Up and Away

Up and Away

The 2023 International Festival of Arts & Ideas is just a week away. According to the website, this year’s theme, “Rise,” “celebrates self-determination and transformational creativity” in rising to meet “challenges from all directions in life.”

We at Daily Nutmeg challenge ourselves each year to reorient the festival’s vast calendar using our own invented categories. Given this year’s theme, there’s no better direction to go than up, as in…

Opening Up
Open wide for a shaken/stirred cocktails class, a “storytelling dinner,” a duo of neighborhood gastronomy tours, a Juneteenth brunch and a “sinfully vegetarian” dish and demo. Then open wider for a “unique presentational format,” a “walker between worlds,” the “hopes, fears, and dreams” of young filmmakers from four countries, a “journey through the wardrobe of Ghana’s citizenry and royalty,” a “reconnect[ion] to purpose,” a dip into the quantum realm and Strange Light: A VR/AR Project.

Studying Up
In addition to numerous talks, the fest offers both hands-on learning and learning on your feet. Examine wildlife and water quality on Outer Island; take all-levels dance classes in five styles; get a read on a historic novel in a historic library; tour the nation’s oldest agricultural experiment station; engage with Juneteenth; cycle through historic hotspots and industrial ages and public artworks and local schools; then see if what you’ve learned helps you with a knowledge-based scavenger hunt promising “fabulous prizes.”

Growing Up
Youth is served by Winnie the Pooh and crew; a different child-bear pair, in a tale “blending shadow puppetry, physical theatre, and animation”; an “environmental musical of the sea” with a Connecticut connection; a “super interactive” family concert with the New Haven Symphony; “Afro beat fun” for the whole family; interactive theater starring human bee-ings; an intro to circus arts; and a modern architecture walk geared toward pre-teens, in loose conjunction with Docomomo’s 2023 National Symposium, held this year in New Haven.

Showing Up
Theatricality and choreography are nigh. “A new vision of the criminal spouses in a sped-up version [of] Macbeth completely unravels Shakespeare’s tragedy.” “A renowned Andean Folk ensemble… perform centuries-old music and dances that have been passed along from one generation to the next.” A “multi-disciplinary production creates an imagined experience of what could have been.” A one-woman show “crosses the aesthetics of campaign rallies and church revivals to tell her unique journey from performance artist to public official.” Dancers bring “an essential component of wedding celebrations and the nine-day fall Hindu festival Navratri” halfway around the world. “Drag Queens across the universe must unite using the 5 elements of Vogue to RISE up and defeat an ominous threat to planet Earth.” A wanderable “living sculpture gallery” becomes “dynamic dancing” to “a soundscape of the performers’ voices.”

Turning Up
Nothing quite brings the city together like a tentpole concert on the Green. Over its 16-day course, the festival is set to stage nine of them featuring 13 acts spanning classical, Latin, Tropical Afro-Latin, singer-songwriting, new gospel, hip hop, R&B, soul, reggae, gospel, Americana, bilingual pop, smooth jazz, Haitian neo-soul and Soca music.

And if you don’t know what all of those horizon-expanding genres sound like—I’m unclear on a few—simply turn up at the Green and let the horizon do the rest.

Written by Dan Mims. Images, sourced from artidea.org, feature QUITAPENAS, Outer Island, Wink, Kristina Wong and STOUT.

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