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Midwest Mandeng 2014 happening in Urbana September 12-14

Midwest Mandeng Celebrates West African Drum and Dance September 12-14 in Urbana

Urbana, IL—Brace yourselves Central Illinois for the first ever Midwest Mandeng— Urbana’s first ever West African drum and dance festival happening this September 12-14 in the heart of downtown Urbana at the historic Urbana Landmark Hotel. The festival, which received seed funding from the Urbana Public Arts Program, will include drum and dance workshops, a demonstration geared towards kids, an African marketplace, an Afro-pop concert and an open dance party.

Visiting dance masters Youssouf Koumbassa and Djeneba Sako will join local talent and festival Creative Director, Djibril Camara, to teach a total of nine dance workshops which will include dances from Guinea and Mali. Drum masters include former Champaign-Urbana resident and Robert E. Brown Center for World Music affiliate Bolokada Conde, as well as Moussa Traore, Abbas Camara and Assane Seck. The nine drum workshops will include rhythms from Guinea, Mali and Senegal.

The drum and dance workshops will be open to people of all ages, sizes, experience, and fitness levels, with a few options geared specifically towards beginner and/or advanced students. Work exchange options are available for low-income people, and we have student rates available as well. Children under 13 who are accompanying a registered adult and senior citizens 65+ may participate for free.

In addition to the workshops, there will be a demonstration and Q&A on Friday, September 12th at 4:15 p.m. at the Urbana Free Library featuring some of our visiting artists. Then on Saturday, September 13th we will have a performance by local Afro-pop band, Super Mazumzum followed by a “dundunba party”, an open dance party with live West African drumming. The Super Mazumzum performance and “dundunba party” will take place at Black Rock Pizza in the Lincoln Square Mall. There will be a $5 cover charge for attendees who did not already purchase a festival pass. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

For more information about registration, the schedule and our many generous sponsors, please visit our website at www.cuwaddc.weebly.com.


Unit 4 Schools releases Champaign schools alumni video

Check out the video below, recently released by Unit 4 Schools celebrating the beginning of another school year starting up.

Here's the information from the release:
This year, our Unit 4 alumni helped us kick off the 2014-2015 school year and let our staff know their work is appreciated!
We asked our alumni to tell us about their favorite school memories and who the faculty and staff members were who truly made an impact on their lives. Thank you to all of our graduates who participated!

Celebration Company awards three scholarships to local actors

From a Station Theatre press release:

Celebration Company Awards Three Scholarships to Local Actors
Annual scholarships awarded to multifaceted, motivated young talent

(Urbana, IL) – The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre announced the recipients of three scholarship awards at their annual banquet, held in August at The Great Impasta. The Virginia Roesch Scholarships are established by her family in loving memory of Virginia Roesch, a regular patron of the Station Theatre for many years. The $500 scholarships were awarded to Stefanie Senior and Max Keagle.

Stefanie is a University Laboratory High School graduate who is now pursuing a degree in arts administration at Illinois State University. She worked on many shows at Uni and Parkland Theatre and now, both onstage and off, at the Station. She was last seen onstage as Cheryl in last season’s Good Boys and True and offstage as the assistant director for Orphans.

Max Keagle grew up coming to see shows at the Station and is the son and grandson of Company members. Like Stefanie, Max began doing theatre in earnest in high school, under the direction of LaDonna Wilson at Champaign Central. Max was a member of the cast of the Station’s world premiere production of My Ántonia and a part of the Celebration Company ensemble performances of Mark Twain’s My Books Are Like Water. He then gained admission to the theatre and dance programs at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, where he was awarded a scholarship as the outstanding incoming freshmen in acting.

The 2014 Danny Sullivan scholarship was awarded to Sydney Germaine Hastings in honor of the late Danny Sullivan, a beloved company member who passed away in 2010. Sydney is a student who studies theatre at the University of Illinois, but pursues a variety of other artistic pursuits in tandem, such as creating art and training in trapeze and aerial silks, studying different languages, and pursuing volunteer work that fights “isms”, such as racism, sexism, and ableism. Sydney currently works as a curator and barista and is an intern at the LGBT RC on campus. They will appear in Krannert’s upcoming production of Oh What a Lovely War and will travel to Indonesia to study Balinese dance, culture, and mask-carving in January 2015.

The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre embarks on Season 43 with a production of A Kid Like Jake by Daniel Pearle, directed by Katie Baldwin Prosise. The production will run October 2 through 18, 2014. For more information about the Celebration Company or their upcoming season, visit stationtheatre.com.


Matthew Duco steps down as Don Gerard’s campaign manager

In an interesting turn of events, Mayor Don Gerard's campaign manager, Matthew Duco, as stepped down. Here's an official statement from Gerard:

Matthew Duco has stepped down as my campaign manager as we agreed it was important he focus his time, talents and expertise on voter protection issues. We also feel local, state and national candidates need his support for the November elections. Duco has been a good friend, an inspiration with regards to his keen political strategy acumen and has done an outstanding job helping to get my re-election campaign up and running. I look forward to his much-appreciated continued support in 2015.

Duco recently appeared on SP Radio to discuss the campaign, which you can hear for yourself here. Interestingly enough, the News-Gazette had some criticism of the mayoral campaign cycle on Sunday.


Illini football sings a victory song

I saw this happen after the game today and thought it was, well, sweet. During the game both the football team and the band perform but rarely do they interact. I liked this because they stood there, looked at each other, and sang together. It was like "we did it, together."


WCIA’s Maggie Hockenberry is the most badass reporter in town

Last weekend, newbie reporter for WCIA Maggie Hockenberry visited the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival on Friday night, long before anyone had actually come out to explore all of the fun and eat all of the corn, and reported back to the news desk a lot of things that were... well, just a bit awkward. 

We saw that, too. And so I posted it, just because it was worth a laugh. Most people agreed, some thought we were taking a cheap shot, but as we stated in our addendum, we felt like she could take it. After all, WCIA is a professional news station, and reporters make flubs, and get back up to report the next day. 

Then, Deadspin reported on it after we tipped them off. From there, Jimmy Kimmel used it in his monologue, and well, for one small moment, Urbana, Ill was both embarrassed and tickled by the attention. 

And here now, this weekend, Hoopeston, Ill. is hosting the original National Sweetcorn Festival and sure enough, as we expected, local badass reporter Maggie Hockenberry was on site, and there to report. 

Three HUGE cheers, Maggie.
We genuinely think you are awesome. And please — take a big bite, and then another, and another. It's Central Illinois, and UIUC actually developed sweetcorn by making one strain of sweetcorn have sex with another strain of sweetcorn. That's a fact. 

Urbana Business Association thanks C-U

Putting on an event the size of the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival is no small feat and it couldn’t be done without the help of hundreds of volunteers. Our community is incredible when it comes to giving of their time. And this past weekend was no exception. Around 600 people came out to help with the corn cooking and serving, beer and margarita stands, ticket sales, recycling, sanitation crew, ice deliveries, and even photo opportunities with Corny the mascot. The Urbana Business Association staff is truly thankful for all of our volunteers and we would like to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you!! We couldn’t have done it without you!

Are you looking for more volunteer opportunities throughout the community? Consider signing on to help with these great events:

International Beer Tasting & Food Truck Showcase – September 13
Contact BeerTasting@jaytv.com
For more information visit www.jaytv.com/beer-chili-foodtruck

American Cancer Society Making Strides Walk – October 18
Contact ChampaignILStrides@cancer.org
For more information visit www.makingstrideswalk.org/champaignil

We look forward to seeing you again next year!!