ArtsATL > Art+Design > Augusta’s Westobou, a little fest with a big bang, offers boldfaced talent and worthy surprises

Augusta’s Westobou, a little fest with a big bang, offers boldfaced talent and worthy surprises

Dancers of the L.A. Dance Project Photo by Benjamin Milliepied

Hot off a debut at Los Angeles’ Disney Hall, Benjamin Millepied, the New York City Ballet alum who danced opposite Natalie Portman in “Black Swan,” brings his new company, the L.A Dance Project, to … Augusta?

Dancers of the L.A. Dance Project. (Photo by Benjamin Millepied)

Yes, the L.A Dance Project will perform on Saturday, October 6, at the Westobou Festival, a mini-Spoleto now in its fifth year. The evening will include Millepied’s “Closer,” a 2006 duet to Philip Glass’ “Mad Rush” and “Moving Parts,” a recent premiere set to a score by composer Nico Muhly, in which dancers interact with an installation by artist Christopher Wool. Also on the bill: Merce Cunningham’s 1964 “Winterbranch,” with costumes and lighting that reproduce Robert Rauschenberg’s original designs.

It’s quite a coup for the little engine that could, which runs October 3-7, but hardly Westobou’s only attraction. Notable participants will include singer Janelle Monáe, saxophonist Maceo Parker and Phillippe Petit, who will speak after the screening of “Man on Wire,” the 2008 documentary that immortalized the daring Frenchman’s trip between the twin towers of the World Trade Center on a tightrope in 1974.

Philippe Petit in a still from "Man on Wire."

Also newsworthy is that Westobou has gotten serious about visual arts.

Director Molly McDowell signaled the new priority by appointing a curator to oversee the planning and execution of the wide array of programs. She is Atlanta art dealer Nancy Solomon, who has put together an impressive array of exhibitions encompassing artists she has worked with and those she’s discovered at biennials and art fairs. A few examples:

Stephen Vitiello's "Winds After Hurricane Floyd"

In a bit of synchronicity, the festival will present Stephen Vitiello’s famous “World Trade Center Recordings: Winds After Hurricane Floyd,” which he created in 1999 by recording sounds of the winds and structural creaks heard outside the window of his studio on the 91st floor of the North Tower.

New Orleans-based Jackie Sumell will exhibit “The House That Herman Built,” a project 10 years in the making, which began when she asked Herman Wallace, a Black Panther serving a life sentence in solitary confinement, “What kind of house does a man who has lived in a 6-by-9-foot box for over 30 years dream of?

Janet Biggs’ latest video installation, “A Step on the Sun,” focuses on the travails of sulfur miners who work in Indonesia’s Kawah Ijen volcano and on the bleak beauty of the landscape.

“NOUN: an exhibition of persons, places and things,” a Solomon-curated show offering a contemporary take on portraiture, landscape and still life. Artists include Louise Belcourt, William Christenberry, Holly Coulis, Drew Galloway, Ashley Kauschinger, Vivian Maier, Vee Speers, Katherine Taylor, Dayna Thacker, Vesna Pavlovic and Angela West.

For more information, check out the Westobou website.

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