Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

In-the-Round Fall Dance Concert Opens this November

Mekdes Shiferaw

A&E Editor

 

This week, the College of Wooster’s Theatre and Dance department will proudly introduce the first Fall Dance Concert in a semi-post-COVID-19 world. Besides it being the first show in quite some time, this upcoming concert is unique in that it is entirely choreographed by students. The eight student choreographers are Liv Kline ’22, Ivan Mreis Akiri ’22, Nikki Preucil ’22, Katie Spence ’23, Bee Bi ’23, Gracie Shreve ’23, Morgan Carson ’23 and Julian Grimes ’25. Drawing from various inspirations and covering sensitive topics such as chaos, control, body image, female empowerment, hospitals, discomfort, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, the students will be showcasing their own original work. In addition, the concert also highlights the work of student costume designers and lighting designers.

The concert is “in-the-round,” meaning that the audience is seated around all four sides of the stage. This design choice creates an immersive and intimate experience. It also poses a unique challenge to the choreographers because they have to make sure their piece looks good from all angles, not just “the front.” Moreover, Akiri will be presenting his I.S. piece that incorporates elements of the visual arts into the concert.

In discussing their individual roles as well as their roles as collaborators in the concert, Preucil, who choreographed a piece titled “Nothing Unseen” by drawing inspirations from discourses and perceptions regarding body image, reflected, “I think that within the show there is a lot of collaboration, but also within each individual piece. What I love about choreographing here is that it is very much a collaborative process, where the choreographers receive input from their dancers as well as the choreographers and dancers from other pieces.” Further, Grimes shared, “My dance is very martial arts inspired, and is meant to show the control of the mind and body developed by martial arts.” Professor Baird, who is a visiting assistant professor of theatre and dance and director of this concert stated, “Overall, I am immensely proud of all the work that the students have put into the show, and I am continually impressed by how vulnerable they have been in the rehearsal process. I think it’s going to be a great show and I hope that the student body comes out to support them.” The choreographers ask that we, as an audience, keep an open mind and experience the performance holistically.

When: Nov. 18, 19 and 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Freedlander Theatre

How to get tickets: The box office opens on Monday, Nov. 15. Student tickets are free but need to be reserved in advance. Students can physically stop by the box office (in Freedlander Theatre), or call (330)-263-224.

COVID-19: All audience members are required to show proof of full vaccination. Masks are required throughout the performance.

Scan this QR code to reserve tickets online: wooster.edu/tickets.

Ed.: Use the link. 

The Underground (Taylor’s Version)

Emma Shinker

Chief Copy Editor

 

Friday, Nov. 12 felt like the perfect night to dress up like Taylor Swift and scream the lyrics to your old favorite songs. The Underground (UG) was alive as “Swifties” from across campus came together to share their love of the artist and celebrate the release of her newest re-recorded album, Red (Taylor’s Version).

The original “Red” album came out in 2012, but last Friday was the first time fans heard versions of the songs that are owned by Swift herself, as well as some new, previously unreleased tracks written nine years ago. The project began when Swift’s original record label sold the master recordings for her first six albums without her permission and without giving her the chance to buy them for herself. To make a long story short, Swift decided to re-record identical versions of all the songs so that she would own them and be able to use and perform them however she pleases.

Swift isn’t the only artist who has had a negative experience with greedy record labels, and she hopes her story can help turn the tables. She explained the situation in a series of Tumblr posts in 2019, adding that “hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn about how to better protect themselves in a negotiation. You deserve to own the art you make.” Recently, Olivia Rodrigo took this to heart when she signed her record deal and made sure that she has ownership of her masters.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the second re-recorded album Swift has put out, after “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” in April of 2021, and there are four more in the works. 

Fiona Schieve ’23 spoke enthusiastically about theories surrounding which re-recorded album would be released next. She has been a fan of Swift since her debut album in 2006 and came to the Underground event “because I’m stressed out and there was Taylor Swift,” which seems as good a reason as any. “No matter what mood you’re in,” she continued, “if you dig deep enough into her discography there’s a song for everything.”

Whatever mood students had been in before 8 p.m. on Friday, the atmosphere in the Underground was joyous as they danced and sang along to songs from across Swift’s discography, from classics like “You Belong With Me” and “The Story of Us” to newer favorites like “I Did Something Bad” and “Paper Rings.” And, of course, the night featured tracks from “Red (Taylor’s Version)” itself, such as “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Message In A Bottle” and “Holy Ground.” 

