Why This Matters: The annual celebration of arts and literature, presented by Central Piedmont Community College, provides Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents and visitors with 10 days to experience mostly free cultural events.
By Bernie Petit
Let’s start with the really big news first: American genius George Saunders is coming to Sensoria, the 10-day celebration of arts and literature presented by Central Piedmont Community College from March 31 – April 9.
Saunders is one of the most recognized and significant contemporary writers in the U.S. The recipient of a 2006 MacArthur Foundation Genius grant, Saunders was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by “Time Magazine” in 2013.
He will speak twice on April 5:
- At a presentation on kindness at Halton Theater at 10:30 a.m.; and
- At a reading and discussion of his 2017 “New York Times” bestselling novel “Lincoln in the Bardo” at Pease Auditorium at 8 p.m.
Saunder’s talks highlight CPCC’s 25th year of literary events. But there are also nearly 90 other events taking place on multiple campuses.
That means there’s a lot to be excited about during Sensoria 2017. Here’s a look at six more happenings we’re looking forward to.
- “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” March 31-April 9. Set during a tense recording session in Chicago’s South Side, this play by August Wilson exposes the exploitation of African-American musicians and depicts the psychological consequences of their struggles for economic and artistic self-determination in the face of racism and a shifting marketplace. It is directed by CPCC instructor Corlis Hayes, who has directed three of the other 10 plays of Wilson’s Century Cycle – which chronicles the African-American experience through the 20th century – during Sensoria festivals in recent years.
- “Red, Black & Brown: A Celebration of the Cultural Contributions of Native, Black, and Latino Americans,” April 3. A Sign of the Times, led by 2016 ASC Honors recipient Tyrone Jefferson, preserves “the legacy of the African Diaspora through music, dance and the spoken word.” In this performance, the group explores the vibrant connections between red, black and brown folks through music, dance and stories.
- Graffiti with DeNeer Davis, April 4. Artist DeNeer Davis will present a participatory demonstration of the rich art of spray-painted graffiti. Break dancers from Nouveau Sudsocial circus, assembled by 2016 ASC McColl Award winner CarlosAlexis Cruz, join in to bring energy, movement and more street artistry.
- “We See Heaven Upside Down,” April 6. The multi-disciplinary exhibition that responds to the challenges concerning mass migration, displacement and identity is the result of a collaboration between MyLoan Dinh and Lee Baumgarten, both of whom have received ASC Regional Artist Project Grants. Opening night festivities include an artist talk and performance by Moving Poets and an opening reception.
- Paul Taylor Dance Company, April 7-8. The performances by American modern dance pioneer Paul Taylor’s troupe are the culmination of a year-long collaboration between CPCC, UNC Charlotte and Charlotte Ballet, with support from Wells Fargo. The first half of this collaboration, in 2016, was highlighted by the reconstruction of the lost Paul Taylor work “Tracer” by UNCC faculty member (and 2016 ASC Regional Artist Project Grant recipient) Kim Jones.
- “Once in a Lifetime,” April 9. In the film, based on a true story, a veteran teacher challenges her apathetic classroom with a unique assignment: Enter a national competition on the theme of child victims of the Nazi concentration camps. It is presented by Charlotte Jewish Film Festival, which received a Cultural Vision Grant from ASC in February to support experiences that engage diverse, non-Jewish audiences with the universally appealing stories, characters and themes shared through the film festival.
Don’t Miss Sensoria!
The annual celebration of arts and literature takes place March 31 – April 9, 2017 on multiple campuses of Central Piedmont Community College. Admission to most events is free. For more information, check out the full schedule.