Category Archives: The Arts at Penn

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again?

By: Carolyn Grace, C’16

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I’m finally back on the blog, Quakers!  And boy, does it feel good.

For those of you who don’t remember, I spent last semester studying abroad in Paris through Reid Hall, a joint program between Columbia and Penn.  I took classes in History, Cinema Studies, and French (le duh) at both this international school and at the Sorbonne.  But like all study abroad programs, my adventure in Paris was not only comprised of studying!

Living with a host family, getting lost in art museums, sipping cappuccinos in cafés, catching the last metro home after a long night out, sprawling out on the grass in a luscious garden, exploring boutiques on streets big and small, this was over half of my education abroad.  And these are just a handful of the activities I did in Paris alone!

If you’re interested in knowing more about my adventures, check out the blog I kept last semester: For the Love of Paris.  You’ll find photos, videos, songs, and most importantly musings of my time in Europe.

But that semester has come and gone, and I admit that for all the fun I had overseas, I am incredibly happy to be back on Penn’s campus.  I missed my friends, my classes, and my activities.  I missed being a part of a thriving campus culture that, although stressful at times, encouraged me to be proactive.

So I’m back in the swing of things, but with a bit more gusto than last year!  I’m singing with Counterparts and sitting on the board as Alumni Relations Officer, I’m helping run Sigma Kappa as Vice President, I’m writing for 34th Street and Penn Appétit, and I’m beginning to conduct research for my Senior Honors Thesis for my History major.

Don’t worry, there will be future blog posts where I’ll delve deeper into these topics!  Just know for now that I’ve hit the ground running this second semester of my junior year, and I’m glad to have that academic cardio in my life again.

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I’ll Be Seeing You

Author: Carolyn Grace, C’16

Hit play and start reading!

It’s been a week of “lasts” here at dear old Penn – yesterday was my last chapter meeting with Sigma Kappa, today was my last day of classes, and Friday will be my last rehearsal with Counterparts.  Normally, I’d be excited for the closing of yet another school year.  Summer’s just around the corner, and I’ll get to spend it with so many of my friends who are choosing to stay in Philly!  But for one reason or another, I don’t feel that excited.  At least not right now.

Maybe it’s the rain (sorry, I mean MONSOON) outside.  Maybe it’s the looming papers and final exams that I have in the next couple weeks.  Or maybe it’s the realization that I’ll be boarding a plane next semester instead of driving 45 minutes to move back on campus.  Whatever it is, I’m sad to be nearing the end of my sophomore year.  It was hard getting back into the swing of things when I returned to campus this past August, and it by no means got any easier.  But in spite of all that, I can say with confidence that it was better than my freshman year.  I was presented with new and exciting opportunities, and more importantly I met new and exciting people, people who I am honored to call close friends.

I found this picture in my room earlier this afternoon:

It’s the first picture of me from this academic year, the first day of NSO to be exact.  I definitely had no idea what the year was going to be like, but that didn’t stop me from goofing off with my friends!  That seems to be the best way for me to combat the anxiety of not knowing, acting silly.  Hopefully, I can keep a similar lightheartedness as I enter my semester abroad next year.

I wonder what my last picture from sophomore year will look like.  I guess I don’t really need to know right now.  There’s fun in not knowing.

Until next year, dear Quakers.  I’ll be seeing you.  Thanks for reading :)

 

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Do You Want to See My Show, Man?

Author: Carolyn Grace, C’16

Tapping into my inner Pitbull while rapping  "Timber" with the Mask and Wig band!

Tapping into my inner Pitbull while rapping “Timber” with the Mask and Wig band!

Well, Fling has finally been flung, dear Quakers, and oh what a wonderful weekend it was! As planned, I danced to David Guetta, sang/rapped on stage with both Counterparts and Mask and Wig, and ate my weight in fried oreos. All in all, a successful few days :)

But my performances are not over!  Oh no, my biggest show of the semester is coming up this weekend: the Counterparts Spring show!  If you’ve clicked on the link, then you’ve just discovered that our show title “Do You Wanna Build a Show, Man?” is, in fact, “Frozen”-themed.  Because “Frozen” will always be relevant.  Always.

I have to say, the publicity we’ve done for this show is pretty awesome.  We have a great series of posters (see below), and we just released a promotional YouTube video as well.  However, if you haven’t seen “Frozen”… well I don’t know what to tell you.  None of these references will make sense.  So I suggest you watch the movie before coming to the show.

Our poster for "Do You Wanna Build a Show, Man?"

Our poster for “Do You Wanna Build a Show, Man?”

My Facebook profile picture to promote the show!  I know, it's pretty adorable.

