Home Programs Arts Midwest Conference Showcases 2021 Spotlight Showcases

2021 Spotlight Showcases

The Arts Midwest 2021 Online Conference features 10 incredible artists who were selected by the 2020 Spotlight Showcase panel process and chose to defer their showcase to this year. Between high energy percussive acts and infectious Brazilian guitar tunes, you’re sure to find something you like and leave inspired!

Spotlight Showcases will air on the evenings of Monday, September 20 and Tuesday, September 21, on the virtual Conference platform, Boomset. Performances will be viewable after the initial airing.


Monday, September 20


alt text

LADAMA (Colombia, Brazil, USA, Venezuela)

LADAMA is an ensemble of women musicians from across the Americas who, as well as performing as a touring band, strive to engage youth in their respective communities in the process of music-making, composition and audio production through collaboration and performance workshops. They are Mafer Bandola (Venezuela), Lara Klaus (Brazil), Daniela Serna (Colombia) and Sara Lucas (U.S.). With rhythm and percussion driving their original compositions sung in Spanish, Portuguese and English they combine disparate, traditional roots music with pop. The result is a sonic experience through which we can view our future as a world that communicates across continents and cultures, with sound and story.

LADAMA has performed at TED, the Skoll World Forum, on ESPN, and at dozens of prestigious venues and festivals around the world. In January 2018 they were featured on NPR’s All Things Considered which praised their “irresistible spirit and universal appeal.” Their self-titled debut album (released through Six Degrees Records in 2017) reached #1 on both iTunes and Amazon’s Latin Music Charts. OYE MUJER, LADAMA’s 2nd full-length album released in the Summer of 2020, is a declaration to women and a call to humanity.

alt text

Diego Figueiredo (Brazil, Florida)

Grammy-nominated guitarist Diego Figueiredo (fig-a-reed-o) is a virtuoso with an infectious, joyful feeling that will leave you amazed. A brilliant musician who keeps the tradition of the true essence of Brazilian music, and at the same time can be extremely modern and innovative, he is an extraordinary star among the world’s greatest guitarists. Figueiredo’s superb technique, timing and imagination have made him one of the hottest international names right now.

alt text

Thalea String Quartet (Maryland)

The Thalea String Quartet’s Arts Midwest 2021 showcase will demonstrate the award-winning string quartet’s electrifying and engaging approach to new and old masterpieces of the string quartet repertoire. Currently the Fellowship String Quartet at the University of Maryland, the Thalea String Quartet will present two works in their showcase performance, Daniel Bernard Roumain’s foot-stomping audience favorite “Klap Ur Handz” and the first movement of Dvořák’s timeless “American” String Quartet. The Thalea String Quartet is committed to building a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive future for classical music.

Winners of the 2021 Ann Divine Educator Award from the Fischoff Competition, the Thalea String Quartet has been celebrated for their innovative approach to community engagement and educational programming, both in-person and online. Their dedication to commissioning composers from underrepresented communities has resulted in a groundbreaking body of works written specifically for the Thalea String Quartet. The ensembles collaborators have included aerial dancers, theatre companies, and pop music visionaries including BADBADNOTGOOD, Charlotte Day Wilson, and Jay Electronica. Their 21/22 season explores the impact of American musical traditions on the chamber music repertoire, celebrating music inspired by rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop, bluegrass, and the Black spiritual.

alt text

Visceral Dance Chicago (Illinois)

Visceral Dance Chicago has been engaging and connecting audiences with its artists since 2013. This national and internationally recognized repertory company, founded by Artistic Director Nick Pupillo, presents his daring vision to explore the infinite possibilities of contemporary movement and the best of emerging, established and innovative choreographers. The company, consisting of 10 dancers, is recognized for its exceptional technicality and daring athleticism. Visceral has been praised for its accessibility in programming by presenting dynamic performances that appeal to a wide range of audiences. This showcase includes 5 excerpts highlighting the company’s diversity:

  • Impetere, Artist Director Nick Pupillo’s first work for the company is rich with fiery power and has become an audience favorite.
  • Mónica Cervantes’ work Changes navigates our modern world, both the harsh and the poignant. Cervantes explores how different relationships begin, develop and end in our fast-paced world.
  • Choreographer Marguerite Donlon’s “dark-humored, dynamic” Ruff Celts manifests material from the dancers’ unique personalities and the choreographers’ Irish heritage. Using composed sections of improvisational forms, this high-energy, quirky and visually stunning work explores the dancers’ own voices in relation to tribe and heritage.
  • KEEP (Pupillo) is a duet that represents the connection and emotion of Visceral.
  • Finally, Synapse (Pupillo), is an immersive experience with a responsive interaction of music and dance. Electrical energy joins together the driving house beat of Darryl Hoffman’s music with the technicality and provocativeness of the Visceral dancers.


Tuesday, September 21


alt text

Twin Flames (Canada)

Building bridges across cultures, continents, and styles, Twin Flames brings together a richness of personal history and musical experience. Their songs tell stories of courage and survival written in English, Inuttitut, and French. Multi-Award-Winning chart-topping Canadian Indigenous Duo Twin Flames are a husband-wife team made up of Jaaji, (Inuk and Mohawk) from Nunavik and Chelsey June, (Métis). Honouring their ancestor’s history and their Indigenous backgrounds Twin Flames have become a beloved powerhouse couple well on their way to becoming a Canadian household name.

