No Tickets Needed: A Free Dose of Culture


Nix pix.


Ann Arbor is a city that has plenty to offer, but sometimes the cultural highlights may be a *little* beyond the budget for those of us who may not have the most regular of paychecks. So for those of you who are looking for an arts experience while still saving $$$, look no further! This piece of blog is here to share the local arts events you can attend FOR FREE! 
The University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater, and Dance is a great source of low-or-no-cost access to displays of incredible talent. The UM-SMTD events calendar, lists concerts, lectures, and master classes taught by visiting instructors or guest faculty. This calendar has a $ symbol on events that have a cost, but thankfully those symbols are few and far between.

Earlier this month, I participated in an open-to-anyone master class led by a guest instructor in the dance program. I arrived and grabbed a seat, which turned out to be right beside the guest speaker, Anita Gonzalez. This was less awkward than it might have been because she was soon on the floor, warming up with the rest of the dancers. Gonzalez called the class to attention as the dancers stretched and flexed and effortlessly made shapes with their bodies. As she led activities, she explained the connection between breath, voice, and movement. Eventually, the dancers created moving historical vignettes of African American slaves working in the fields, with lumber, or on the railroads – singing the songs that kept them from despair and connecting them through their common goal of freedom. It was amazing to watch.

But wait, there’s more! The art of the written word is celebrated almost every day of the week at Literati Bookstore on Washington St! Just a few weeks ago I attended a (free!) reading at Literati of the new fiction bestseller The Nix by author Nathan Hill.

The Nix is Hill's first book that the Literati emcee described as “deceptively simple” but with the excitement of a “choose your own adventure story.” The major selling point for me was the claim that it was “a big book that reads fast.” Once Hill took the podium in that second floor Espresso Bar space, he explained The Nix was 10 years in the making, and once he started reading from the work, I had to agree that it was 10 years well spent. The reading he selected was from a chapter in which a student in the protagonist's logic class manages to include all 16 types of fallacy as they argue for a better grade.

The chapter is hilarious; my cheeks hurt by the end of the night from constantly smiling. Hill’s main character comes across as well-educated and flawed in relatable ways that make you want to keep reading. In this chapter, Hill also features a run-on sentence of epic proportions which required him to fortify himself with a drink water before reading it. It was truly a delight to hear this new author read, and I encourage readers to get their hands on a copy if only to discover why the words “aluminum” and “nuther” are so laughable.

Literati has tons of events, so check their calendar often to stay up to date. It is usually only their "ticketed events” that have an associated cost - most Literati events don’t cost a dime!

Liz Grapentine is a desk clerk at AADL. A graduate from Oakland University with a major in Music Education and a minor in English, Liz enjoys all the arts in every form. Liz is also a true Ann Arbor townie and a proud patron of the library since 1995.