“Become More: Campaign for the Future of Holy Cross” will kick off with a weekend of celebrations, headlined by international dance phenomenon Lil Buck on April 29 in the Dinand Library Main Reading Room at 8 p.m. The special collaboration, titled “A Jookin’ Jam Session with Lil Buck, Cristina Pato & Friends,” will bring together Lil Buck’s signature jookin’, a street dance born in Memphis, with an outstanding cast of musicians, including world-renowned Galician gaita player and Holy Cross’ former Arts Transcending Borders (ATB) artist-in-residence, Cristina Pato. The performance is the latest in a series of collaborative works created by New York City Ballet principle dancer turned director Damian Woetzel. Students from the College’s Fusion Hip-Hop Team will also be featured.
The event is free and open to the public, and coffee and dessert will be served on the Hogan Oval before the performance in Dinand. A capacity audience is expected for this event; RSVP is recommended.
Lil Buck began jookin’ at age 13 in his hometown of Memphis, where he also received hip-hop and ballet training. This diverse foundation informed his style of jookin,’ which is characterized by its fluidity and footwork. Hailed by The New York Times for his ability to “skate in sneakers, flouting laws of gravity and anatomy,” Lil Buck is known for pushing boundaries, often appearing to be floating in slow motion.
He came to international attention in 2011 when Woetzel paired the young dancer with cellist Yo-Yo Ma—the first of many collaborations—to perform a jookin’ version of Saint-Saens’ “The Swan.” The interpretive performance, which was captured on video by director Spike Jonze, went viral, reaching a million views within weeks.
This success opened the door to future collaborations with a broad range of internationally renowned artists, from Janelle Monáe to French artist JR to the New York City Ballet. He has performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, with Madonna during her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show and on her MDNA and Rebel Hears tours, in the Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson: One” show, and the Spike Jonze film “Her.” He was chosen as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2012, is an Aspen Institute Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence, and was named the Wall Street Journal’s 2014 Performing Arts Innovator.
Additionally, Lil Buck was the 2011 artist-in-residence at the Vail International Dance Festival and served as an artistic ambassador alongside Yo-Yo Ma at the U.S.-China Forum on the Arts and Culture in Beijing that year. In 2013, he starred in the award-winning show, “Lil Buck @ (le) Poisson Rouge,” which was directed by Woetzel and featured Ma and an assortment of international musicians.
Woetzel, who is currently the artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival and the director of arts programs for the Aspen Institute, transitioned from principle ballet dancer to respected director, choreographer, and producer. In 2013, Woetzel was dubbed “the matchmaker” by The New York Times, earning the title and growing acclaim for creating unusual combinations of music, dance, and theatre, often engaging with the world of ideas. He is currently curating and hosting “DEMO,” a series of performances uniting different artists around a common theme.
The performance at Holy Cross is a continuation of this artistic collaboration, Lil Buck and Cristina Pato having previously performed in Woetzel’s “DEMO” series.
Cristina Pato, a Galician bagpiper, pianist and educator, was ATB’s 2014-15 artist-in-residence. Pato has devoted her professional career to Galician popular and classical music and jazz, performing on major stages throughout Europe, the U.S., India, Africa, and China. Pato was the first female gaita player to release a solo album (1999) and has since collaborated on world stages with Yo-Yo Ma, Arturo O’Farril, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Osvaldo Golijov, renowned composer and Loyola Professor of Music at Holy Cross. She is also a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.
“After seeing a video of Lil Buck dancing with Cristina Pato playing gaita and piano at the Vail International Dance Festival, a performance they closely collaborated on with Damian Woetzel, I was smitten and have been eager to have them perform at Holy Cross ever since,” says Lynn Kremer, director of ATB and professor of theatre at Holy Cross. “These artists bridge genres, languages, and generations. ATB is committed to cross-disciplinary collaborative work, and these artists are the perfect embodiment of that idea.”
The College’s ATB initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to enhance the role of the arts in every aspect of the Holy Cross experience by infusing the arts into students’ academic lives and creating new opportunities throughout the curriculum and the community to cross cultural, geographic, and disciplinary boundaries.
This collaborative performance at Holy Cross is the headlining event for the College’s campaign kickoff celebrations. With a fundraising goal of $400 million by June 30, 2020, “Become More: Campaign for the Future of Holy Cross,” is the most ambitious, comprehensive fundraising campaign in the history of our College. This campaign will transform the College in a way that meets the needs of both our community and the world at large, while ensuring Holy Cross is recognized as both the premier Catholic college and one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation.
“A Jookin’ Jam Session with Lil Buck, Cristina Pato & Friends” is cosponsored by Arts Transcending Borders and the Office of Advancement, and is in conjunction with the 2016 Academic Conference.
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