Community Members Engage in the Arts During Make Music Day Appleton

June 26, 2023

On June 21, community members took part in Make Music Day Appleton, a live, free musical celebration with concerts on streets, sidewalks and parks across the city. This annual event is celebrated across the world as part of Fête de la Musique, a festival held on the summer solstice that takes place in more than 1,000 cities in more than 120 countries. For a day, the longest one of the year, people around the world come together to celebrate music in all its forms, including in Appleton and at your Fox Cities P.A.C.

Across Appleton, the community took part in interactive workshops open to all skill levels from bucket drumming to sing-alongs, from ukulele jam sessions to dance workshops and everything in between. Everyone was encouraged to engage at their comfort level while celebrating the joy and inclusivity of the arts. In the Kimberly-Clark Theater at the Center, people were able to experience various aspects of Indian culture from IndUS of Fox Valley and learn Motown choreography from Brittny Smith (ensemble member) from the touring Broadway production of Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations in a dance workshop.

Exploring the sights and sounds of different aspects of Indian culture, community members were mesmerized by a classic Kathak dance performed by Anindita Neogy Anaam. Moving with fluidity and striking the beat, Anindita showcased traditional Indian movement as well as a modern interpretation. For part of the dance demonstration, she donned small bells (Ghungroo) on her ankles, weighing four pounds each. The bells sounded as she moved, a continuous sound that amplified the beat. Anindita then removed the bells and transitioned into a dance that showcased her flowy skirt. Using her feet against the hardwood floor, Anindita again highlighted the beat throughout the instrumental music.

Turning to the music part of the demonstration, Sutanu Sur and his students played three sets of Indian drums (tabla) and violin. A tabla is a pair of small hand drums, each positioned differently to help create the different sounds a drummer’s hands make when hitting them. Positioning their hands differently to strike the drums, each drummer was able to create at least three different discernible sounds.

Tabla is a language. As the tabla speaks, we speak too. That language is translated into music.
Sutanu Sur - musician

The juxtaposition of the percussiveness of the tabla and the melodic sounds of the violin worked well, especially with the tempo changes. At times, their hands moved so quickly on the tabla that they were a blur. When the audience applauded, they were left speechless, impressed by the virtuosity of these musicians.

Closing out IndUS of Fox Valley’s demonstration of various parts of Indian culture, Mahima Grover and ensemble performed a Bollywood medley. Familiar to many, Bollywood is Indian cinema well known for its musical sequences. It is about the contemporary, drawing inspiration from traditional elements of Indian music and dance as well as many genres including pop, rock, classical, rap and more. This was evident in the dancing performed and the music through the speakers. Each dance featured a change in wardrobe as well as a different style of modernized dance with an infectious rhythm. The community members watching could not get enough, and they clapped along to the beats during this high-energy medley.

I love that the Fox Cities P.A.C. takes part in this. Seeing the Bollywood performance was so cool!
Debra - Make Music Day Appleton 2023 attendee

Following IndUS of Fox Valley’s demonstration, community members joined ensemble member, Brittny Smith from the touring Broadway production of Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations in a dance workshop during the show’s run June 20-25 at the Center. Brittny has been a part of touring Broadway for 11 years, playing different roles across various shows. She has been touring with Ain’t Too Proud since 2021.

People of all ages, abilities, backgrounds and skill levels joined Brittny center stage and learned several measures of Motown choreography from one of the show’s numbers. Moving through the choreography at a comfortable pace, everyone was given a chance to perform as if they were in the show. After finishing the dance portion of the workshop, the floor was open to ask Brittny any questions. The community was eager to learn about Brittny’s career, her favorite shows and what challenges she’s faced as a touring professional. Having the rare opportunity to talk to and receive dance instruction from a Broadway performer, the attendees loved the workshop and Brittny’s ability to be personable and make everyone feel comfortable.

Overall, Make Music Day Appleton 2023 was a success, proving the importance of providing free opportunities for the community to learn and engage in the arts to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of their lives.

Written by Philomena Dorobek, Brand Storyteller
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center