COLLEGE PARK — The University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) held its fifth annual Next Now Fest to bring fine arts to the community on Sept. 7 and 8.
The two-day festival served as the university’s creative welcome back for the Terps community. The event featured over 40 performances and events at the school’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center from dance, music, theater, visual art, comedy and fashion.
“We try to have a really eclectic lineup so that there is really something for everyone to attend,” said Megan Pegado Wells, UMD student and event coordinator. “It’s built on partnerships and student voice so we work with students as much as we can to curate and present performances and market performances at the festival.”
Next Now Fest was started in 2014 when the Clarice and the school’s Artist Partner Program began to feel that their programming had not well served non-performing arts students. To engage those students and bring them into the building, they brought together a variety of performances, events, and classes with the hope of inspiring involvement.
“It’s all about building community through art, and I think the fact that this festival happens at the beginning of the academic year, it helps students create community at the beginning of the year when they might be looking to find their tribe or be looking to engage in a new artistic pursuit, and the festival helps connect those students together,” Pegado Wells said.
The event took place throughout the many theaters and studios inside and outside of the venue.
A spoken word performance and stand up comedy showcase took place in the Kay Theatre. The Alumni Music Commission and the Maryland Community Band performed in the Carfritz Theatre. In the Upper Pavilion, they held a DIY flower station and figure drawing workshop. Outside in the Front Plaza, there was a fashion bus and costume sale.
Different genres of the arts came together in creative ways, such as hip-hop and classical music with a performance by wind quintet Wavelength Winds and D.C. based rapper Konshens the MC.
Next Now Fest featured dance classes such as a contemporary jazz class taught by Suze Creedon, contemporary with Anna Liddle, commercial jazz with Laurie Dodge and hip-hop with Angad Kalsi.
“I’m a hip-hop dancer by trade,” Kalsi said. “I added dance as a major and learned more technique which helped with my hip-hop.”
Kalsi, a senior at UMD who majors in psychology along with dance, had some of his choreography featured in Next Now in the past and was asked to teach this year to a class of about 30 people.
“The creative side of dance is what really appeals to me,” he said. “I had a piece in Next Now, so that idea of creating work that has a message tied into it and being able to give that out to the public is probably my ultimate goal with dance. Teaching is something that’s humbling, and I’m grateful for it but making artwork is probably my primary focus.”
In addition to dance classes, there were live dance shows. The Next Dance performance, put on by UMD’s School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, took place on both nights of the festival featuring four graduate and undergraduate student dances.
The fifth performance of Next Dance was put on by the 2018 Alumni Dance Commission choreographed by Chelsea Boyd Brown who graduated from UMD in 2016. Brown, a dancer, teacher, choreographer and activist who now lives in San Francisco, choreographed a dance called “Bio-Mimic-Cry” performed by herself and six other alumni dancers.
Rock band Den Mate performed in the Grand Pavilion on Saturday night. The band consists of lead singer Jules Hale, guitarist and UMD alumni Jon Weiss, bassist Peter Lillis, guitarist Jonah Wells, and drummer Rick Urby who got involved with Next Now through an intern at their record company, Babe City Records.
“We hit the college circuit,” said Hale. “We tour a lot. We do a lot of east coast tours. We did a U.S. tour last year, and we have a record coming out September 28, and we’re going to be doing a U.S. and Canada tour for that.”
Den Mate will be releasing their album “Loceke” after performing as a band for the last three years. They hope to spread a message of empowerment through their music, especially female empowerment, Hale said.
UMD freshman Chloe Hinson saw Next Now as a way to get acclimated with the school and had a great time.
“I love it,” she said. “I saw the comedy show and Yamazawa. I also saw Soul Rebel and their music was amazing.”
Meanwhile, junior Joy Curtis and her friend Jessica Zak had a lot of fun going to the different performances, listening to the music and showing off the flower crowns they made at the DIY flower crown-making station.
“I’ve never been to the festival,” Zak said. “It’s really chill, and it’s great to see people being creative.”