Ann Arbor for her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere.

In Shaker Heights, Ohio, if your lawn reaches a certain height, the city will mow it -- then send you a bill. Your house cannot be the same as any others on your street, but the paint color has to be approved so that it doesn’t clash. Your trash is not placed on the curb for pickup; instead, a small vehicle similar to a golf cart will speed down your driveway, collect your cans, and bring them to the garbage truck on the street. These are some of the quirks Celeste Ng shared at Literati on Friday about her hometown, which is the setting for her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere.

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Sibling Sounds: Wild Belle at the Blind Pig


Last night was not Wild Belle’s first time playing at the Blind Pig. In fact, the group played one of its first ever shows there years ago, opening for the Afro-beat dance band Nomo in what was something like a family reunion. Elliott Bergman (saxophones, keyboards) is in both bands -- he founded Nomo while at the University of Michigan -- as are Erik Hall (guitar) and Quin Kirchner (drums), and Bergman's younger sister, Natalie (vocals, guitar), started guesting with Nomo when she was just 16. (Bassist Kellen Harrison is the only non-Nomo-affiliated member of Wild Belle.)

With a reserved “Hello, Ann Arbor” from Natalie, the band took the stage and launched into the first three tracks from 2016's Dreamland: “Mississippi River,” “Losing You,” and the title track. Natalie often seemed lost in her own world as she sang, but she was also a gripping stage presence, dressed in a loose white blouse and velvet pants emblazoned with white snakeskin stars.

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The photography exhibit "In Transit" travels all around Ann Arbor


In Transit at Ann Arbor Art Center

In Transit winners, clockwise from left: Jeannette Woltmann, Advice; Robert Conradi, WCC Metal Fabrication Department; Misty Lyn Bergeron, Flower of Life.

With over 70 photographs on view in locations throughout Ann Arbor, In Transit is a lively, four-headed monster of an exhibition. From the back hall of the City Council Chambers to The Session Room on Jackson Avenue, to the buses (inside and outside) of TheRide, this collection of photos by current and former photography students at Washtenaw County Community College will be all over town for the next three months.

But the best place to see all these photographs celebrating the local places and people of southeastern Michigan is right now through September 30 in Gallery 117 of the Ann Arbor Art Center.

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Personal Universals: jessica Care moore at the Michigan Theater


jessica Care moore

jessica Care moore's spirit and charisma cast a wide next.

I didn’t grow up going to church, but seeing the poet-playwright-author-musician-activist-performance artist jessica Care moore do her thing is what I imagine an incredibly moving church experience feels like.

moore’s appearance at the Michigan Theater on September 14 was the kickoff event of the 2017 Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series. The series aims to bring innovators from a wide variety of fields to the university in order to interact with and inspire university students, faculty, and the greater community. (See the full fall 2017 lineup here.)

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After cancelled flights, Darlingside hit the road to sing harmonies for The Ark


Darlingside

Real-close harmonies. Photo of Darlingside at The Ark by Andy Rogers.

In order to play at The Ark’s nearly sold-out fall fundraiser on Sunday night, Darlingside had to skedaddle out of Kansas City after a show on Saturday night. The Boston-based quartet packed into a minivan with its sound engineer and drove through much of the night.

This hadn’t been the original plan, but the sudden appearance of a 200-mile-wide storm system meant that Darlingside's flights, scheduled several months earlier, weren’t going to happen. “So we arrived in Ann Arbor this morning, badly in need of a shower,” confessed cellist/guitarist Harris Paseltiner.

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