Dear Class of 2012:

Welcome to Wes. Surely you are all eagerly anticipating the top-flight education you are about to receive from this fine institution of higher learning. But we here at The Argus want to make sure you are also aware of the sheer awesomeness of the arts you are going to see, hear and hopefully participate in on campus. To that end, here are just some of the arts highlights of the 2007-2008 academic year:

September kicked off with a one-month residency by world-renowned choreographer Ronald K. Brown, which culminated with the world premiere of his latest work, “One Shot.” Days later, experimental theater troupe The Civilians conducted a workshop for drama students before giving their own performance. Meanwhile, the Davison Art Center held an exhibition by Japanese print artist Kenji Shinohara, and the Zilkha Gallery hosted a collection of provocative audiovisual installations and films by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar. One of the highlights of the film series was the screening of the classic Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense,” which quickly evolved into a dance party in the Goldsmith Family Cinema.

In October we were treated to appearances by two of our favorite alumni. Michael Bay ’87 returned to Middletown to screen his personal print of his magnum opus “Transformers,” which was followed by a lively question and answer session. Author Daniel Handler ’92 (known to most as Lemony Snicket) also delivered a reading and spoke to students about his work. Additionally, the University celebrated the Hindu Navaratri Festival with a weeklong showcase of Indian music and dance. The month closed with two great shows: one by RJD2 and a stripped-down set by Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman.

November featured talks by Art Spiegelman, the cartoonist behind the seminal graphic novel “Maus,” and Robin Williams just a few days later. The faculty-directed production of “Oedipus Rex” was eerily brilliant. The politically-minded were treated to a screening of the documentary “Meeting Resistance,” a challenging, sympathetic portrait of the Iraqi insurgency that has been screened for high-ranking officials in the U.S. military. Senior dance majors showcased their theses with the concert “Four Lessons in Astrosexuality”.

For most of December students were buckling down for exams, but that didn’t mean there was nothing going on. It seemed like every night a different comedy, a capella or comedy a capella group popped up in the library lobbies to keep spirits up during reading week. Second Stage, the student-run theater company, put on some of the best plays of the year, culminating with “Marisol.” December also featured concerts by jazz ensembles directed by acclaimed composer (and Wesleyan professor) Anthony Braxton.

February brought several Wesleyan traditions: the annual production of “The Vagina Monologues,” “Skittles,” the students of color art show, and “Jubilee,” the Black History Month cultural show. The African Underground Allstars, a hip-hop group with members from Ghana, Mali and Sierra Leone, performed on campus. Moisés Kaufman, one of the founders of New York’s Tectonic Theater Company and co-writer of “The Laramie Project,” spoke in the Center for the Arts (CFA).

March was exciting on both ends of Spring Break. The first week of the month featured an epic, jam-heavy show by psychedelic folk-rockers Akron/Family. The week after break was punctuated by senior dance majors’ second thesis performance “Instadance.”

April was intense. If you visited as a pre-frosh, there is a decent chance you caught the WestCo Music and Arts Festival (formerly Zonker Harris Day), which is a day of music, crafts and things of which your parents probably wouldn’t approve. Up-and-coming electro-pop duo MGMT, composed of ’05 graduates Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, played to an ecstatic capacity crowd at Beckham Hall. Tickets for “Big Love,” the year’s second faculty-helmed play, sold out quickly. There was room for one more cultural showcase, “Mabuhay,” which featured music, dance and poetry from Asian and Asian American students.

The year closed on a high note in May. Senior film majors screened their thesis projects to sold-out crowds. And then there was the small matter of Spring Fling, which featured sets by the Cool Kids (!), The Hold Steady (!!) and the Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA performing his first solo album “Liquid Swords” (!!!).

…and that’s not all. Every weekend there are student plays, comedy, dance performances, poetry readings, recitals, bands and various other cool things that we haven’t anticipated, not to mention the Film Series. Seek them out, experience them. You will not be disappointed.

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