Theater & Arts

‘Star Wars,’ DreamWorks and more represented as CSU Summer Arts returns to Fresno

Contra-Tiempo, a dance performance group encompassing various genres, will be one of the guest performers at CSU Summer Arts in 2017.
Contra-Tiempo, a dance performance group encompassing various genres, will be one of the guest performers at CSU Summer Arts in 2017. Contra-Tiempo

After five years away from the Valley, CSU Summer Arts is returning to Fresno State with a full schedule packed with student showcases and performances from a star-studded list of guest artists.

The program will kick off June 25 with an orchestral performance from the FOOSA Festival and the Fresno Summer Orchestra Academy. The final two days will be a showcase on July 21-22 for the program’s 450 students from throughout the state. Most of the performances and lectures takes place at a variety of venues across the campus, but Roosevelt High School for the Performing Arts will also host a few.

The month-long arts festival is packed with notable guest performers in a variety of mediums, including dance, film making, poetry, wood carving and musical performance. You won’t want to miss the June 28 cinematography lecture from Bruce Logan, whose work includes “Star Wars,” “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “TRON.” Fun fact: He’s the guy who actually blew up the Death Star on screen. So he’s clearly a galactic hero who is worth your time.

The organizers also recommend David Sanchez & Friends on July 5, Urban Bush Women on July 10 and Nimble Collective on July 19. Sanchez is a Grammy award-winning Latin Jazz saxophonist, while Urban Bush Women is a socially charged dance performance. The Nimble Collective is a lecture from a group of animators including Rex Grignon, the founding head of character animation at DreamWorks who also worked on “Toy Story” and “Madagascar.”

Fresno State beat out seven other schools through a competitive bidding process to bring the program back to its campus, where it will remain until 2021. The university hosted the festival from 1999-2011 before it moved to California State University Monterey Bay.

The program’s departure was a blow for the university and local arts community, but it also affected the local economy by removing Fresno as a destination for art lovers outside the Valley. But organizers say CSU Summer Arts’ return has restored that vigor.

“People are planning their summers around this,” spokeswoman Tanya Osegueda said.

Tickets for each performance go on sale Monday and can be purchased in person at the CSU Summer Arts box office in Fresno State’s Speech Arts Building or online. Regular tickets range from $10-$20 per event, with discounted rates available for seniors, students, faculty and staff. Children under 12 get in for free. The student showcases are free to the public, but seats are only available on a first-come, first-served basis. Check the festival’s website for a full rundown of ticketing rules.