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Artist in Residence Patricia Beaman presented two exhilarating world premieres, including Women of Myth Unleashed with renowned Baroque soprano Christine Brandes, juxtaposing the traditional form and mythological subject matter of the Baroque era with 21st century modern movement and contemporary issues, on March 27, 2015, at the CFA Theater. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

 

 

 

Singer-songwriter Omnia Hegazy performed on March 27, 2015, at Crowell Concert Hall. Ms. Hegazy was accompanied by drummer Max Maples, bassist Carl Limbacher, electric guitarist Coyote Anderson, and Natalia Perlaza on Arabic percussion and tabla. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

 

Sadia Shepard ’97 presented a literary talk about narrative strategies in writing and film on March 25, 2015, at The Russell House. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

The reception for seniors Luca Ameri, Raphael A. Leitz, Dat Vu, and Derrick Qi Wang in the Art Studio Program of Wesleyan’s Department of Art and Art History, took place on March 25, 2015, in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

The opening reception for the Middletown Public Schools Art Exhibition took place on March 7, 2015, at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. The exhibition ran from March 7 through March 14. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

Ronald K. Brown, artistic director of Evidence, A Dance Company, held a Master Class on March 7, 2015, at the Cross Street Dance Studio, as part of DanceMasters Weekend. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

 

David Dorfman, artistic director of David Dorfman Dance, held a Master Class on March 7, 2015, at the Bessie Schonberg Dance Studio, as part of DanceMasters Weekend. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view all the photos on flickr.

Choreographers Brian Brooks, Wendy Whelan, David Dorfman, and Ronald K. Brown discussed their craft on March 7, 2015, in the Woodhead Lounge in the Exley Science Center, during a noontime conversation for DanceMasters Weekend moderated by Nicole Stanton, chair of the Wesleyan University Dance Department. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Miranda Orbach ’15, Eriq Robinson ’15, and Virgil Taylor ’15 about their theses in Dance, Music, and Studio Art.

With the deadline for theses this Friday, April 10, 2015, Wesleyan seniors from all different majors are hunkering down across campus to complete the projects they have dedicated their year to. Thesis writers in Dance, Music, and Studio Art are presenting their work at the Center for the Arts every week through the end of the semester.

Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert. Photo by Miranda Orbach '15.

Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert. Photo by Miranda Orbach ’15.

Featuring new works by eight choreographers, the Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert took place last weekend in the Patricelli ’92 Theater. Closing the first half of the concert was Miranda Orbach’s form[all] training, a piece in partial fulfillment of her honors thesis in American Studies and Dance.

Ms. Orbach’s written thesis, “Monstrous Form: the Ballerina and the Freak,” draws the ballet and the freak show together to examine how each distinct performance mirrors the other. Her thesis reads the ballet through the lens of the freak show, and the freak show through the lens of the ballet.

“Historically we have separated these forms so far away from each other,” says Ms. Orbach. “Bringing them together actually allows us to intervene in the literature about both of them. It’s not that they are the same, but that they are useful for reading each other, as spectacle, body, and display are central themes to both performances.”

In her thesis, Ms. Orbach tells the story of one ballerina: Caroline Shadle ’16, who performs in the piece with two other female dancers. They dance with one foot in a pointe shoe and one barefoot to a sound score that narrates Ms. Shadle’s story, giving powerful insight into the life of an aspiring ballerina.

“The feeling of freakishness is not so far from the feeling of being trained,” says Ms. Orbach. “The two work in tandem. All of these categories that we oppose so starkly in society—form and deformity, ability and disability—are actually inherent to each other.”

Eriq Robinson’s senior recital, Reality Ends Here: The Beginning of the End, will take place this Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 7pm in Fayerweather Beckham Hall. The recital, featuring a vocal ensemble and a horn ensemble, is one component of Mr. Robinson’s thesis in Music. The vocal ensemble is inspired by South African overtone singing, the music of the Japanese Ainu, and Slavei, an a cappella group on campus that performs Slavic, Balkan, and Georgian liturgical music.

“The performance is a narrative story telling experience with music, based on a cosmological structure that I made up myself,” says Mr. Robinson. His cosmological structure is based on ideas from Buddhism and other Eastern religions, as well as Abrahamic religions and some African religions.

“It’s a story about the beginning of the end of the world,” he explains. “The idea is that humans are the nerve endings of the cosmos. We are all just the end of invisible tendrils that are the cosmos, all part of a giant macro organism.”

In the written component of his thesis, Mr. Robinson gives a short history of Afro-Futurism and attempts to determine if his music fits into that creative lineage.

“Because I’m making up a cosmological structure, I’ve been trying to make music that doesn’t sound familiar,” he says. “The hardest part about it has been trying to make music that sounds unfamiliar, while at the same time not making bad music. What I think makes music good, on an objective level, is having some sort of system and methodology that’s tying it all together.”

Mr. Robinson plans to continue writing his story even after the recital, and hopes this will be the first in a series of performances.

Studio Art major Virgil Taylor’s thesis, Irregular Quadrilateral, will be on display in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery from Tuesday, April 14 through Sunday, April 19, 2015; with an opening reception on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 from 4pm to 6pm.

After receiving a Zawisa fellowship from the Wesleyan Studio Art Department last spring, Mr. Taylor travelled to Albuquerque, New Mexico in the summer to study metal plate lithography at the Tamarind Institute. The youngest person in the program, both of his roommates were university professors.