Since joining together, both professionally and as spouses, Twin Flames have released three full-length albums and have been nominated for 29 Music awards both Nationally and abroad, including 2 Canadian Folk Music Award wins, and 3 Native American Music Award wins and most recently 3 wins at the Inaugural Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards. They’ve had Two number 1 Hits on the Indigenous Music Countdown’s Top 40 and have played more than 1000+ shows throughout Canada, Greenland, the United States, Australia, France and the Cayman Islands. The duo was selected as artist-in-residence for the 2019 Folk Alliance International Conference and partnered with UNESCO to write Human the official song to celebrate 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages. Human was also a part of CBC’s Music Class Challenge in 2020.

alt text

The Black Market Trust (California)

The Black Market Trust is an American Traditional Pop/Vocal Jazz quintet based in Los Angeles, CA that combines the sounds of the legendary American crooners and vocal groups with the fiery energy and iconic sound of Gypsy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. These five virtuosic musicians capitalize on their vast experience to deliver a high energy, crowd pleasing performance featuring material from The Great American Songbook infused with Django’s romantic and signature flavor. Add some intricate vocal harmonies, some Rat Pack-style comedy, and journey to a place both familiar and new, melding two different vibes – one, a gypsy campfire, the other a slick metropolitan nightclub – into a cohesive, stylish sound.

alt text

Collision of Rhythm (Georgia)

Collision of Rhythm will deliver a high-energy showcase full of innovative musical feats, audience interaction, laughter, and excitement. Their non-stop cavalcade of percussion, tap dancing, vocal percussion, piano, marimba, juggling, and singing answers the question, “Can a 2-person act fill my stage?” with a resounding “YES!”

You may recognize them from their rhythmic viral videos – Aaron, in his virtuosic rendition of Mario on Marimba (over 80 million views), and Bronkar, as the Beatbox Dad, in a video of him beatboxing with his son (over 200 million views). Their performances are filled with a joyful exuberance that is felt by all. The duo’s range of talents and accomplishments is mind boggling, from Bronkar’s world records in juggling to a Superbowl commercial featuring Aaron’s tap dancing, from Aaron’s exceptional prowess as a classical and jazz pianist and Marimba player to both of them being astounding players on all things percussion.

alt text

WindSync (Texas)

WindSync displays their versatility and vibrance in this short program recorded from the wind quintet’s artistic home in Houston. The opening excerpt from Beethoven’s Quintet in E-flat showcases the synchronization that lends the ensemble its name. “Heaven” by Miguel del Aguila creates a technicolor sound palette for the flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon, using key clicks and tongue pops to build a percussive Caribbean-style dance. Ravel’s Bolero is a fan favorite and a theatrical high point of the program, with each of the musicians rotating in the soloist position and taking a turn at the snare drum. With their interactive memorized performance style, WindSync creates an immediate connection with the audience and with each other.

alt text

Buzz Brass (Canada)

Thanks to outstanding original transcriptions, rediscover famous compositions from the turn of the 20th century. Here are the three works that the five musicians of Buzz Brass, based in Montreal, are featuring in their Arts Midwest Conference video:

  • “Montreal Hora Cero” – A work by Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), arr. by Javier Sebastian Asencio for Brass Quintet, Vibraphone and Drum Set
  • “Cuban Overture” – A work by George Gershwin (1898-1937), arr. by Louis Babin & François Vallieres for Brass Quintet and Piano
  • “Sabre Dance” – A work by Aram Khatchaturian (1903-1978) , arr. by Buzz Brass for Brass Quintet
    Under the new incomparable light that Buzz Brass casts upon them, time to enjoy those veritable timeless masterpieces that all audiences will appreciate. This is the essence of Buzz Brass: outstanding musicians and unique arrangements!
alt text

Ryanhood (Arizona)

One part world-class guitarist, one part TED Talk storyteller, Ryanhood’s tight vocal harmonies and big acoustic riffs turned them into one of biggest acts on the college touring circuit. They’ve gone on to become favorites in the folk scene as well, regularly performing mainstays like Kerrville and Falcon Ridge, and earning the title of “Best Group/Duo” in the International Acoustic Music Awards. Audiences can count on a high-energy, highly-interactive performance – something they developed early on as street-performers at Boston’s Quincy Market.


Showcases are only available to registered Conference attendees.

Ready to get registered for the Arts Midwest Conference?
Click the button below to get started, or check out rates here.

Register Now


Photo credits, in order of appearance:
LADAMA, Photo by Yanina May + style and direction by Stephanie Peña
Diego Figueiredo, Photo by Ziggy Spizrev
Thalea String Quartet, Photo by Titilayo Ayangade
Visceral Dance Chicago, Photo by MReid Photography
Twin Flames, Photo by Sean Sisk
The Black Market Trust, Photo by Brian Bixby
Collision of Rhythm, Photo by Moshe Levis
WindSync, Photo by Kristina Jacinth
Buzz Brass, Photo by Michel Berard
Ryanhood, Photo by Ehab Tamimi