My Facebook profile picture to promote the show! I know, it’s pretty adorable.

We’re back in Iron Gate Theatre, where I sang in my first-ever CP concert.  It’s a beautiful space, and I can’t wait to see it packed with my friends, family, and Counterparts alumni!  Our set list is also stellar.  I’ll be singing “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” with one of our new members, Andrew.  In addition, we have songs by the Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Sara Bareilles, Ariana Grande, Hall and Oates, and Delta Rae…just to name several.

Like the many other student artists on campus, I am always in a bit of shock when I enter the week leading up to my show.  It’s crazy to think about how much work I’ve put into the semester for Counterparts, and it’s going to be culminating into only two performances this weekend!  It’s times like these that I try to truly appreciate the level of talent and dedication to the arts that exists here at Penn.  Though I cannot go to every show that happens on campus, I will always applaud the effort that goes into any and every performance.

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Flung, Wild, and Free

Author:  Carolyn Grace, C’16

Spring has finally sprung on campus, dear Quakers, and just in time for Penn’s greatest weekend ever: it’s time for FLIIIIING!

Goofing around in the Fling photo booth :)

Fling 2013: goofing around in the photo booth :)

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or you just happen to be reading this blog post and you don’t go to Penn, Spring Fling is the biggest (and best!) college festival on the East Cost, in existence for now over 40 years.   The festival actually has a pretty rich history and is certainly one of Penn’s biggest traditions.  Without a doubt, it’s the favorite tradition among students!

The theme for this year’s Fling is the oh-so groovy  ❀☮ PEACE LOVE AND FLING ❀☮  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t super excited.  SPEC has a great line-up for the big concert on Friday: Magic Man, Ra Ra Riot, and headliner David Guetta!  I wasn’t familiar with the first two artists when SPEC first announced them, but after to listening to them on Spotify I am so stoked to see them perform live.  Here are a couple favorites of mine from Magic Man and Ra Ra Riot, both of which I hope are played at the concert!

“Paris” by Magic Man

“Beta Love” by Ra Ra Riot

Lilly and I before CP takes the stage!

Lilly and I before CP takes the stage!

As great as the big concert is going to be, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to the Quad concerts the most!  It’s the chance to see my friends in other performing arts groups rock the stage in front of the entire student body.  I’m especially excited to watch Bloomers Band, Penn Glee Club Band, and Penny Loafers a cappella (good luck guys!).  Counterparts will also be singing in prep for our Spring show…but that’s for another blog post ;)

The final performance, however, is going to bring the walls of the Quad down.  Some lovely ladies of Counterparts (Sam, Swaroop, Lilly) and I will each be singing with the Mask and Wig band!  Their performance is the final one of the entire Fling weekend, and it always draws a huge crowd.  I can’t wait to be up on stage with them, mostly because my performance is going to be something I’ve never done before.  I’ll be singing the song Timber by Ke$ha and Pitbull.  Well, actually, I’ll be rapping it.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I’m going to be rapping Pitbull’s part of Timber.  And I literally cannot wait.

A crowd shot from the Mask and Wig stage.  I'll be up there in almost a week!

A crowd shot from the Mask and Wig stage. I’ll be up there in almost a week!

So grab your fanny packs, don your neon tanks, and make room for the fried oreoes, dear Quakers.  The countdown to Spring Fling begins NOW!

 

 

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Road to ICCAs

Author:  Carolyn Grace, C’16

CP in the DP!

CP in the DP!

Finally, I can say that I’ve made it above the fold!  In case you missed yesterday’s copy of the DP, Counterparts made the front page for our stellar performance at ICCAs this past weekend at Drexel.  Of the 50 groups competing in the Mid-Atlantic Division, we are one of 10 that will move on to semifinals.  They will take place at Rutgers later this March, which gives me more than enough time to watch “Pitch Perfect.” :)

Aw, thanks John!

Aw, thanks John!

We performed three songs from our Fall show – “Big White Room,” “Lady is a Tramp,” and “Creep.”  Lilly, a fellow CP sophomore with me, added in simple yet effective choreography for each song as well.  Overall, it took us a little over a week to fully prepare and refine our set list.  Nina, our Music Director, Swaroop, our President, and Lilly did an incredible job with getting us to performance level!  It’s no wonder that, in addition to advancing to semifinals, we won both Best Choreography and Best Soloist Performance.  If only John Legend could see us now…

I am so proud of CP.  This is the first time I have ever “competed” in something relating to music, and I won’t deny that it does feel different.  I admit that I find much more satisfaction in performing for people I know.  However, to have external recognition of what I myself have known along – that Counterparts is an extremely talented group – is certainly gratifying.  We’re a musical force to be reckoned with, and I know we will show that in the next round.  The road to ICCAs has just begun!

