An alternative carnival pairs faith, arts, and activism

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Co-founder Tevyn East enjoys the artistic tension that the Carnival de Resistance creates.“The reality is, that the show will probably be too pagan for the Christians and too Christian for the pagans, so that will be interesting to see,” she said. Co-founder Tevyn East enjoys the artistic tension that the Carnival de Resistance creates.“The reality is, that the show will probably be too pagan for the Christians and too Christian for the pagans, so that will be interesting to see,” she said.

For two weekends beginning September 28, a traveling fair entitled the Carnival de Resistance will visit Charlottesville and set up a mobile village in the parking lot of the Sojourners United Church of Christ on Elliott Avenue. The carnival theme is centered on four performances featuring earth, air, water, or fire, and combines dance, music, and storytelling in a circus atmosphere. During the week, the carnival will venture into the community to participate in a number of projects, ranging from face painting and drumming workshops to planting community gardens and painting murals.

Organized by a core group of four artists, the carnival brings together over 20 participants. Having brought the event to Harrisonburg the past two weekends, the group will assemble a temporary village and subsist on scavenged supplies and food donated by local farmers, all of which will be prepared without the use of fossil fuels. The goal is to generate as little waste as possible by building a campsite from repurposed materials, and using a bicycle-powered sound system. It’s something of a cross between the Burning Man festival, the Occupy Movement, and a traditional traveling circus. The carnival’s promotional materials promise not only entertainment, but also a space for “dialogue and reflection,” and the choice of a church parking lot is no coincidence. It’s deliberately a faith-based project.

If this all sounds like a bewildering overload of aesthetics and concepts, well, that’s part of the whole idea. “The history of carnivals is such that it turns things upside down,” said Teyvn East, one of the organizers, and a former local who was active for many years in Charlottesville’s dance community. “The ‘resistance’ part is not about resistance as an antagonistic force, but resistance as, really, claiming that there is work that we have to do, in turning away from business as usual, and that there is actually something really fun about that. Something really life giving, in holding up an alternative way of being, of being a community, of living; an alternative story that we can live inside of.”

“Really, what we’re working to do is to combine environmental justice with radical theology,” East said. “We are working to reanimate the Judeo-Christian tradition, showing the ways in which these stories point us, call us to be in the right relationship with those who are oppressed, and with the Earth. We believe that in this tradition, there are teachings that are very relevant to the ecological crises that we are facing.”

East hopes that the project can “bridge the faith and arts and activist worlds. There are strange schisms between all of those, which is really problematic for our activist works if we’re not tapping into the spirituality that informs that work—and for the faith community, if it’s not responding to the needs that are in the world,” she said.

Jazz lift

Beginning September 30 and running until October 6, WTJU’s jazz department will host its annual fundraiser, as part of the radio station’s quarterly series of marathons. As always, the format will take over the station’s schedule for a full week of themed programming, a longstanding WTJU tradition that is a rarity even in noncommercial radio.

“This year’s theme is ‘Everywhere There’s Jazz,’” said David Eisenman, director of WTJU’s jazz and blues department. “There’s gonna be a time slot in the morning, of jazz from different parts of the United States. The noon-2pm slot is jazz from around the world. Robin [Tomlin] and I are going to do jazz, blues, and funk from Australia. Tuesday, Rebecca and David Lee are doing jazz from Canada. Wednesday, we have South African jazz, with professor John Mason and Bruce Penner.

“From 6 to 8 every night we have live performances,” Eisenman said. “On Monday there’s CHARST, which is all kids that have just graduated or are still in high school. On Tuesday there’s John D’earth, who has a new album out called On, and he’ll be performing some of those numbers. On Wednesday there’s the Charles Owens Trio —he’s a very fine saxophonist that lives here in Charlottesville. Chris Dammann, Gina Sobel, and a bunch of people are coming in and playing together on Thursday—there’s no single group, just a collection of local jazz artists. Art Wheeler’s playing on Sunday, and we’ve got a Dixeland band with Stephen Soghoian playing Saturday night.”

“I’m really excited about a live performance from a band that was pretty active back in the mid- to late-’80s, The Kokomotions,” Eisenman said. “Billy Bachman and his boys are getting back together for a reunion concert. They’re gonna warm up on Friday of the marathon, playing live on WTJU for the first time in 20 years, and then they’ll have their reunion dance concert at Fry’s Spring [Beach Club, later that evening]. They used to play at the C&O when the C&O used to have a concert hall, and they would just tear the house down. They do a lot of New Orleans-influenced music. I’m really excited about them getting back together.”

The station hopes to raise $40,000 towards its annual operating costs during the marathon. The week-long schedule also features specialty shows such as “Swing Nashville,” “Everywhere There’s Funk,” tributes to John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Ry Cooder and Robert Johnson, and a “Sax in the Sixties” show hosted by this writer.

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