The CALA-bash stories unfold

By: Various
Mar 31, 2016
James Carter Performing at Claflin Cala-bash
James Carter performs. (Panther photo by Jordan Geddis)

An explosion of diversity

Claflin students are enjoying the 17th year of a tradition that focuses on the arts.
From April 4-10, Claflin holds CALA-bash, Claflin’s Arts & Letters Annual Bash. Each event features students either participating or watching a guest performer or speaker.
“Claflin University is filled with such a positive vibe and atmosphere. It’s a lot different from what I expected it to be,” one student says.
On opening day, Paint Night Out was held at 6 p.m. in Layman Hall rooms 204 & 208. Children and parents were welcomed to paint and make masterpieces of their own.
CALA-bash events bring the community of Orangeburg a step closer to Claflin by reaching children and adults who may have never set foot on a college campus.
The final event of opening day was DANCE FLICKS featuring Pulse Dance Company at 7:30 p.m. in the W.V. Middleton Auditorium. All seats were filled.
Pulse has a unique background with a mix of Claflin students as well as South Carolina State University students. Many different dance styles are featured.
CALA-bash is under the direction of Annette Grevious, who is chair of the CALA-Bash Planning Committee and associate professor in Claflin’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

‘Hey let’s do dance flicks’

The one and only Pulse Dance Company put on a show Monday night with Dance Flicks featuring techniques from ballet to hip hop.
Pulse had the crowd standing and cheering with each segment. Each dance flick was based on movies and shows: Fame, Stomp the Yard and Step Up 2 to name a few.
Michael Alston is a senior and Male Hip Hop Dance Captain for Pulse. He answers some questions:

QUESTION:  What was your overall experience with the Pulse Dance Company?

ALSTON: The experience was better than what I thought it would be. I learned a lot about dance. I didn't even think that I would take dance as serious as I would coming in. Like from where I started from where I am now, I can see growth (and) that’s a great thing.

QUESTION: How long did it take Pulse Dance Company to put all the choreography together?

ALSTON: Let me tell you this, what people don’t realize about Pulse. Pulse is very busy, last minute changes … and all.

Two weeks ago, we came up with the show idea. We had a different show and we already started choreographing. Our show was going to be entitled “Peer.” We had to adjust and adapt to it.
That’s how Dance Flicks was started. Someone came up with the idea and was like, “Hey let’s do dance flicks. So that’s how that happened.”
‘I am M.A.A.D’ and ‘Derivation’ top film festival

This year’s Calabash Film Festival took place on Tuesday, April 5, at the GTK auditorium.
The film festival, which is organized by Claflin’s Mass Communications Department, awards three in each category: short film and documentary.
The documentary, “I am M.A.A.D” by Michael Alston, a senior mass communications major, won first place for the documentary category. It is about the ups and downs faced by beginners in the showbiz industry.
Second and third place in the documentary category went to “Behind The Passion” by Shaketa Maiden-Harley and “He’s a Woman I Know” by Angel. The former talked about a girl who is passionate about the spoken word and the latter focused on the LGBT community.
Both are mass communications major as well as seniors.
In the short film category, John Mack’s “Derivation,” a movie showing a futuristic view to sleeping class, took home the first prize. He is senior with the mass communications department as well.
Second place went to “Cycle” by Jarrett Polite, the only participant who is not a mass communications major. His film follows a young man who is trying to break free of peer pressure and make out of the hood.
Third place went to “Secrets” by Audrey Anchirinah, a sophomore with a major in mass communications. Her film is about a girl who allegedly murders her boyfriend.

Inspired by his uncle 

The purpose of CALA-bash’s film festival is to showcase student filmmaking artistry and talent.
Following is an interview with first-place Documentary winner Michael Alston.
QUESTION: What inspired your “I AM M.A.A.D.” documentary?
ALSTON: I wanted to show my production company to the school, so I wanted to show the production side of entertainment. Different people around campus with different talents inspired me to go the route I did with my documentary.
QUESTION: Who inspires you as a filmmaker and why?