When Mr. Taylor returned to Wesleyan this past fall, he realized he wanted to shift the focus of his thesis from lithography to intaglio prints. Intaglio refers to a printmaking process in which the image is carved into the plate with acid, a scribe, or a needle.

“Even though I did not end up doing my thesis in lithography, I think my work at the Tamarind Institute this summer really informed me on how to think about compositions,” says Mr. Taylor. “It was an opportunity to spend four weeks doing nothing but printmaking.”

His exhibition will fill Zilkha Gallery with intaglio prints of irregular quadrilaterals, which look like rectangles in perspective. In addition, he has created a large-scale composition resembling his prints that will occupy the back bay of the gallery—a 24 foot long piece of steel painted blue will mirror the many blue lines in his prints, and an eight foot tall drywall panel will appear in the shape of one of his plates.

“I’m interested in work that doesn’t require or desire any explicit content, or really any implicit content, but exists as a formal space,” says Mr. Taylor. “That’s why I like being able to make the giant version, because I can emphasize that it’s simply an arrangement of forms.”

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to singer-songwriter Omnia Hegazy, who performs with her band this Friday, March 27, 2015 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall as part of Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan.

You began writing lyrics for your first EP on a trip to Egypt in 2010.  What about the trip inspired you to start writing?

Omnia Hegazy

Omnia Hegazy

I tend to take a notebook with me and scribble wherever I go, and it was the summer before [Hosni] Mubarak was overthrown, so everyone was talking about politics all the time.  I was staying in a youth shelter at the time and talking with other Egyptians about what was going on and writing down my observations about how women are treated, about things I felt were unfair in the culture.  These are things that I grew up with in America, as well—people take their culture with them.  So I started writing things down and not necessarily as an outsider because these things do exist in America too.  These inequalities are not just among Egyptians but everybody.

What inspired your second EP, Judgment Day?

I wrote this song after watching a film called The Stoning of Soraya M, based [on] a true story about a woman in Iran who was stoned because her husband framed her for adultery. This actually happened in the 1980s.  I was so upset by the film that I wrote a song, not so much about the film, but about what is happening to people of my faith.  It was a critique about how I feel some people of my faith have taken religion and made it so evil and how it can really harm people.  The song became the title track of the EP.

Judgment Day is a provocative title.  What does the title mean to you?

I feel that as a Middle Eastern woman, there is a lot of judgment.  We face a lot more judgment than our male counterparts.  Our reputation is our biggest asset in a lot of cases. The title was about that feeling of constantly being judged.  I feel like every day is judgment day for an Arab woman, a Muslim woman.  Everyone else is judging what you should do, what you should say, what you should sing.  That’s what I tried to address with the title and specifically with that song.

You say you might have been a journalist, had your life gone a different direction.  Thinking about journalism and songwriting as two forms of storytelling, what do you think song achieves that journalism does not? 

For me, writing a song can appeal to people’s emotions in a way that hard news just can’t.  Often people just want to turn the news off because it’s so depressing, but with song one can elaborate behind whatever story you’re telling to make people really feel.  It’s not just the facts, not just what happened.  I think the reason song is so effective is that it helps creates empathy in a way that sometimes hard news just doesn’t.

What do you hope people will gain from listening to your music? 

I want to make people think.  I want people to have a good time, but there’s a lot of music out there that doesn’t necessarily really make people think.  To be fair, I think that all music has a place.  I don’t think you have to address an issue for the music to be important, like the stuff I’m writing now is more about personal things.  I think that’s just as important because I think songwriting attempts to reach an understanding about the human condition.  I want people to feel something when they listen to my music.  Whether I’m writing about a break up or political evil, I just want them to feel something.

Do you think your songs fall into either a personal or political category, or do you think both the personal and the political are manifest in each song you write?

To me the two are intertwined.  How I feel about any given issue is political, and it’s personal.  I’m observing, and I recognize that there’s bias in my music.  I wouldn’t see it as hard news, so much as an op-ed.  It’s personal and political.  One of my newer singles that just came out is very personal.  It’s about street harassment,  about being a woman and feeling unsafe.  That is actually something political—there’s a feminist message in the song, [and] it’s talking about the place of women in society—but it’s very personal.

Who are some of your greatest musical influences?

One of the biggest is a singer from Columbia named Juanes. He’s a pop/rock singer-songwriter and a mean guitar player.  He’s actually the best selling artist in Columbia, even before Shakira.  But if you listen to his older stuff, he was using really catchy melodies to write really meaningful things.  He has one song that is so catchy you want to bob your head to it, but then you really listen to it and realize he’s talking about landmines.  He made me realize that pop music is actually a really useful vehicle to spread a message, and it doesn’t have to be esoteric or metaphorical to be political.  Other than Juanes, I’m influenced by the 1960s—any of the singer-songwriters of the 1960s.  Also, India.Arie.  She writes some really catchy songs, but there’s a good message behind them.  She has soul.  I like artists with consciousness, not just political consciousness but any kind.

Omnia Hegazy
Friday, March 27, 2015 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$18 general public; $15 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

At Wesleyan, Ms. Hegazy will be accompanied for the first time outside of New York City by drummer Max Maples, bassist Carl Limbacher, electric guitarist Coyote Anderson, and Natalia Perlaza on Arabic percussion and tabla.

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