According to Miriam Harley ’24, who works at the UG and DJed the event, “We wanted people to be able to come to the UG and just have a good time.” Judging from the high energy in the room, the UG staff seem to have accomplished that goal.

“Honestly it has revived my childhood love of Taylor Swift,” remarked Anna Walsh ’24, who also called the night “a boppin’ good time.”

Harley expressed the Underground’s desire to host more events like this one, and emphasized that if students want to see an event for another album drop they think would be in demand, they should reach out.

And if you’d like to feed your inner Swiftie, Harley recommends listening to “Enchanted” or the new ten minute cut of “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version),” and Schieve, despite justifiably noting that it is too hard to choose a favorite, recommends “Wonderland” and “The Moment I Knew (Taylor’s Version).” 

ABBA Sets Off on a Voyage: An Album Review

Andy Mockbee

Contributing Writer

 

Not all comebacks are created equal. I am cheering on go-go boots and corduroy as they rise from the ashes of irrelevancy, but why must clogs and capris also cram their way through the door while it’s open? Of course, no comeback in recent memory has been quite as heavily anticipated as that of Swedish pop group, ABBA. This is, of course, in no small part due to the 40 years since the group’s last record.

But this extensive drought between releases led most to presume the worst from the group’s ninth studio album, “Voyage.” The album stood as one of those few projects that garnered both sky-high anticipation and little to no pressure. Astoundingly, the group’s talent has remained sharp, as they produced a solid record that is both a tasteful embrace of their history as well as a powerful statement of their sound’s potency in the present pop landscape.

“Just A Notion” feels closest to a classic ABBA track — and for good reason. The track was originally written and intended for the group’s 1979 album, “Voulez-Vous.” The track features a fresh instrumental layered over the original recording’s vocals. If this sounds like a recipe for a jarring listening experience, you’d be right; but, thankfully, ABBA’s new material featured on the album is strong enough to stand beside it. “I’m not the same this time around!” Agnetha Fältskog remarks on the standout track, “Don’t Shut Me Down.” Although the performance is more sedate than it might’ve been were it recorded back in their prime (we’ll take her at her word when she insists “I’m fired up”), it still remarkably matches “Just A Notion” in pure quality. The penultimate tracks, “Keep An Eye On Dan” and “No Doubt About It” have them both beat in their unique instrumental and catchy songwriting. The former track stands out with intriguing and unique lyrics that describe the relationship between divorced parents, while the latter sets itself apart with raw energy.

But the album is not all fun and games; “Voyage” is well-balanced with competent balladry. “I Can Be That Woman” contains some of ABBA’s strongest lyrical material to date. The heart-wrenching song documents a relationship surviving and recovering from a rocky period of addiction and strife. “Oh God, I’m sorry for the wasted years,” she sings, voice laced with grief and hope. What makes the song so powerful is the insular specificity of it. “And the dog, bless her heart, licks my fingers / But she jerks every time you swear,” she recalls in one of the album’s strongest moments.

While surprisingly powerful, “Voyage” is not perfect. “When You Danced With Me” sees the group tackle a fusion between pop and an Irish jig. It’s fun and endearing, but not the easiest on the ears — especially as their vocals get swallowed beneath the chaotic instrumental. “Little Things,” a Christmas ballad, is particularly abrupt in the album as the group cedes the last half-minute to a children’s choir. Early in the tracklist, these tracks may seem like cause for concern, but fortunately, they’re outliers.

The album’s greatest track is actually the first: “I Still Have Faith In You.” The group travels the galaxy in its five minute runtime. The orchestral composition builds from a low murmur in the verses, Fältskog’s entrancing voice as soft as it is powerful. As the extravagant instrumental bursts into life, she seems to provide a response to all the low expectations the album was preceded with: “We do have it in us!” After 40 years, it’s incredible that they really do.

“The French Dispatch” is Wes Anderson at His Most Extreme

Collin Tobin

Chief Copy Editor

 

“The French Dispatch” is the latest project from Wes Anderson and another major release delayed by the pandemic. The film depicts three major stories in the final edition of an internationally distributed newspaper publication in Ennui-sur-Blasé, France, after the death of its editor. Among the ensemble cast are veterans of the director’s filmography like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Tilda Swinton as well as first-time collaborators Benicio Del Toro, Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright and several others.

