Winterstock takes stock of varied student creativity

Those who braved the ice on Saturday night did not walk, but slipped into a compilation of the student body’s creativity at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance for the first Winterstock: Student Art Festival. Individual talents displayed their works amidst and en route to smaller scale venues for established groups. Britt Baker-Brosseau ’11, inspired by the summer she spent in France, organized the festival with the help of Katerina Belkin ’11 and Stephen Simalchik ’13 to best showcase students’ gifts. “There are so many talented people on this campus, but we are not always aware of it,” she said. “I thought it would be a good idea to have festival where people could see dance, music, theater and visual art, all in the same space!”
The setup of Winterstock allowed the audience to choose its own artistic adventure. After receiving a color-coded map that showed the locations of the various groups and artists, the crowds migrated between rooms and stages for performances in 10-minute cycles. The individual experience went beyond personal perception; everyone could pick the order in which they saw dance groups, musicians and poets.
In the Director’s Studio, for instance, Soraya Membreno ’12, Hari Ramesh ’11, Jesse Sardel ’14 and Brian Thomas ’12 each gave personal, stylized narratives as part of Speakfree. The barebones setting and casual atmosphere isolated the words from the dynamic delivery of the group’s showcases. The poets and audience both focused on the poems acting as a conduit between them. It was an intimate opportunity to peer into, as Sardel phrased it, “a bottomless reservoir of untapped possibilities.”
Hanging in the hallway of the ’62 Center, photographic portraits caught the eye on casual strolls between performances, some showcasing student dancers while another detailed a pair of Italian gondoliers.
“My favorite subject is people,” Robert Kim ’11 said of his pieces. The lobby featured his independent study sculpture of a computer mouse, representing the tactile relationship between the virtual and real worlds.
NBC took on the Mainstage with an abbreviation of one of its signature electric routines. Samples from the group’s fall show and choreography done to songs like Kanye West’s “Monster” stood out against a backdrop of vibrant colors. Ultimately, it seemed that the stage didn’t fully do them justice, with the smaller audience unable to feed them enough of the raucous support NBC is used to.
The seminar room had a projected movie by Jonathan Draxton ’12 and John Hawthorne ’13 on loop. Happy Wanderers, a medley of public domain clips and raw footage, is best summed up by its creators as “defying explanation … and even that might give it too much credit.”
Dance Dhamaka presented less than polished but promising choreography from its upcoming April show. Percussion and mincing with their feet as well as expressive hands accompanied a fusion of South Indian classical music and standard Bollywood. The audience clapped along to a solo dance by Uttara Partap ’13. The barrage of the senses from the saris and the zils was over before the audience knew it.
In the foyer, a few large poster boards displayed efforts from behind the scenes of Cap and Bells shows. Costumes and still pictures showed the progression of the recent Ghost in the Machine from artistic conception to reality. Other artists used sound to engage listeners. Jacob Walls ’11 explained the four musical experiments of a dozen players of classical instruments. Set to sung poetry such as Walt Whitman’s “A Noiseless, Patient Spider” and text from Charles Dickens’ last novel, the soaring notes “added a little drama” on the way to an eclectic blend of mediums. A foray in a very different auditory direction came from Craig Corsi ’14 in his “Freshmanland.” Corsi, who dubbed himself “DJ Embrace,” represented his first year at Williams with synthesized pieces completed during his music technology class and over Winter Study.
Peter de Riemer ’13 showcased his Winter Study 99, which was a combination of “making up stuff for fun and an existential crisis in the humanities in general,” he said. Fictional CD artwork accompanied their reviews, as he questioned whether music had any inherent value in a vacuum. Perhaps Strung Out (also known as the All Acoustic Alliance) could provide an answer with the brief jam session held in the Adams Memorial Theater. Emily Spine ’11 reveled with a love ballad she had composed for the keyboard. Patrick Lin ’13 performed his own piece with a guitar accompaniment; the two then teamed up for another song by Lin. “It’s great,” Lin said of Winterstock, “both for the audience if they have a short attention span and for the performers, since we have three shots to improve.”
“I think it would be great if artists from different groups and disciplines would collaborate more, and I hope that something like Winterstock can encourage this in the future,” Baker-Brosseau said.

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