Bring On The Night: Athens’ Latest Fest Features Uptown Dancing, Music

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Originated by the French artist Jean Blaise in the early 1990s, Nuit Blanche festivals have brought art to city streets around the globe.

These nocturnal “white night” festivals celebrate the full spectrum of the arts, such as dance, textile, film, music and photography.

Given southeast Ohio’s rich arts legacy, it’s no wonder that Dr. Zelma Badu-Younge, associate professor of Dance at Ohio University, thought that Athens should be added to the long list of Nuit Blanche hosts.

Badu-Younge had recently participated in a Nuit Blanche festival in Toronto, Canada, and fell in love with the concept. She brought the idea home to her husband, Associate Professor of Music Dr. Paschal Yao Younge, and together they began work on the local festival, which kicks off this weekend.

“I was [in Toronto] and I thought ‘This is perfect for Athens,'” expressed Badu-Younge. “You have the artists, you have the environment, the people who are really enthusiastic, so I thought it was a perfect match.”

The festival will take place in 18 different venues from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on April 6. Marked with a special Nuit Blanche balloon, each venue will display or offer their own version of art, from free yoga lessons at Inhale Yoga or salsa dancing and karaoke at Sol Restaurant.

Todd Wilson, owner of Sol Restaurant, is excited to be a part of this all-night event.

“One reason we were interested is because it’s Mom’s Weekend at OU, and I think it’s a great way for the moms to have something to do that’s not just going to the bars,” he said. “We’re looking forward to more of them in the future.”

Nuit Blanche will be preceded by “AZA,” a special Mom’s Weekend concert by the OU African Ensemble, on Friday, April 5. Also directed by Drs. Younge and Badu-Younge, the AZA concert is an OU concert staple, featuring African music and dance performances by university groups and special guests, including a performance by Dr. Zelma Badu-Younge herself.

“AZA will be celebrating 10 years this year,” said Younge. “A special feature of the concert will be a multimedia performance with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, so you will see over 100 performers playing together with our own Azaguno [African drumming group].”

The two-day celebration will end on a high note as Nuit Blanche wraps up with a grand finale of dancing, music and some surprises from 1-3 a.m. at Central Venue.

“All the art will come together for one explosive event,” said Badu-Younge.


AZA! Mom’s Weekend Concert
Friday, April 5, 7:30 p.m.
Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium

Pre-Nuit Children’s Art Festival
Saturday, April 6, 3:30-5 p.m
Howard Park

Nuit Blanche Arts Festival
Saturday, April 6, 5 p.m. – 3 a.m.

Nuit Blanche venues include: Inhale Yoga, ARTS/West, Athena Cinema, Donkey Coffee and Espresso, Central Venue, Union Arts, Shirley Wimmer Dance Theater, Glidden Recital Hall, 31 South Court Street (old Woolworth Building), Howard Park, College Gate, The Front Room (Baker University Center), Little Professor Book Center, Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery, Fluff Bakery, So Livi’s, Mountain Laurel Gifts, Athens County Historical Society and Museum, Court Street Coffee and Sol Restaurant.