What do you call it when belly dancing meets Bollywood dancing? The answer is "bellywood." And the Bellywood Superstars will open the 20th season of the Banners Cultural Series at McNeese State University.
"We truly try to have something for everyone," said Mary Richardson, director of the series. "The performances are selected by the Banners Committee, and committee members represent a great many segments of our community. The committee's diversity is reflected in our season, and I personally think it is one of our greatest strengths."
She said the beginning and ending of the series illustrate that diversity. "We will start with an extravaganza with scant costumes and lots of dancing, and we end with a puppet show for children," she said. "In between there will be classical music, jazz, world music, roots music, lectures and more."
The Banners Series is supported by membership fees, corporate sponsors and grants. Information about joining is available on the website at www.banners.org or by calling the Banners Series office at 337-475-5123.
A basic membership, which includes two tickets to all performances and invitations to special receptions, is available for $150. Friend memberships, which include four tickets to all events, are $250. Patron memberships, which include six tickets, are $500. All membership levels include reserved seating areas. Tickets to individual performances will be available at the door at $20 for adults, $5 for students and free to McNeese students with IDs. Lectures are open and free to the public.
Corporate sponsors, which pick up more than 50 percent of the cost of the series, include CITGO, the Isle of Capri, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Chase, ConocoPhillips, PPG, SWLA Convention & Visitor's Bureau, Entergy, city of Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Empire of the Seed, Hoffoss & Devall Law Firm, West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital Foundation, Union Pacific Railroad, Jeff Davis Bank & Trust Co., Stockwell Sievert Law Firm, AT&T, Bolton Ford, AT&T Real Yellow Pages, Fuerst Law Firm, Southwest Beverage Co. Inc., Southern Sound Systems Inc., State Farm Insurance Co., Turner Industries, Louisiana Swashbucklers, Domino's Pizza, Lake Charles Pre-Sort, Knight Media Inc., KPLC-TV, Ranier Law Firm, Sasol North America, Louisiana Lottery, The Stream Family, Sweets & Treats, Dr. & Mrs. A.T. Ordinario Jr., First Federal Bank of Louisiana, Greg David's Frameworks and Paradise Florist.
Events scheduled to date are listed below. Times, dates and especially locations are still subject to change. Updates will be posted online at www.banners.org. A synopsis of the Banners lectures will also be posted on the website in the early fall.
To receive a printed brochure, contact the Banners Series office through the website or at 337-475-5123.
"Bombay Bellywood" by the Bellywood Superstars: Feb. 26, Rosa Hart Theatre,
These dancers are not purists - and proud of it. The show merges traditional and tribal belly dancing with Indian dance styles. The result is an extravaganza rich in costuming (warning: some costuming is scanty!) with exciting, infectious music.
"Rice Family Secrets: Vampires, New Orleans and Costume Balls," a lecture by Christopher Rice: Feb. 28, Ralph Squires Auditorium, 7 p.m.
Author Christopher Rice will share stories about growing up with a famous mother in New Orleans.
MozARTS: March 4, F.G. Bulber Auditorium, 3 p.m.
Members of the MozART quartet love classical music and they love laughter. Their concerts evoke the spirit of Victor Borge. In their own words: "We exist despite the sober formality of great concert halls, despite the boredom of classical musicians' life, despite fanatic lovers of classical music, despite fans of rock, rap or pop who are afraid of classical music. We treat our muse with a humorous irony, and we're sure she will have nothing against it!" MozART group
A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra: March 9, F.G. Bulber Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.
Founded in 2007, these 17 young musicians are bent on making music according to their own rule and are a far cry away from ordinary chamber orchestras. Everything is up for interpretation - including the way the group prepares, performs and experiences classical music. They are the Chamber Orchestra in Residence at Boston's Gardner Museum. The concert will include music by Schmelzer, Respighi, Beethoven and Britten. "The orchestra brims with personality or, better, personalities… passionate involvement…a sensation jam." New York Times
"When Religion Becomes Lethal," a lecture by Dr. Charles A. Kimball: March 13, Parra Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Dr. Charles Kimball will give his second lecture for the Banners Series. The first was "When Religion Becomes Evil." He has continued to work on issues related to Islam, the Middle East and Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, and has just published his follow-up book, "When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity and Islam." He is the head of the Religious Studies Program at Oklahoma University.
