PREVIEW: Aida Cuevas with Mariachi Aztlán

What: a mariachi concert performed by Aida Cuevas, award-winning traditional mariachi singer and recipient of a Grammy (2018) and a Latin Grammy (2010), supported by Mariachi Aztlán, nationally recognized mariachi band from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

When: Friday, November 4, 8:00pm

Where: Hill Auditorium

Tickets: free for students with a Passport to the Arts voucher, available at Residence Hall Community Centers, the Pierpont Commons Info Desk, Trotter Multicultural Center, and the Office of New Student Programs in the SAB; otherwise, student tickets are $20 each

Aida Cuevas with Mariachi Aztlán is sure to be a lively performance, showcasing both the richness of traditional mariachi and of Cuevas’s powerful voice. Cuevas last visited the University of Michigan in the fall of 2018, the same year she broke barriers as the first woman to win a Grammy Award for Best Regional Mexican Music Album in the male-dominated field of Mexican ranchera. Known as the “Queen of Ranchera,” the artist is known for her vocal range and impeccable falsetto, drawing comparisons to powerhouse vocalists like Aretha Franklin. The audience atmosphere at Hill Auditorium tomorrow evening should also be festive, with audiences often singing and dancing along in their seats. Consider grabbing a Passport to the Arts and spending Friday evening enjoying this unique cultural experience.

REVIEW: Groove Robs the Louvre

I admire Groove’s creativity.

On the night that the Groove declared that they will rob the Louvre(!), the Michigan theater where the viewers would be the witness this exciting heist was filled up with the crowd. The performance was highly enjoyable because, fundamentally, the performances sounded so good! Groove is a student organization known to create amazing beats out of untraditional percussion instruments such as trash cans, plastic buckets, or anything they can beat! It was amazing how the Groove used different percussion that did not sound the same – each has a different pitch, so instead of the sounds crumbling altogether, they came together to create an exciting harmony.

Yeah, everyone knows that Groove sounds amazing, but I was wondering from my prior experience from watching their shows consisting of short performances focused solely on sounds about how they will link diverse percussion performances into a 2-hour show with theme and storyline. As always, Groove’s creativity was way ahead of me. The general storyline was that Groove had decided to rob the Louvre as a bonding activity, and each performance represented what happened during the planning of the heist, the incident they had on France, and how they finally went through all the challenges and stole Monariza. As for the story, short dialogues were inserted between shows while the stage settings were being changed. This was a smart, strategic choice not only because it prevented the audience from being bored during the pause but also because it overcame the percussion performance’s difficulty to convey the story due to the lack of lyrics in the music.

The show was well structured: as the story unfolded, the scope of their performance became wider as well. The performance started with purely percussion sounds – the ones we would expect from a typical groove performance(wait, groove performance is never typical!). Also, the performance offered interesting visual scenes while the percussion was being played – my personal favorite was where they were making music in a kitchen scene where the icebox was used as the main beat while other small kitchen utensils and cooking process, including the popping of the egg as the highlight, were added on top of it. Both visually humorous and sonically exciting, this scene was truly enjoyable. Then the wider range of performances joined on top of the beat, such as dancing or the display of talents of the members including receiving a jelly thrown across the stage by the mouth. Then, the range of instruments widened to include strings and horns, returning to percussion performance in the end. This not only showed how talented each individual of Groove is but also proved that Groove’s ability to coordinate music is not bounded to percussion.

Alas, I almost forgot to mention the incredible stage design! Stage made out of iron bars that had fake Monariza on it definitely highlighted the ‘Louvre’ part while going so well with the exciting, raw vibe of Groove’s music. In all, I really appreciated the pure creativity that Groove had enchanted us with during the two-hour show.

PREVIEW: Oh, the Places Pops Goes!

On April 2nd, 7 pm, Michigan Pops Orchestra, the U of M’s student-run, student-directed orchestra, will present “Oh, the Places Pops Goes!” in the Michigan Theater. The program includes  Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 2, Michael Giacchino’s UP, Yokota and Kondo’s Super Mario Galaxy, and John Williams’s E.T.

I’ve been to Pops Orchestra’s last movie-themed concert, and it was such a cute event. Pops Orchestra entertained the audience with humorous movies they have filmed themselves to accompany the music, and the music they chose were the ones that both classic-lovers and non-classic lovers could enjoy. Above all that, it was a local and heart-warming event comprised of Orchestra members and their family and friends. I’m expecting that this concert will also carry a similar warmth, so I’m excited about it.

Students with Passport to the Arts can get free entry! More information about where to find the Passport to the Arts can be found here.

More information about the event can be found here.

PREVIEW: Groove Robs The Louvre: A Percussive Heist

A great beat and an action-packed story of a heist have a commonality – it brings the thrill to the listener.

This combination, already promising excitement by the choice of word combination itself, will be performed as a percussion/dance show at the Michigan Theater, this Friday, April 1st, at 7:30 PM. The performance is designed by U of M’s student percussion-and-dance group, Groove. They have proudly stated that this show will be their “most action-packed, drum-tacular performance yet“. I’ve been to some of their shows, and they truly put the listener into a trance when they beat their non-traditional instruments-on the events that I attended, they used buckets, garbage cans, and metal drum cans. I’m really excited to check out how they had integrated their amazing beat with a thrilling story. Plus, It’ll be April fool’s day. I don’t mind getting tongue-tied at some great beats!

U of M students could get free entry to the show when they have a Passport to the Arts. Where to find them can be found in this link.

PREVIEW: It’s TAPpening

The last time I saw It’s TAPpening, the winter showcase from the RhythM Tap Ensemble, my review included quite possibly the worst lede I have ever written. Included here for posterity:

“That tappened. And it was, well, fanTAPstic.”

And though my puns were terrible, I enjoyed the 2018 show and it stuck with me. RhythM is the only group of its kind on campus; a dance company that focuses specifically on tap. While there are several contemporary, jazz and hip-hop troupes, RhythM is one of a kind.

So when I saw that RhythM was having its winter show this week, there was no question that I wanted to go.

If you’ve never seen a tap show, it’s a rhythmic, energetic and highly technical style of dance. While other types of dance emphasize primarily aesthetics, tap combines that with the sound of the taps on the shoes and how those sounds fit with the music. Though tap dancing is typically associated with Broadway musicals and old-time jazz standards, the last time I saw RhythM, they performed most of their numbers to current pop songs, with a few twists. You can watch videos of RhythM’s previous performances on their YouTube channel.

If you’re looking for a high-energy dance performance that showcases impressive musicality, rhythm and style — and a show you won’t see anywhere else — It’s TAPpening is for you.

It’s TAPpening is on Friday, January 24 at 7 p.m. at the Mendelssohn Theatre at the Michigan League. Tickets can be purchased online at $5 for students and $10 for nonstudents. The event is free with a Passport to the Arts. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

PREVIEW: Tigers Are Not Afraid

With Halloween well upon us, we have descended into scary movie season. While horror isn’t for everyone, there’s something about the graying skies and the melancholy cold that brings out at least a little bit of enjoyable frightfulness in us all.

For lovers and haters of horror alike, Tigers Are Not Afraid is a must-see movie. In it, a ghost haunting is shown from the perspective of a 10-year-old child. Part fantasy fairytale and part creepy supernaturalism, Issa Lopez’s film will amaze everyone in the audience.

There are several showtimes available at the Michigan Theater in the coming days:

Wednesday, October 9: 5:00, 7:30, 9:55 PM

Thursday, October 10: 7:30, 9:55 PM

Monday, October 14: 12 AM

Hope to see you there! Wear something spooky…