ALSTON: My uncle Sylvester Dawson. I used to work with him closely before I came to Claflin and he introduced me to different programs and stuff that I use now.

QUESTION: What are your future goals?

ALSTON: I plan to move to North Carolina where I will continue my production company.

‘You have to follow your own voice’

Jazz saxophonist, James Carter stopped by Claflin University to provide an evening of music and help celebrate Claflin’s Arts and Letters Annual Bash, CALA-Bash for short.
Carter is a saxophone virtuoso and consistently tops lists counting down the best jazz musicians and saxophonists of today.
He traveled to Orangeburg on Tuesday, April 5, after an invite by the university’s director of jazz studies and Jazz Ensemble Director Vincent Chandler. The two are longtime friends, having played together many times over the years and especially in their early days as young students in Detroit. Carter gladly took the opportunity to come inspire young musicians and join the jazz ensemble in their concert to take place that night.
“You have to follow your own voice,” Carter said while teaching in a masterclass earlier that morning. He described growing up in a musical family where he was the youngest of five.
His mother played piano and violin, his brother Kevin was a guitarist with Parliament-Funkadelic, his oldest brother Robert was the lead vocalist for the soul band Nature’s Divine, and his father and sisters were musicians as a hobby.
“Tried to deal with drums, tried to deal with guitar,” Carter said. He explained trying to find his own path outside of his siblings but not being really sure where to channel his talents until he’d heard the saxophone.
“It was something about this particular genre of music,” Carter said. At this point, he said that wasn’t even entirely sure what a saxophone looked like.
He would see pictures and depictions of the saxophone and jazz musicians on the covers to jazz vinyls and different albums.
As a young boy, Carter’s older brother played in a band and one of its members, Charles Green, stayed with their family for a while and brought his instruments.
When Green wasn’t around, a young Carter would sneak into his room, take one of Green’s saxophones out of its case and pose with it in front of a mirror, imitating the poses of the jazz musicians he’d seen on the covers of the albums. 
He later found a saxophone in the classifieds and began taking private lessons and practicing. He attended Michigan’s Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp which is where the most serious musicians go to hone their craft and play professional gigs. He is now on staff as the youngest faculty member for the Blue Lake camp.
“Music in its most profound state produces life,” Carter said. He expressed his deep love for the genre of jazz and its roots in other forms of music. Carter will have been touring Europe for 30 years now and his passion remains unchanged.

‘I would love for him to come back’ 

James Carter grooved to the sounds of the Claflin Jazz Ensemble as they played songs together for CALA-bash.
On April 5, Carter came to Claflin University as a special guest of the jazz ensemble. The visit was his first to the university.
"Jazz is about the art of the moment," Carter said.
Carter and the Claflin Jazz Ensemble played songs by Wayne Shorters, Duke Ellington and Brian Timmons.
Students playing along with him could do nothing but shake their heads in amazement.
Michael Gillespie, a member of the Claflin Jazz Ensemble, said, "He brought so many different aspects of jazz out that we didn't have a clue of.”
"He brought a great experience for jazz to our department," Gillespie said.
"I've played with him before, but this time was so much different," another member of Claflin’s Jazz Ensemble said. "He taught us so much."
The students in the audience were really into the performance and were chanting for an encore when Carter was done.
"It was a great experience, I would love for him to come back," one student said.

Poetry and women’s worth

As Cala-Bash began winding down, the spoken word of Poetry Slam seemed to be a crowd favorite.
The event involved Claflin students participating and being judged by students and guest poet Monifa Lemons.
Poetry topics ranged from women’s worth to sexual intercourse and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The group Poetically Undefined and Zayaunna Smith seemed to be crowd favorites. The poems  were designed to help females understand issues as Smith spoke about the pain of brothers and sisters being killed.
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