Feed on
Posts
Comments

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to graduate student Maho Ishiguro about the Connecticut premiere of “Tari Aceh! (Dance Aceh!)” Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra, taking place on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall.

After many months of planning and overseas communication, the Center for the Arts is delighted to welcome to campus a group of nine female performers from Aceh, Indonesia on their first-ever tour of the United States.

Between the ages of 14 and 24, these young women study dance at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, the capital of the Aceh province on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra. The dances they practice were originally performed only by men, and in some districts of Indonesia it remains forbidden for women to perform them.

At Wesleyan, the group will be making their Connecticut premiere as part of the fifteenth annual Breaking Ground Dance Series  as well as Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan.

aceh-blog

Tari Aceh! Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra

The dances to be performed have been passed down from generation to generation, and contain a great deal of history and tradition. Accompanied by percussion, the performers add to each dance’s striking musicality with their own rhythmic body percussion, and the singing of both Islamic liturgical and folk texts. These dances are some of the best illustrations of the transcultural blending of Islamic and Indonesian culture.

It has been ten years since a devastating tsunami hit Aceh, killing 200,000 people. The performance of Tari Aceh! celebrates the resilience of the people of Aceh, and a new generation of young women whose performance of these traditional dances are contributing to the recovery efforts in this part of the world.

To learn more about the performing arts in Banda Aceh, click here to watch a video that Wesleyan ethnomusicology graduate student Maho Ishiguro put together while visiting Syiah Kuala University last year.  She traveled there after receiving a Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship to study the female Saman dance in Indonesia.

While in Banda Aceh, Ms. Ishiguro had the chance to interview all of the dancers. You can get to know some of them here.

Ms. Ishiguro will join Ari Palawi, the Program Coordinator at the Syiah Kuala University’s Center for the Arts, to give a pre-performance talk on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 7:15pm in Crowell Concert Hall.

On Thursday, February 26, 2015 the dancers will lead a free dance workshop, open to all experience levels, at 6:30pm in Fayerweather Beckham Hall. Click here to watch a video for a taste of what you might learn in the workshop.

Ms. Ishiguro told me a little about Saman dance, and the dancers of the Syiah Kuala troupe:

“Saman dance (also known as rateb meuseukat and ratoh duek) is one of the dance forms popularly practiced in Aceh province, the northern tip of Sumatra Island, Indonesia.  A number of dancers sit in a row and perform elaborative and fast movements with their hands, heads, and torsos.  The dance is highly coordinated, and its complex choreography includes clapping and hitting the body with the hands, resulting in percussive sounds that add to the performance.  Dancers also sing while dancing.  Texts of songs entail commentaries about nature, love, relationships, politics, and society, as well as religious teachings of Islam. Islamic phrases such as la ilaha illallah (“There is no god but God,” a testimony of Islamic faith) and assalamulaikum (“Peace be upon you”) are often interwoven within the song texts.  The origin of the dance form is unknown; however, it is generally understood that Saman dance was practiced historically as dhikr, a religious exercise which Muslims, especially those of Sufi traditions, employ to feel the presence and remembrance of Allah.  In Aceh today, Saman dance is a proud cultural heritage. Both female and male dancers practice the form, though separately.”

“In the past decade, Saman dance has become highly popularized in Indonesia, as well as internationally, for its unique choreography and the feeling of camaraderie that the dance generates among the dancers.  Most high schools in Jakarta have Saman dance teams as an afterschool extracurricular activity.  Furthermore, many regional and national competitions are held, and the winning teams are sometimes sent abroad for a tour.  Today, Saman dance is not only a cultural expression of Aceh; the dance has transgressed the ethnic and regional boundaries among Indonesians, as it is practiced widely by those who do not share ethnic or cultural heritages with the Acehnese.  In recent years, the dance seems to be on its way towards becoming a cultural expression not just for the Acehnese but for all Indonesians.  There have been a number of Saman dance groups formed by Indonesian students abroad.  In such cases, Saman dance is performed as an Indonesian cultural expression.  In fact, Wesleyan has had a group of students, comprised of both Indonesians and non-Indonesians, who participated in Saman dance practice on campus over the last several years.”

