Dancing Chickens & Kissing Books: An Evening with Howie Lester Episode 2 is not the latest dance rage or a hot new release of a children’s book.
Lester calls it performance art, where in the spirit of a gypsy campfire, a Turkish coffee house, a Greek hash house, or modern experimental theater, he acts as both storyteller and musician.
“I mix stories like ‘Dancing Chickens, Kissing Books’ with songs from blues, gypsy, Klezmer, Cajun and Appalachian traditions—sometimes all at the same time,” explains Lester, professor and Master of Fine Arts program director in RIT’s School of Film and Animation.
Bring it on—just in time for the 2013 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival.
“When I was living in southern California, I played a piece called Cluck Old Hen and my neighbors’ chickens would cluck, hang around and dance,” says Lester with a laugh. “‘Kissing Books’ came from when I was a boy and growing up. In a synagogue if you dropped a prayer book, you kissed it, and I interpreted that as all books.
“But the performance is also an exploration about the mystery of fiddle playing and the power and magic of what a fiddle is.”
Lester joins an RIT lineup that includes an eclectic mix of poetry readings, dance, film, theater, music and visual arts—a Vegas-style buffet that celebrates freedom of expression and collaboration in the performing arts. And visitors can even go back for seconds during this year’s extended 10-day run from Sept. 19-28 in downtown Rochester’s East End.
Complementing the Fringe Fest, RIT’s Gallery r is hosting the Season of Festivals exhibition by Frank Cost, professor and program chair in RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences.
“It’s a wonderful set of images that Frank took last summer which documents all the festivals in Rochester from spring to fall, starting with the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival and the Lilac Festival, to the Greek, Park Avenue, Corn Hill and jazz festivals, and ending with the Greentopia Festival at High Falls,” says Zerbe Sodervick, Gallery r director for the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.