InterArts Winter Event: Fancy Pants Dance Party

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As I’ve blogged in the past, the InterArts Department encourages its students to study, produce, and celebrate work that crosses disciplines and creates categories for itself. We also throw parties in the same fashion. Case in point? The Fancy Pants Dance Party. Hosted by IMAGe Unit, this performance-art-dance-party-extravaganza went down in the West Loop, where the partygoers were either works-of-art or real-good-times.[flickr id=”6752698695″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

Let me back up. Every year, many InterArts Students in IMAGe Unit plan on going to the College Arts Association (CAA) Conference to network with other collegiate art programs. CAA is in Los Angeles this year, where students can see artist lectures, attend professional workshops, interview for jobs, and enjoy the change in scenery. IMAGe Unit launches a variety of fundraising strategies to supplement the group trip. The Fancy Pants Dance Party is one of those nifty fundraising experiments.

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The concept is simple. People coming to the party need to wear fancy pants. Now, the term Fancy Pants is open to a wide berth of interpretation. Are we talking ironic and ridiculous, or lavish and extravagant? Spandex or suit slacks? Kitsch to the point of trendy, or trendy to point of kitsch? Based on the results, my conclusion is that Fancy is in the eye of the pants-wearer. The surprise of what people wore was what made half the party exciting.

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Performances comprised the other half of the Fancy Pants excitement. Kmang Kmang, a classical guitar band headed by Barmey Ung, played an intimate show with only bass accompaniment at the start of the night. Ung is a composer with Cambodian roots, and he writes songs referencing his culture and other world music traditions. He proved to be a mesmerizing cool period during the party, before the oncoming hours of pulsing music video jams. Plus, note the pants: Ung won second place in the Overall Fanciest Pants competition.

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First-years Penelope Hearne, Chelsey Shilling, and Valentina Vella closed out the performances with a collaborative piece of music and movement. Hearne, a trained dancer and circus performer, spun and twisted on a length of fabric from the ceiling. Acrobatic agility is a vast understatement to the flips and balanced contortions she executed to Shillings’s percussion and Vella’s guitar. Along with her strumming, Vella sang a hypnotic Italian folk song, grounding Hearne’s gravity-defying choreography as a performance from a gypsy caravan around the fire. It was warm, intense, and mesmerizing all at the same time.

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The few, the proud, and the fancy then danced on until the early hours of the morning. As far as experiments go, this IMAGe Unit event can go into the win column for InterArts. Could we make it bigger and better in future iterations? Sure. But the most important aspect of student-run events like Fancy Pants is the bonding outside of class. This is a tight-knit, eclectic group of artists. We want to maintain friendships and make memories outside of school just as much as the work we make and the classes we take at Columbia. That’s the most important thing.

And raising a little money while we’re at it.

…Oh, and one last thing. You’re probably wondering, who won first place with the Fanciest Pants? I’ll tell you, it was this man below. No matter how you define fancy, you have to admit: that is one good-looking pair of pants.

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