Campus Culture, A to Z

Think the only entertainment in the District occurs during a political scandal or election season? Not quite. The city is booming with an array of arts and entertainment that will be sure to keep you singing, laughing or dancing throughout the next four years. From A to Z, take a look:

A cappella:
Emocapella, The Pitches, The Sirens, Sons of Pitch, The Troubadours, and The GW Vibes are a staple on the campus art scene, turning a cappella into a can’t miss performance. Each group has a different feel and style, but all are sure to entertain. If you think you can belt your way to the top, or know how to compose a perfect song arrangement, audition for one of these groups in mid-September. If being in the audience is more your style, look out for monthly performances from each group.

Bhangra Blowout:
This huge dance competition is sponsored each spring by the South Asian Society, and brings ten accomplished collegiate teams from across the country to compete for a cash prize. Thousands of people flock to this event – which has been around for more than a decade – to watch the Northern Indian and Pakistani style of dance.

Capital Funk:
Winners of the 2009 Student Performance Group of the Year, this hip-hop outfit is known on campus for solid and mesmerizing dance performances. Auditions are held in mid-September. If “popping and locking” isn’t your greatest strength, you can sit back and cheer on the 33-member group at many different events on campus throughout the year.

If modern dance is more your thing, the Department of Theatre and Dance puts on two contemporary, original dance showcases each year. Students enrolled in TRDA 182 (Dance Composition) choreograph, cast and direct a piece for the performance. Auditions usually take place the first week of the fall semester. This fall’s DanceWorks will be performed Nov. 19, 20 and 21 in the Betts Theatre in the Marvin Center.

E Street Cinema:
If you prefer “Harold and Maude” over “High School Musical,” this downtown theatre will be your cup of tea. Award-winning independent and foreign films are always on display, and the gourmet snack bar serves coffee and freshly baked cookies.

Freshman Showcase:
Think you’re ready to get on stage? Generic Theatre Company puts on a showcase of talented freshmen every September. Auditions are an open-call, meaning no preparation necessary, and will occur on Sept. 4 and 5. The performances will be on Sept. 24 and 25 in the Lisner Downstage.

The Portrait Gallery, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Make sure you do not come to GW for four years without checking out the world-class museums that are in walking distance of your residence hall.

Every October, girls grab their most revealing lingerie and boys play “Virgin Games.” No, this is not a Saturday night in Thurston – this is Rocky Horror Picture Show. Student theatre group Forbidden Planet Productions puts on this spectacle as a tradition in the Marvin Center’s Grand Ballroom. If you’ve always wanted to play some extreme dress-up, audition in mid-September. The performances are the weekend of Halloween, so plan your trick-or-treating costumes accordingly.

Indie movies:
If you can’t get up the energy to walk to E Street, there are ways to get your independent film fix right on campus. Kino Fist! is a club run by students devoted to free screenings of interesting movies. Also, if you’re taking the University’s courses in Japanese, Russian or German film, you can get credit for being entertained.

Jukebox the Ghost:
Ben, Tommy and Jesse met while students at GW. Now they’ve hit it big as a fun, indie-pop, piano-playing trio. They just finished up a tour around the country and in the United Kingdom with Ben Folds, and usually return to the District every few months to put on a memorable concert.

The Kennedy Center:
This world-renowned theatre offers professional productions, free concerts every day of the year, an incredible brunch menu, and 365-degree views of D.C. It’s right next to the Watergate, so whenever you need a quick art fix, walk down to this cultural behemoth.

The Lisner Downstage:
Student performance groups call this black box theatre home. The entrance is across from J Street, and with only 65 seats available per performance, you will pass people many a weekend night waiting eagerly in line on H Street to get in to see a show.

The Mitchell Theater:
Located on the ground floor of Mitchell Hall (next to 7-Eleven), this hidden theatre is alive with student performances almost every weekend. It is larger than the Downstage and hosts everything from a cappella to creative Christian worship services to musical extravaganzas.

Nine Thirty Club:
Right off the Green Line at the U Street station, this all-ages club welcomes big name musical acts to the District. Lily Allen stopped here on her spring tour, and Peaches, New York Dolls and Sonic Youth are all scheduled to perform this summer.

The University Symphony Orchestra performs three times a year in the Lisner Auditorium. Placement in the group is competitive and by audition only.

Presidential Scholars of the arts:
These kids are being paid to dance, act, play music, design or sing, so meeting a PSA at an art-related event is pretty commonplace. Don’t worry if you aren’t one of them, though. With the small number of scholarship recipients, there are hundreds of other talented performers who are just doing it for fun.

This weekly Hatchet column reviews recently released albums. Wondering if you should download that new Doves album? Take a look at the QuickTakes review and it may help you decide.

For more than 10 years, receSs has been entertaining the GW community with performances of long form improvisation and video productions. Alumni have gone on to become successful actors and comedians. If you think your funny bone is pretty strong, audition to become a member of the troupe in September.

Smith Hall of Art:
This is where classes in art history, sculpture and drawing are located. If you see something crazy that sort of looks like it could be a piece of art in front of the Academic Center, it’s probably a work of Smith students.

Theater Kids:
The Company, Generic Theatre Company, Forbidden Planet Productions, Fourteenth Grade Players, Department of Theatre and Dance. If you guessed there are auditions, rehearsals, performances, showcases, musicals and so many other theatrical endeavors happening nearly every day, you’d be right. Hundreds of students are involved with some sort of theatre-related event on campus, and almost every weekend there is a show going on that is sure to entertain.

U Street:
Take the Green Line to U Street and you will be engulfed in a cultural powerhouse. Once the playground of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, the area between 9th and 16th streets has recently gotten its cred back for being hip. Grab some late-night grub at Busboys and Poets, find hidden vintage steals or designer threads at Junction, or hear up-and-coming music at the Black Cat or DC9.

The Vern:
A student theatre on the Mount Vernon campus, complete with recording and dance studios, is scheduled to open with the new Pelham Hall in Fall 2010. This spot should be an answer to the lack of space for theatre groups. The Vern is located on Foxhall Road in Western D.C. – a whole new neighborhood to explore.

Live and online everyday, this station has a show for every musical taste. It also streams live coverage of men’s and women’s basketball games and has University news updates throughout the day.

X (a cross):
Crosses are at churches. If a friend asks you to come watch them perform at a church in Foggy Bottom, don’t be surprised. Community chapels, such as the Western Presbyterian Church on 24th Street and the United Church on 20th Street, make great venues for many different groups to perform.

As you can tell, arts at GW is run by creative and ambitious students – and if you want to, you can be a part of it. If all else fails, come be a reporter for The Hatchet!

Okay, there isn’t much that begins with Z that’s related to arts at GW, but this is a great movie. Watch it again and again. Then go see some art in the District and have fun!

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