“The University of Syiah Kuala is one of the largest universities in Banda Aceh, the capital city of Aceh Province. The dancers of the Syiah Kuala troupe have studied several forms of Acehnese dance since their childhood.  The troupe has performed domestically and internationally.  As part of the Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan program, the dancers will be in residency at Wesleyan for several days, hosting workshops and engaging in other activities with students and the Wesleyan community.  One of the most exciting aspects of hosting this troupe is that the dancers are relatively close in age with our students.  We hope that Wesleyan students and dancers will engage with each other at a personal level, deepening cultural understanding through informal and meaningful interactions.”

Panel Discussion: Expressing and Contesting Indonesia-Islam Encounters in Performing Arts – Dance and Music in Aceh
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 4:15pm
CFA Hall
FREE!

Workshop: Dance from Northern Sumatra
Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 6:30pm
Fayerweather Beckham Hall
FREE!

Tari Aceh! Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra
Connecticut Premiere
Friday, February 27, 2015 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$22 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Pre-performance talk by Wesleyan graduate student Maho Ishiguro and Ari Palawi, Program Coordinator, Syiah Kuala University’s Center for the Arts, at 7:15pm.

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to writer, director, and performer Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental about the Connecticut premiere of his solo theater work “17 Border Crossings,” taking place this Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 8pm in the CFA Theater.

What was the initial inspiration for “17 Border Crossings”?

Most of the shows I’ve made with Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental involved traveling somewhere to make the show. The travel is done as research for the performance. For example, we did a road trip from Denver to L.A., and we dropped down into New Mexico where we tried to find all the old parts or Route 66, and we filmed stuff and took notes and developed this piece called Flamingo/Winnebago based off that trip. We’ve done that in Bosnia, Cuba, the Amazon. But what would happen is I would come back and tell people stories of things that happened that weren’t directly related to the project we were doing, and I realized I wanted to do something with all this “outtake” material that was simply about travel. It didn’t have a storyline or a plot. It was just about traveling, and then I realized all of the stories that I was remembering or finding were about border crossings.

Can you talk a little about the work itself?

Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental performs “17 Border Crossings.”

Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental performs “17 Border Crossings.”

There are seventeen different scenes or sequences. I had done solo work before but very involved, complicated stuff with video or crazy sets, and [for 17 Border Crossings] I wanted to try doing the classic Spalding Gray monologue at a desk with a microphone and a glass of water. Because I’ve used video in other work recently, I’ve been trying to do works that are much more cinematic in their theatricality but with no video—the simplest scenes possible: the movement of a chair or lights or sound. The idea is to create a very modern/contemporary style of theater but without any media that actively engages the audience’s imagination, individualizing the experience more. If you use a bunch of media, everyone’s seeing the same thing, but if you simply suggest something and fill it in with text and sound, then the way you’re seeing it is a little bit different than the way the person next to you is seeing it because it’s not fully there yet.

Other than the overarching theme of border crossing, what elements of traveling does the work address?

There’s a few: one is that modes of transportation are weird, like a plane is a very weird thing if you really think about it, so there’s a little sequence about being in a plane that tries to expose all that—what you’re not supposed to think about. Then there’s always being taken to a little square room by immigration authorities. Technically when you land, before you leave Customs, you’re not anywhere. [It’s] this weird space where you go through the passport control. You’re in an architectural space that’s been defined as nowhere in the world. Then the whole absurdity of borders themselves, like the border between Israel and Jordan was made up by Winston Churchill, and he made jokes about it, saying “I just invented a country!”

What do you see as the significance of performing this work in such a globalized world, where travel is so much more accessible than it once was and so many more people are traveling?

