Festival of the Arts thrives at off-campus event

Students' fashion, art and music draw sizable crowd to Taphouse

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Singing

Jon Purdy

Cleavage and popped collars were replaced by acoustic guitars and canvas paintings Tuesday night at The London Taphouse.

Part of Western’s Festival of the Arts week, the event, “Fashion Style Expression: Night of the Arts,” featured musicians, dancers, original student fashion designers and artists.

A small stage was placed on the bar’s dance floor. Upstairs, candles surrounded student artwork and photography.

“I think having it at a venue like the Taphouse, [with people] who are aware of the Western community, we got people out who normally wouldn’t go to an arts event,” said FOA commissioner Amanda Portinari.

“The Taphouse is a good venue,” said Lindsay Forslund, the event’s co-ordinator. “It has a very relaxing atmosphere and it’s a more comfortable environment for all of us.”

James Arthurs, winner of Monday night’s FOA singer/songwriter competition, kicked off the night with his smooth vocals and acoustic cover songs. Darelle London, a sweet-sounding singer/keyboardist and the competition’s runner-up, performed next.

“It was encouraging to have people come out to these events,” Forslund said. “Usually Western gets stereotyped into being a particular ‘type’ of school, but [these events] really showed how talented people in London really are.”

Hip-hop dancers from the Huron Heat Team were next. They spiced up the evening with a solid performance, which was followed up by a fashion show.

Third-year Fanshawe fashion designer Michelle Geiger used retro-inspired fabrics for her clothing line, Pixy Couture. Standout pieces included a tight denim skirt with polyester ruffles trimming the bottom lining and her heavily patterned, feminine and backless dresses.

Following the first fashion show segment, contemporary jazz dancer Olivia Garrett showcased her graceful and unique form.

After the fashion show’s second portion, acoustic performers Jason Lim and the celtic-funk trio Good Acoustics entertained the crowd.

“I’m really happy with the turnout,” Forslund said. “Not just from Western, but even people in the community who came, which was what we were aiming for this year.

“We really brainstormed on this event [because] we wanted something both intimate and accommodating and wanted something on display. We had an overwhelming positive response.

“This night was eclectic and really meant to capture a wider crowd. There was a lot of variety and something for everyone, kind of like a mixed bag of arts. It also drew from different social circles.”

Portinari encourages next year’s FOA commissioner to hold a similar event in a popular downtown venue.

“I think this kind of feedback was pointing us in the right direction,” she said. “Things like these work. It just needs to get even bigger.”

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