Making Connections

Making Connections

After a virtual 2020 and a cautious ’21, the 2022 International Festival of Arts & Ideas seems ready to recapture its normal level of extraordinariness. And after two years contending with degrees and kinds of separation and division, the theme, “Connect,” feels just right.

As per festival tradition, the calendar connects most densely over two weeks in mid-June, and as per Daily Nutmeg tradition, we’re connecting with that calendar by drawing our own thematic connections between some of its 162 events:

Setting in Motion
The main stage on the Green is, as ever, a place to move and be moved. Rhythm, energy and liberation activate a Juneteenth show of gospel, jazz and African dancing and drumming. Vocal performances float above the New Haven Symphony Orchestra’s movements. Israeli-Persian singer Liraz shimmies to her “shimmering” electro-pop. An “infectious beat” is the move of bomba opener Proyecto Cimmaron, while “passion, energy and dance” animate Chicano headliners Las Cafeteras. Move away from the Green and find other movements: in the choreography of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre; in the fierce struts of runway models and joyful gait of Handsome Dan; in a motion picture bike ride and a movie studio tour; in a resonant vision of a changed future. Come back to the Green for “Marbles in Motion,” a set of family-friendly, hands-on physics exercises from the Eli Whitney Museum, and Steal the Stars, a fantastical display of “twists, tumbles, and jumps”—spanning aerial silks, Chinese pole and more—by local circus arts school Air Temple Arts.

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Westville Artwalk 2022

The festival is calling on the city’s most active resident ambassadors—its chefs—to bring us some of that international flavor. House of Naan and vegetarian sister restaurant Pataka team up for a cocktail lesson with small Indian bites, while pan-Asian spot Blue Orchid leads a trip through “the many flavors of Asia.” A Grand Avenue gastronomy tour invokes the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico, while a 20-mile bike tour with a mysterious itinerary promises “real kitchen stories” and “tastes from around the world.” A talk and cooking demo by chef and cookbook author Bryant Terry spotlights food from the African diaspora, while Westville’s elegant Pistachio Cafe fuses Syria with brunch. But the most well-traveled culinary experience of all comes courtesy of Sanctuary Kitchen, the Peabody Museum and Middle Eastern fusion spot RAWA, as refugee chefs cook ancient Babylonian recipes from “the oldest cookbooks in the world.”

A local historian and super-collector invites us to get Lost in New Haven, while establishing and established poets lose themselves in spoken word. PechaKucha New Haven uses its words to ask for yours: “How much can you share in 20 slides, 20 seconds each?” “Local drag royalty”—plus “the world’s #1 Beyoncé tribute artist”—mouth the words as loudly as they can. Michelle Buteau, the wise-cracking disembodied narrator of Netflix’s The Circle, puts a face to the name, while a bookish “insider’s tour” of 225-year-old Grove Street Cemetery has fun with its: “Bibliophilia and Taphophilia for a Quasquibicentennial.”

Water We Doing Next?
It’s water’s world, and we’re just living in it. Kayaks lead to cocktails and local oysters during a tour of the Quinnipiac. Yoga happens on water and on land on water. A super moon, or “Strawberry Moon,” lights the way while generating higher-than-average tidal force. A journalist discusses “the future of our oceans” in a climate-changed world and the choices we can make to affect it. Walking and cycling tours explore a “hidden gem on the New Haven waterfront” and a river we often don’t (but should) associate with nature. Water is a key ingredient and a sensible accompaniment at two Beerfests offering “a variety of beer from more than 20 local breweries.”

And if you strongly connect with any of these events—particularly the ones that have very limited space—reserve your spots now, then start connecting with the art and the idea of an extraordinary June.

Written by Dan Mims. Images 1, 2 and 3—of Liraz, a Pistachio Cafe spread and fashion designer Prajjé Oscar—provided courtesy of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. Image 4, of a kayaking excursion during last year’s festival, photographed by Dan Mims.

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