When you start talking about these little stories or human stories, what you have is a huge global theme but [told] through specific details about a very specific person. What the show tries to do is make very human what it is to cross a border, from being on a plane and being completely unconscious of what’s going on underneath you to people trying to get across for a better life.

Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental: 17 Border Crossings
Connecticut Premiere
Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 8pm
CFA Theater
$19 general public; $17 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

An Outside the Box Theater Series event presented by the Theater Department and the Center for the Arts.

Write a story (500 words max) about when you crossed a geographic border, or a border of any kind. Where did it lead you? What insights did you have?

Then, post your story on the Center for the Arts Facebook event page for 17 Border Crossings, and you will receive a free ticket to the performance. The story with the most “Likes” by midnight on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 will win a $200 travel gift certificate courtesy of Sanditz Travel Management in Middletown!

How to post your story:

1. Go to the Facebook event page here.
2. “Join” the event.
3. Under “POSTS,” where it says “Write something…” cut and paste your story.
4. Hit the “Post” button.

If you don’t have Facebook, but would like to participate, please e-mail your entry by midnight on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 to boxoffice@wesleyan.edu.

Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental performs "17 Border Crossings."

Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental performs “17 Border Crossings.”

Outside the Box Theater Series
Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental: 17 Border Crossings
Connecticut Premiere
Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 8pm
CFA Theater
$19 general public; $17 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

The Connecticut premiere of 17 Border Crossings, a solo work written and directed by Thaddeus Phillips based on his travel experiences. The audience is taken to the frontiers of countries around the world in a humorous and poignant examination of imaginary lines, arbitrary passports, and curious customs.

 

An Outside the Box Theater Series event presented by the Theater Department and the Center for the Arts.

sanditz-amex-large

CFA Arts Administration Intern and DanceLink Fellow Chloe Jones ’15 talks to dancer Lucy M. May of Compagnie Marie Chouinard about their upcoming performances at Wesleyan on Friday, February 6 and Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 8pm.

I close the heavy door softly behind me and cautiously step forward into the dark theater. On stage a woman rehearses a solo. She is tall and slender and dances with startling grace. Her long limbs slice through the space, she stops suddenly, pirouettes. With each movement she communicates something—her whole body speaking, from her gesturing hands to her quick feet. She is fierce and beautiful, every cell of her body alive and articulate.

I have come to Hanover, New Hampshire as a Wesleyan DanceLink Fellow to see Montréal’s Compagnie Marie Chouinard perform, and I have just walked into dress rehearsal. When the dance finishes, the lights come up in the theater and the company members gather on stage. They go over a few notes with the rehearsal director before heading back to their hotel to prepare for the night’s show. I can hardly wait for them to take the stage again.

Described by The New York Times as “a hurricane of unbridled imaginativeness,” Compagnie Marie Chouinard was founded by choreographer Marie Chouinard in 1990. Today the company tours all over the world.

The company first came to Wesleyan in September 2008 to perform the United States premiere of Orpheus and Eurydice. This weekend, they return to campus with the New England premiere of Gymnopédies (2013) and the Connecticut premiere of Henri Michaux: Mouvements (2005-2011).

Set to music by French composer and pianist Érik Satie, Gymnopédies began as an exploration of the duet form. “She knew she wanted to work with these erotic duets between two dancers,” says company member Lucy M. May. “That was really the first thing we did in the studio: improvise two-by-two, different couples.”

In the process of creating the work, Ms. Chouinard decided she wanted each dancer to learn Mr. Satie’s Gymnopédies and play it on the piano as part of the performance. Many of the dancers had never played the piano, but gradually, with lessons and practice, they all learned. In the finished work, the dancers take turns at the piano bench, their live music adding to the work’s curious sensuality.

Interprète/Dancer Lucy M. May performs "Henri Michaux: Mouvements." Photo by Marie Chouinard.

Interprète/Dancer Lucy M. May performs “Henri Michaux: Mouvements.” Photo by Marie Chouinard.

