Mark Nelson, Carolina Performing Arts director of marketing and communications, took the flag to N’Dour, who wore the flag as a cape and ran around the stage.
“I got goose bumps because it just feels right,” Nelson said.
Carolina Performing Arts has brought nearly 500 performances to the Chapel Hill community in the past nine years. The acts range from traditional symphonies to regulars like the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, but every season also hosts a mix of popular and less familiar acts.
More than 300 student tickets are reserved for each performance. Each student ticket costs $10, and there are free tickets for Carolina Covenant Scholars. Student tickets are only capped for certain performances that sell out quickly.
Emil Kang, CPA executive and artistic director, said he has had people telling him that the programs can be too weird or strange. But it’s part of his vision for CPA — to widen horizons and promote curiosity.
“My fantasy world is that people feel as much excitement about something they don’t know as they do something they already know,” Kang said. “The only way to do that or even have a chance of that coming true is always doing things that are different and not worrying about who it’s for.”
Kang travels nearly every three weeks to build relationships with performers around the world. Shantala Shivalingappa, an acclaimed Indian dancer based in Paris, was one of the performers that he approached.
“In Paris, she sold out 3,000 seats — why should she come here when she can go to (the) Kennedy Center?” he said. “I have a vision and they want to be part of the big idea. The point is that you can see the value of trying not just this, but everything — you want to encourage a generation of people who are excited about trying.”