If you’re familiar with Wes Anderson and his body of work at all, you’ll know that he has probably the most distinct visual style of any filmmaker out there. His nearly symmetrical framing of every scene, pastel color palette, ensemble casts, eccentric characters, and offbeat dialogue make his work instantly recognizable; “The French Dispatch” is certainly no different. This trademark style is turned up to eleven and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down at any point during the hour-and-fifty-minute runtime. There’s just so much going on in every frame that I’m sure I missed a lot the first time. The production design team has a way of making every set feel lived-in and giving them so much personality that they feel like their own characters. The aforementioned members of the ensemble are given their comedic moments through cleverly constructed interactions with their surroundings and the ever-present dry humor of Anderson’s scripts.

For the eighth time, Anderson paired with cinematographer Robert Yeoman to create one of their best-looking collaborations yet. Switching between soft pastel pinks, yellows and blues in the present day and black and white for past events, the pair have made their most visually interesting work to date. For the most part, the film is shot in the 4:3 aspect ratio, which is more box-shaped, making nearly every shot look like a postcard you want to have framed on your wall. Another longtime collaborator, composer Alexandre Desplat, composed another delightful score to match the overall pleasant atmosphere.

This film sets itself apart from Anderson’s other films through its anthology structure, which fits with its overarching ode to journalism. Anderson himself described this as his “love letter to journalists.” The sometimes overly-detailed accounts that can be found in reporting perfectly lend itself to Anderson’s intricate way of telling stories — with an overwhelming amount of precision. Without the need to interconnect these individual stories, he’s able to take off running in whatever bizarre direction he wants and that’s what I think makes this movie so special. The story of this fictitious publication doesn’t quite reach the heights and prestige of The Wooster Voice, but it’s still a pretty great movie about journalism.

I’ve seen this described as not the best Wes Anderson movie, but the most Wes Anderson movie, and I couldn’t agree more. Fans will no doubt be satisfied with “The French Dispatch,” as it’s been garnering Oscar buzz since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2021. The more I think about it, the more I think that this is my favorite movie of 2021 so far and among “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” as one of the director’s best. I always have a great time watching his movies, but this one felt different than the others, and I hope I get to see it again soon.

A Valentine from Snail Mail: An Album Review

Andy Mockbee

Contributing Writer

 

In the music video for lead single and title track, “Valentine,” Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan is seen adorning a Victorian-era gown soaked in blood, slouching at a dining table as she gorges on cake by the fistful. “Time tends to pass and make a joke of things,” she reasons on “Forever (Sailing).” The 22-year-old singer has the maturity and wisdom to recognize when it’s appropriate to indulge your aching heart. And on “Valentine”—her sublime, sophomore album—Jordan has every right to indulge. By the end of its 32-minute runtime, crying into cake feels like a necessary response. Expanding the stylistic palette from her indie-rock, 2018 debut, Lindsey Jordan triumphs over her pain by embracing it with grace and maturity.

The most notable development since “Lush” is Jordan’s expansion beyond the jangly indie-rock that she had become known for. Many tracks, like the earworm “Ben Franklin,” fashion her melodies into glittering and funk-driven pop. Album centerpiece, “Forever (Sailing),” sees Snail Mail presented in mournful dream-pop. “Doesn’t obsession just become me?” Even equipped with a new bag of tricks, Jordan’s knack for confessional one-liners is sharp as ever. Her writing is especially potent when delivered over the intimate, acoustic ballads “Headlock,” “Light Blue” and “c. et al.” Her emotive vocals never cease to tighten chests.

Even when Snail Mail returns to the stylings present on “Lush”, such as on the immaculate “Glory,” Jordan shows her growth since that era. “You own me,” she growls over a rush of indie-rock instrumentals. Violin and sparse piano lurch beneath the mix, serving to complicate the song’s ever-present rage. It’s masterful. The only crime here is that it’s the shortest track on the album.

But there’s more than just stylistic changes to Snail Mail’s writing since her debut. “Valentine” sees Jordan stretching her pen into more abstract territories. “Madonna” considers the perils of idolizing the person you love from an evocatively metaphorical lens. “I consecrate my life to kneeling at your altar / My second sin of seven being wanting more.” Only the slightest hint of irony can be detected in her voice as she croons, “Could that have been the smell of roses, backseat lover?” Snail Mail’s trademark directness becomes the song’s Trojan Horse: “I don’t know why but / We’re not really talking now.”

