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Semester in preview: local arts events to look forward to

Your guide to the best upcoming arts events in Charlottesville

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The Charlottesville creative community is back in business, with concerts, art exhibitions and events galore to keep students and community members entertained throughout the coming months. From dancing to jazz to electric alt-rock performances, the spring semester is sure to be one to remember. 

First up is the upcoming Salsa Fest at the Dairy Market’s Brick Cellar Event Space Feb. 26. Though the prospect of dancing in front of strangers may seem daunting, the day of dance is meant for salsa pros and beginners alike. 

As for students, dancing can be an ideal activity to relieve academic stress and unwind while maybe trying a new activity for the first time. Getting to know other salsa enthusiasts and lovers of dance presents a wonderful way to connect to the Charlottesville community.

Up next is the continuation of the University’s Chamber Music Series, with performance dates on Feb. 27, March 27 and April 10. The series began in the fall semester with a chamber music performance — classical music composed for smaller groups of instruments to highlight individual musicians. 

As the series moves into the spring, the event will provide University students and faculty an opportunity to experience both new and traditional works. Even those new to chamber music should leave with a newfound appreciation for the craft. 

Those interested in new musical experiences might also attend the alt-rock band Rainbow Kitten Surprise at Ting Pavilion April 24 for an outdoor evening of music. Founded in 2013, the band specializes in intoxicating melodies, high energy and dynamic vocals. 

Fans may hope to hear hits like “It’s Called: Freefall,” which gained recent popularity on TikTok, as well as “Devil Like Me” and “Cocaine Jesus.” Rainbow Kitten Surprise’ southern influence and flair are sure to read well with local audiences, and their ability to command a crowd will be much appreciated by attendees. 

Of course, music is not the only avenue for creative expression that Charlottesville is concerned with — at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, three exhibitions of Aboriginal art remind both students and locals of how important it is to learn about and understand cross-cultural experiences. The first part of the collection closes Feb. 27, and the second will begin March 17. 

“50 Years of Papunya Tula Artists” – the first exhibit – delves into paintings created by Aboriginal people from the town of Papunya, Australia that represent their ancestral customs. 

The second, “Boomalli Prints and Paper” seeks to demonstrate an artistic tradition that is both Aboriginal and contemporary, as artists have created digital renderings of the Boomalli group’s paintings and prints with traditional inspiration. Lastly, “Madayin” follows a tradition of Aboriginal bark painting with more than 90 pieces on exhibition. 

The Jefferson Theater will be giving a very warm welcome to revolutionary R&B artist Leon Bridges and opening performer Chiiild May 11. Bridges — who won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance — is known for his smooth, romantic vocals and neo-soul style beats. Though his discography varies from album to album, his ability to create tangible feelings of romance and longing is alluring. 

Finally, the University Department of Music will host attendees for Jazz in the Amphitheater May 4, where small jazz groups ranging in both size and skill-level will perform. All groups are taught by distinguished jazz faculty members Pete Spaar, Jeff Decker and Mike Rosensky. The Department of Music invites students to bring a picnic and friends for an afternoon of music and excitement. Best of all, the concert is completely free, so students do not have to worry about breaking the bank to attend. 

A new semester is afoot, as is a new year. With lively events like these, 2022 should be one of new experiences, music and art. Be sure to grab tickets soon and enjoy!