By Maryam Outlaw
Students hear about The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center all the time. The arts venue is constantly represented on the campus during during the freshmen-packed First Look Fair and even during football games, but do they really know what their community arts center is all about?
Although The Clarice showcases multiple events for student performers, they also include performances from outside artists on a weekly basis. Its 2015-16 season is dedicated to cultural diversity, international entertainers and intimacy between artists and their audiences.
For example, The Clarice hosts a series of Creative Dialogues, events in which students can speak to artists, ask questions and participate in their craft with them. According to their website, “these conversations … are focused on process and research rather than product and performance.” The upcoming Nov. 14 event will feature Washington, D.C., choreographer Margot Greenlee, who choreographs dances that people of all ages with various levels of health can do.
Performances are open to everyone, but in an effort to reach more students, The Clarice initiated student ambassadors this year, a group of scholars interested in marketing the performance center’s many happenings.
Graduate student information systems major Varsha Purswani never went to The Clarice before becoming a student ambassador, but is now enthusiastic about the establishment.
“It’s a cool place, and I had no idea about it,” Purswani said. “I am glad my awareness has increased now and I can convey the same to other students. The Clarice is a happening place. Anyone, who is even a little inclined toward art would love the performances.”
Grammy-nominated jazz guitar player Julian Lage performed at the Cambridge Community Center and The Clarice on Oct. 15 and 16, respectively. He performed a free, stripped-down acoustic show. Students listened and could ask any questions about his artistic history and process.
Senior history and Russian major Jessica Jost, whose first interaction with The Clarice involved Lage’s performance, enjoyed the production despite the fact that Lage’s style is different from her usual tastes.
“His voice was very soothing and his guitar playing was really great,” Jost said. “Usually, I’m not a big fan of just straight up music without words, but … I definitely went home and looked up more of his stuff.”
Jost, also a student ambassador, finds that students unfamiliar with The Clarice can expect to see a performance with a message.
“It’s going to be thought-provoking,” Jost said. “All the shows that we have coming up are meant to make you think about…racism, sexism, [and] all these kind of things that are still affecting our society today. Sure you’ll enjoy the show, but you’re also going to have a deeper understanding of the topic afterward.”
For instance, on Nov. 6, The Clarice welcomes Haitian singer-songwriter Emeline Michel, who writes her lyrics about social issues. West African-inspired vocalist Angélique Kidjo will also take the stage Dec. 5. Her songs are about “celebrating the resilience and beauty of Africa’s women,” according to The Clarice’s website.
Although The Clarice offers multiple events for free, students can pick up free tickets to any ticketed event Mondays before desired performances and register for The Clarice’s email service for weekly updates on performances soon to come.