The penultimate track, “Automate,” is also the album’s greatest. Jordan’s tried-and-true indie-rock stylings are adorned with walls of distortion, rich strings, haunting piano and wailing percussion. The Brooklyn singer delivers one of her most complex vocal performances—beautifully lilting and sour—contemplating the failings of passion-fueled love. The scene begins as a bittersweet memory: slow-dancing in her bedroom after a party dissipates. But, much like the party, Jordan realizes that their love is unsustainable. “I guess I couldn’t keep her fire out,” she softly remarks before snarling “I’m like your dog!” Snail Mail perfectly encapsulates the complex emotions of the ending to something never built to last. “Childishly, I’m lonely when it’s time to clear out the party.”

Like any great tragedy, Lindsey Jordan saves the most heart-breaking moment for the end. Singing over a mourning, orchestral swell, closing track “Mia” finds Jordan expressing her grief in its most potent colors. “Mia, don’t cry / I love you forever / But I gotta grow up now.” It’s gutting.

Jordan will pick herself back up—she always does. But on “Valentine,” she’s giving herself the opportunity to feel every ounce of today’s pain. As the album fades out, Jordan delivers her current desires in their most unguarded state: “I wish that I / Could lay down next to you.” Our hearts ache with hers.

Fall Fire Fit Fuel

Brimmer Morrison

Contributing Writer

 

As the Ohio fall weather gets colder, the athletes go to their freezing night practices and everyone studies until they have heart palpitations. It is certainly hard to put together an outfit for the day or think about how you want to present yourself. The nights have officially transitioned to freezing temperatures, the days are crisp with lip-cracking breezes and when it rains, the brown sludge runs off of the Lowry renovation construction site. I am not going to sugarcoat it, sometimes walking around campus during this point of the semester fills me with dread. With that said, I believe that wearing the right clothes for the occasion has the possibility of changing your mood and even making your day a bit more productive. Dress for success, right? With The College of Wooster having an excellent mix of different individual backgrounds and environments associated with those backgrounds, it is hard to know what to wear at this school when the fall weather starts to turn. Some of us love the availability to layer our sweaters and some of us have a trusty coat that we just put on to go to class.

For everyone on campus, there are a few timeless fall/winter looks and pieces that I think people of all walks of life can keep their eyes out for and maybe buy with the little money that we have from working our campus jobs. All of the items I mention can be picked up on secondhand websites like Depop, Poshmark, The Real Real, Ebay or local thrift spots for a fairly reasonable price. To start out, workwear and hiking gear are always a sustainable and functional way to upgrade your closet. You might want something athletic but stylish, cue waterproof pants. Made from a variety of materials like nylon, GORE-TEX or a synthetic cotton, waterproof pants will help you a lot when you start wanting to walk up the entirety of Beall Ave to get a frozen pizza from the C-store. In addition to waterproof pants, a rain jacket or an insulated parka will have you cozy and dry through even the nastiest of Ohio weather. Too many of you use umbrellas thinking it will allow you to wear an outfit while staying dry, however, that is simply not the right thinking. When it starts hailing on and off for seven hours, your body will still lose excessive heat when you needlessly hold a piece of metal out in front of you thinking it will keep you safe.

Other than simply preparing for bad weather and staying out of the elements, the styles that I would suggest to the College would be described as post-Soviet as well as Japanese prep. I highly suggest looking at what you already have in your closet as reference and try building off of one of these style platforms. Post-Soviet fashion generally mixes track suits and athletic wear with oversized suits, especially oversized suit jackets and whatever shoes you have. A fun addition, if you’d like to show off some muscle, is wearing tight, athletic, long sleeves with baggy, pleated pants and a chunky belt. Many students on campus already wear dark academia and style quite well, so Japanese prep fashion could give an alternative edge to your beloved dark academia look. With more loafers, duck boots, baggy jeans, overcoats in natural tones and fitted hats, Japanese prep adds a bit more of a neutral gender approach in comparison to Western prep because of its ambiguous silhouette. In the QR Code attached, you can find a mood board of outfit inspirations that I mentioned in this article. Go take a look.

PS: Balaclavas are in… I hope to see someone wearing one soon.