College dance crew performs at Starry Night exhibit, World of Winter Festival

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Haley Rosendale, Staff Writer

The World of Winter Festival in downtown Grand Rapids has returned.

Opening on Jan. 6, the World of Winter Festival is the largest winter festival in the Midwest. Throughout the next two months there will be numerous art exhibits, events and activities to attend such as an architecture walk, a scavenger hunt and live performances.

Starry Night, located at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in front of the Gerald R. Ford Museum, is one of the many displays to visit at the World of Winter festival. It captures one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most well-known paintings in a glow-in-the-dark adaptation. Architect Ivana Jelić and creative engineer Pavle Petrović created the piece of art to display at the World of Winter Festival.

“It took the team of five people four days to make it,” Jelić said. “On the other hand, it took months of planning, designing the details and programming.”

Jelić and Petrović had to work together to make the details almost a perfect match to the original painting, regardless of the colors or even how the brush strokes initially looked.

Jelić and Petrović’s Starry Night light display was inspired by Van Gogh’s iconic original painting, but their exhibit speaks to a bigger environmental issue.

“I wanted to address the issue of light pollution, which causes the visual absence of stars in urban areas,” Jelić said.

On Friday, Jan. 13, at 6:30 p.m., a dance crew based out of Central Michigan University named Pursuit of Ahhwesomness performed at the Starry Night exhibit.

Bird Clarkson, who leads the Pursuit of Ahhwesomeness, said the piece his crew performed doesn’t have a specific meaning. Instead, the crew found inspiration from the exhibit that influenced the work.

“The inspiration was to glide through the choreo like a starry sky,” Clarkson said. “The rest is to just move freely like a comet in the sky.” 

Bird said the choreography was crafted specifically for this performance. The middle section of the piece was performed on Saturday, Jan 14. at Central Michigan University during halftime in a basketball game against the Buffalo Bulls. 

Jenna Galien, a dancer with Pursuit of Ahhwesomeness, said her interpretation of the performance was “beautiful awesomeness in the cold.”

“I feel pretty while dancing this piece, like I was floating on a cloud,” Galien said. 

Galien said the piece is up for interpretation by the audience, but she felt a deeper connection to the artwork during the performance.

More information on future events can be found on theWorld of Winter Festival’s website.