REVOLUTION! Long in the making, first annual ArtsFest set to open

The theme of revolution will be at the forefront of various artistic performances and displays in the first Butler University ArtsFest.

ArtsFest will feature more than 40 performances and other events between April 18-28.

This is the first ArtsFest, which is to become an annual event.

It will be used, in part, to honor the opening of the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts this year.

Ronald Caltabiano, Jordan College of the Arts dean, said JCA was looking to accomplish several things at once when the idea for ArtsFest was conceived.

“We want to show the complexity of what we do as a college,” Caltabiano said. “The college is not just individual departments. These departments work together to create big things.”

Richard Auldon Clark, Butler Symphony Orchestra director, said ArtsFest is “a brilliant opportunity” for JCA students to work alongside professionals and guest artists.

“(ArtsFest) will be successful,” Clark said. “It’s not just a student or professional festival but a mix, which is a win-win for everybody.”

ArtsFest will include dance, music and theatre performances as well as lectures and art shows. All events will revolve around a central theme of revolution.

More than half the events are free, and student ticket prices are intentionally low in the hopes of bringing more Butler students to these events.

“My only disappointment with Butler is that not enough of the student population takes advantage of cultural events on campus,” Clark said. “I think ArtsFest will bring them in.”

Although the very first ArtsFest has yet to begin, Caltabiano said he is already looking forward to the event’s potential growth in the future.

“This is like a start-up company,” Caltabiano said. “Our intention is to grow from a modest beginning into a Midwest attraction that brings in major talent from around the world.”

He said the event can benefit not only those at Butler but also individuals and groups in the surrounding Indianapolis area.

“(ArtsFest) will create a new artistic entity for Indianapolis and, in that way, bring all the arts in Indy together at the same time as we bring in talent from outside the area,” Caltabiano said. “It will raise the profile of Butler in the arts community and put what we do in front of more diverse audiences.”

Larry Attaway, dance department chair and Butler Ballet executive director, said he is excited for the grand opening of the Schrott Center with ArtsFest.

“The only way artists know how to celebrate is by doing stuff,” Attaway said. “This festival is more about the celebration of the success of this whole project.”

Butler’s dance department will be holding three large-scale performances that encompass the revolutionary theme.

“Giselle” is a ballet performed in two acts that premiered in Paris in 1841. It tells the story of a peasant girl who finds out the man she loves is in love with someone else, and she dies of a broken heart.

“‘Giselle’ in and of itself is the quintessential romantic ballet,” Attaway said. “One of the first of its kind, it opened the doors in the ballet world for other pieces to come forth.”

In addition to “Giselle,” Paul Taylor’s conception of “Le Sacré du Printemps” will be performed to live music in the Schrott Center.

Lastly, Butler Ballet will perform Arnold Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire.” This was revolutionary in the music world because it abandoned tonality and featured the first use of sprechstimme, or speak-singing.

The piece requires five versatile instrumentalists, which is why it is not performed very often.

Soprano Mary Nessinger will be coming from Vassar College, where she is an adjunct artist in music, to perform this piece.

“This has been choreographed numerous times before,” Attaway said. “I’m choreographing this version, but my storyline behind it is not very typical.”

Sophomore theatre major Julia Levine said she looks forward to being part of this festival, specifically to getting the opportunity to work in the Schrott Center.

“It’s great for theater because it gives us an official proscenium space to work in,” Levine said. “As aspiring professional theater artists, we also need a more traditional and realistic space to work in.

“As someone in the arts, it’s helpful for me to know what my peers are doing in other departments,” she said. “It gives me a chance to share in what their works are.”

A full calendar of events can be found at


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