Krannert Center anticipates an exciting 2017-2018 season


The Daily Illini File Photo

The Goodwin street entrance of the Krannert Center. Krannert will be hosting a commemorative concert in honor of Project 500 and the alumni who were apart of it.

By Melissa Wagner, Staff writer

Among a unique take on the Beauty and the Beast, a special Japanese floral arrangement exhibition and a contemporary dance piece with an original score by Pharrell Williams, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts offers something for everyone during the 2017-2018 season.

“Every season is a combination of different kinds of artistries and favorite past collaborations,” said Bridget Lee-Calfas, director of advertising and publicity at Krannert Center. “Certainly, we welcome a new selection of artistry to share with our community.”

Main events for Fall 2017 at the Krannert Center include the ELLNORA guitar festival and the Pygmalion music festival.

There are many more performances and exhibitions, both new and returning for the year, which community members will be able to attend. Krannert offers more than 100 programs throughout the year for students, community members and visitors.

The programs are made particularly accessible for University students, who are never required to pay more than $10 for any show or exhibition at Krannert.

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This season marks the 35th anniversary of the Krannert Center Youth Series. Emily Laugesen, program director of the series, explained that the program is a series of performances held during the school day for preschool to high school-aged students.

Laugesen said the program began when the Children’s Theatre Incorporation contacted Krannert about its desire to find a way to consistently present high-quality performing arts to young people in the Central Illinois area.

Many of these performances are supported by classroom activities like artist visits or study guides that allow students to understand the cultural and artistic context.

“With our youth programming, we are specifically looking for artists that take the work of making art for young people as seriously as artists who work for anyone,” Laugesen said. “We like to see artists who are really engaging with the aesthetic intelligence of children, and understand where children are coming from developmentally, and making art that speaks to those different phases of life.”

Paige Hernandez’s “Havana Hop: A Children’s Tale of Culture and Originality” and “Liner Notes” are particularly engaging for kids, given her background in early childhood education. A performance of “Liner Notes” is open to everyone in March.

Laugesen said that Krannert tries really hard to present a wide range of artists and programs that appeal to all interests — from shows more energetic and dramatic, to performances that express more intimate and thoughtful emotions.

According to Lee-Calfas, the same applies to the programming offered to the general public. Past collaborations have become Krannert staples and will continue to return, but there is always room for new and exciting acts from all over the world.

This year’s Opening Night Party in the Krannert Center lobby on Thursday, Sept. 14, celebrates the University’s sesquicentennial anniversary and the beginning of the ELLNORA guitar festival, which occurs every other year. Ellnora and her husband Herman Krannert contributed greatly to the creation of Krannert Center.

“[Ellnora] really wanted people from all walks of life who were interested in all different kinds of music, arts and dance to come together in this big lobby space,” Lee-Calfas said. “It really guides our programming philosophy to this day, so we named the festival in her honor.”

The ELLNORA guitar festival lasts for three days, from Sept. 14-16, and features performances from Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Andy Baylor and more.

Krannert Center also continues its partnership with Pygmalion, a music and arts festival from Sept. 20-24. The center hosts the entire event on Thursday, Sept. 21 with six events, ranging from musicians like Julien Baker and Thundercat to acclaimed author George Saunders.

“The big thing for us is for students to know that Krannert Center is a place for them,” Lee-Calfas said. “Whether it be for a performance or to cheer on their peers, or to come have lunch in the cafe, or to shop in the gift shop, or to just come in the lobby and study and use the free Wi-Fi — we want this to be a place they can come and call home, and a place of pride for them in their U of I journey.”

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