Henri Michaux: Mouvements began in 1980 when Ms. Chouinard came upon the book Mouvements (1951) by Belgian writer and artist Henri Michaux (1899-1984). Inspired by the book’s abstract ink drawings and 15-page poem, Ms. Chouinard decided to use it as a choreographic score.

“She brought all of the images into the studio,” says Ms. May. “We had photo copies of all the drawings, and some of them were hanging on clotheslines and others were in big piles of paper all around the place, and we spent a really intensive two weeks making all sorts of different compositions. We were exploring all the possibilities of what we were seeing.”

This literal translation of image into movement is augmented by costumes and set. Clothed head-to-toe in black, the dancers perform on a white floor against a white backdrop so that the stage becomes the book.

Mouvements was one of the works I saw performed at Dartmouth this past September. I was blown away. The dancers’ ability to recreate the ink drawings with their bodies is truly amazing—a dazzling exactitude.

“There’s a balance between a high level of demand—of precision and detail and rigor—and then this amazing amount of freedom,” says Ms. May of Ms. Chouinard’s work.

Indeed Ms. Chouinard’s choreography strikes me as simultaneously precise and reckless, raw, free. The dancers move with extreme clarity—so much of the choreography impossibly intricate, detailed, and fast—yet there is something of abandon in their performance, something intensely wild.

As I watched the performance that evening at Dartmouth, I was riveted by each dancer, each movement, each moment. My eyes did not drift once from the stage. My mind never wandered. I found myself fully immersed in the world of each dance.

They are strange worlds, exciting and new and daring.

Compagnie Marie Chouinard
Friday, February 6 and Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 8pm
CFA Theater
$25 general public; $22 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Pre-performance talk by DanceLink Fellow Chloe Jones ’15 on Friday, February 6, 2015 at 7:30pm in CFA Hall.

Dine/Dance/Discover on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 5:30pm in Fayerweather Dance and Theater Studios—add $15 to your regular ticket price. Click here to purchase Dine/Dance/Discover online.

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks with Assistant Professor of Art Sasha Rudensky about the “Picture/Thing” exhibition, which opens in the Main Gallery of Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Thursday, January 29, 2015. Admission to the gallery is free.

Assistant Professor of Art Sasha Rudensky and Professor of Art Jeffrey Schiff have teamed up to bring us Picture/Thing, an exhibition in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery that explores the relationship between photography and sculpture through the work of ten groundbreaking artists: Kendall Baker, Isidro Blasco, Rachel Harrison ’89, Leslie Hewitt, Jon Kessler, Anouk Kruithof, Marlo Pascual, Mariah Robertson, Erin Shirreff, and Letha Wilson.

These ten artists create hybrid objects that challenge and expand traditional definitions of photography and sculpture. The objects in the exhibition take myriad forms, as each artist has a unique approach to material, technology, and presentation.

Upon entering the gallery, one is greeted by the work of Erin Shirreff. “Hers are digital prints that have been placed in somewhat traditional frames,” says co-curator Ms. Rudensky. “But when you look closer you discover this whole other reality. For one thing the paper is not flat. It’s three dimensional, and what she’s capturing are sculptures, or forms that are very reminiscent of mid-century sculpture, so she’s playing with this lateral movement back and forth between photography and sculpture.”

facade_blog

Anouk Kruithof, “Façade,” 2014, inkjet prints, plexiglass, polystyrene, cellophane foil, bricks, 55.5 x 43.3 x 39.4 inches, courtesy of the artist and Boetzelaer | Nispen.

Turning around one sees a free-standing “picture/thing” by Anouk Kruithof. Its styrofoam blocks and iridescent glass glisten. “It’s a very mysterious piece,” says Ms. Rudensky. “In part because as you walk around it, the view and the content change dramatically. Because of the play of light that happens with the reflectedness of the materials she’s using, there’s this revelatory experience that continues as you circumnavigate the piece.”