Rhythmic Circus in "Feet Don't Fail Me Now": March 17, F.G. Bulber Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.
Rhythmic Circus is back for a command performance after giving the all-time favorite performance in 19 years of Banners Series history last spring. See the dance troupe that has become an underground percussive-dance phenomenon, backed by a funky seven-piece band.
Samite: A Trio with the Soul of Africa: March 24, Shearman Fine Arts Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Joseph Shabalala, founder and leader of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, said, "When you hear the music of Samite, the soul of Africa is revealed to you." Samite Mulondo gave a memorable concert to a small audience for the Banners Series following Hurricane Rita. We're finally getting him back to Lake Charles to give the gift of his voice to a larger audience. A refugee from Uganda, Samite sings about his difficult and inspiring tale with grace, warmth and wit. He sings in a bright, sweet tenor, often accompanied by thumb pianos (kalimba), flute, guitar, marimba and percussion instruments.
John Pizzarelli Jazz Quartet: April 13, F.G. Bulber Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.
Jazz guitarist, vocalist and bandleader, John Pizzarelli, has had a multi-faceted career. He is internationally known for classic standards, late-night ballads and the cool jazz flavor he bring to his performances and recordings. He is also among the prime contemporary interpreters of the great American songbook. His latest release, "Rockin' in Rhythm," brings his signature style and brilliant guitar playing to the music of Duke Ellington.
"25 Million Miles in Orbit - An Unforgettable Space Story," a lecture by Story Musgrave: April 17, F.G. Bulber Auditorium, 7 p.m.
Pilot, surgeon, mechanic, poet and philosopher Story Musgrave is the only person to have flown on all five space shuttles. He is one of NASA's most colorful, dedicated and passionate astronauts, plus he fixed the Hubble space telescope. He is also a speaker who weaves a thought-provoking program with stunning photos from space. He will leave you spellbound with possibilities.
"Circus Incognitus" with Jamie Adkins: April 21, Rosa Hart Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Jamie Adkins has a stellar clown pedigree. He was a featured soloist at Cirque du Soleil for Montreal's Cirque E'loize. And he received both a bronze medal and the Annie Fratellinni Clown Prize at the Festival International du Cirque Demain in Paris
Now he's developed a one-man show, "Circus Incognitus," and it's very funny. His clowning and acrobatic feats on the ground and on a slack wire bring life to the story of a man who has something to say, but can't quite get it out. Warning: the show involves fruit. It may (read "will") get messy.
"He Said - She Said," the blues of Peter Karp & Sue Foley: April 27, F.G. Bulber Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.
"He Said - She Said" is blues at its best -- moving, literate, romantic, rocking and exciting! The project is based around letters Peter Karp and Sue Foley wrote to each other over the period of a year. The letters started as a casual exchange between two committed performers sharing their common bond of the loneliness of the road, the pain of separation from family and home, and above all, the drive to make music. As time went on the letters became more poignant and more revealing. The final result of "He Said - She Said" is just plain great music!
"Masked Marvels & Wondertales" with Michael Cooper: May 12, Shearman Fine Arts Theatre, 4 p.m.
Breathtaking handcrafted masks made by Michael Cooper -- student of Etienne Decroux, Paris' master of mime, and protégé of Tony Montanaro, theatrical genius -- are used to tell his original stories of courage and wonder. And he combines these stories with outlandish stilt dancing and a physical repertoire that ranges from the madcap to the sublime. A mask workshop will precede the show.
"Tradition and Creativity: From Louisiana Creole Expressive Culture to 'American Routes,'" a lecture by Nick Spitzer, date and place TBA
Nick Spitzer, host of the popular public radio show, "American Routes," will talk about what he learned doing field work in the Creole communities of southwestern Louisiana and how that knowledge influenced the creation of "American Routes" and its eclectic balance of tradition and improvisation.