Nina, Swaroop, and Lilly holding our awards for Semifinalists, Best Soloist, and Best Choreography

Nina, Swaroop, and Lilly holding our awards for Semifinalists, Best Soloist, and Best Choreography

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We’ll never forget art

Author: Carlos Dos Santos, C’17

There was smoke coming out of their mouths. Sometimes it was subtler, like heat waves. It hurt, penetrated through us, watching, and burned us. Then came the second stanza, the smoke changed in texture and shape as it drifted across to the crowd, through the blue and red glowing lights. I felt at once as if it were burdening me, pressing me to the ground–the unbearable bittersweet weight of a passionate literary form being performed to perfection, holding us steadfast. We marveled at the power they held over us: we cheered and cried and praised at their whims. I am an atheist. But in that moment I felt as I had always imagined a Baptist feels as the spirit of his beloved Christ washed over him and keeps him whole, and fighting on, for just another day. It was powerful, intense, comical, horrifying, depressing, and hopeful all at once. This is spoken word.

I love literature. And these people, these strangers, took every novel and poem I’d ever read and burned them in my face, released the thousands of pages over which I’ve pored over in the last ten years and released them to the wind, and that’s when I saw something I had missed before, something light-hearted and pure. It was truth–a truth that could only be perceived by mouth, not by sight. I learned, then, that literature doesn’t have to be heavy. It can be light—it can flutter. It can burn, not with a flame that kills, but one that enlivens and brightens every fiber and element of our world.

It is art in its purest form, and I never would have experienced it had it not been for the people I’ve come to know at Penn. More specifically, the Arts House Residential Program at Penn. It’s a collective group of students living in Harnwell College House that are in this program simply because they all love art, and express their love of art in different ways. I think it’s an element of Penn for which I’ll always be grateful. Penn students know how to have fun, and how to misbehave. But when it comes down to it, we never forget the important things in life. We’ll never forget art. Instead, we’ve come to Penn with our own preconceived notions of what art means to us, and from that point we continue to grow. We learn from what others have to say and never forget those words, just as I’ll never forget the words spoken by those master poets (of which, coincidentally, three are Penn alumni). The best part of it all is that we Quakers know how to have fun in style—whoever thinks that a last-minute trip to the Big Apple, to watch a spoken word performance and to then catch a red-eye bus trip back to campus, isn’t fun, doesn’t know what fun is.

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From Teen to Twenty Something

Author:  Carolyn Grace, C’16

WELCOME BACK, MY DARLING PENN QUAKERS!

Yes, second semester is finally upon us, and I am still on my winter break sleep schedule.  But I’ve missed dear old Penn, and I am thrilled to be back in the bustling atmosphere of classes, activities, and friends.  More importantly, I can now satisfy my strange craving for Houston Hall’s sushi.

Things certainly are busy for only the second day of school.  Rush has officially begun for Sigma Kappa as well as the other Panhellenic sororities.  I’m already exhausted from yesterday’s Open House, but I am even more excited to get a brand new pledge class in SK!

Counterparts is already in the midst of selecting our Spring semester repertoire, and we will soon begin rehearsals for our February performance in the ICCAs!  For those of you who have seen Pitch Perfect (unlike me!), you understand that this is a pretty cool event.  I don’t know much about it, but I’m always ready to be back on stage singing with CP.  More details to come!

The ICCA performance in Pitch Perfect.  AKA my study guide!

The ICCA performance in Pitch Perfect. AKA my study guide!

For today, however, what I’m most excited for has nothing to do with sorority life or a cappella.  Today’s post, in addition to being my first one of the new semester, is the last post I will be writing as a teenager.  At exactly 12:17 AM tomorrow morning, I will be 20 years old!  I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m about to become a “twenty something.”  I’ve seen the numerous BuzzFeed posts about this particular age group, all of them hilarious albeit slightly concerning.  Technically, I am a young adult.  So, how much of my life actually needs to be put together?  Quite frankly, I’ve always felt the label “teenager” was like a “get out of jail free” card for behavior.  Neurotic, eccentric, angsty, or overly emotional?  Hey, blame it on puberty and hormones!  I’m hoping I still have some of that leeway when I turn 20.

So, you can bet that I’ll be celebrating tomorrow, and you should too!  Well, maybe not celebrating my birthday specifically (though I’d certainly appreciate it :) ), but rather celebrating a new year, new semester, and the new opportunities that come with it all.  Good luck this Spring, Quakers!

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