Venturing further into the gallery, one encounters the work of Mariah Robertson. “She’s someone who works with traditional photographic processes,” says Ms. Rudensky. “She makes darkroom prints in a time when very few people are making darkroom prints, but then does these wild things with them by making 164 foot photographs that are suspended in space.”

Picture/Thing transforms the gallery into a world of rare objects. Each artist’s work is stunningly different from the next.

While most of the artists hail from Brooklyn and Harlem, their work speaks to a far-reaching trend in contemporary art.

“The idea for the exhibition came together rather quickly, in part because the phenomenon is very much there and present,” says Ms. Rudensky. “Artists are looking for new ways of dealing with traditional media.”

Picture/Thing will be on display in the Main Gallery of the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery through Sunday, March 1, 2015.

Interested to hear Ms. Rudensky speak in more detail about the exhibition? She and co-curator Jeffrey Schiff will give a talk at 5:30pm this Thursday, January 29 as part of the exhibition’s opening reception.

Wesleyan University is a center for creativity and innovation, and one of the best places for our community to come together to participate in that energy is at the Center for the Arts. Our year-long exploration of Muslim Women’s Voices in performance continues on February 27 with a rare opportunity to see a dance company coming to Middletown from the northernmost tip of Sumatra, Indonesia. The dances of Tari Aceh! feature quick, highly-coordinated movements of hands, heads, and torsos, punctuated by lively body percussion. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. And on April 17 and 18, you can get a first look at a theatrical work-in-progress by playwright and actress Leila Buck ’99 that was commissioned for Muslim Women’s Voices.
Rachel Harrison, "AA," 2010, wood, bubble wrap, cardboard, acrylic, tennis shirt, A/V cart, DVD player, speakers, projector, extension cord, five hair rollers, pack of gum, ear plugs, American Apparel video, color/sound (2009), 80 x 70 x 70 inches. Courtesy of Greene Naftali Gallery.

Rachel Harrison, “AA,” 2010, wood, bubble wrap, cardboard, acrylic, tennis shirt, A/V cart, DVD player, speakers, projector, extension cord, five hair rollers, pack of gum, ear plugs, American Apparel video, color/sound (2009), 80 x 70 x 70 inches. Courtesy of Greene Naftali Gallery.

In the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery from January 29 to March 1, Studio Art faculty members Jeffrey Schiff and Sasha Rudensky curate Picture/Thing, an exhibition featuring the work of ten artists working at the intersection of photography and sculpture.

In April and May, we present “The Connecticut Meets the Nile,” a two-part happening that will highlight two great rivers. On April 10, Crowell Concert Hall hosts The Nile Project, an all-star gathering of musicians who live in the countries that border the Nile River and have come together to create music that draws attention to the environmental issues of a historic river that sustains millions of people. Then on May 9, at Middletown’s Harbor Park, Wesleyan and regional partner organizations present Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter, an afternoon of music performances, visual art, and kid’s activities that will engage our community with our own beautiful river.
And throughout the winter and spring, you can put your finger on the pulse of what’s inspiring our newest artists by visiting the Senior Thesis Exhibitions in Zilkha Gallery, or by attending thesis performances by music, dance, and theater students performed throughout the CFA.
It’s all here for you. We hope you’ll join us.
Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

The “Tuesdays with Wesleyan Composers” concert series culminated in a collaborative show featuring members of the composition seminar taught by the esteemed David Behrman on December 5, 2014, at World Music Hall. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

 

 

London vocalist Veronica Doubleday accompanied her singing of Persian-language texts on daireh frame drum, and John Baily joined her on the two-stringed dutar lute on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, at CFA Hall. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

Veronica Doubleday, Visiting Fellow at Goldsmiths, London University, considered the emotional impact of songs and dance from the western Afghan city of Herat during a talk on December 3, 2014, at CFA Hall. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

 

 

John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Neely Bruce conducted the WesWinds fall concert on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, at Crowell Concert Hall. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.

 

Older Posts »

Log in