Rachel Boggia majored in neuroscience at Cornell and went onto receive her MFA in Dance from Ohio State. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the dance department. Perfect profile for Wesleyan, right? This weekend, we have the opportunity to see her work as a choreographer and as a dancer, alongside her colleague, Artist-in-Residence Iddi Saaka, in an evening of solos and duets entitled, Connection. Some of you may remember that last year Rachel’s faculty dance performance had to be canceled because of a last-minute injury (by last-minute, I mean it happened when she was warming up an hour before her first performance!) So some of us have great anticipation at seeing the work of someone who has been such an energizing presence in the arts here since she arrived in the Fall of 2008.
Saaka, a Ghanaian who heads the department’s West African dance program, will perform a solo he choreographed. Entitled Belonging, the piece addresses the restricted flow of movement across borders. When I spoke with him earlier today, he talked about how many Africans want to leave their homeland to see the world, but so few visas are granted. The work asks the question— how does that kind of hindrance play out in your psyche? He will also perform Looking for Evidence, a duet choreographed and danced with Liam Clancy, Saaka’s former classmate from UCLA’s World Arts and Culture graduate school. The work explores human commonalities despite issues of race. Saaka comments, “On the surface we are the same: we are both male dancers, we look the same, we went to the same school, we are friends, but how are we different? And how are these differences danced?”
Boggia will also be collaborating with former classmates from graduate school at Ohio State. (She said they’ve known each other for over eight years and have kept in very close touch.) Choreographer Vanessa Justice has created a work entitled Visitor, a meditation on personal identity. In an interview, she said that the metaphor of taking off clothing is used. “The character is shedding the layers that society has imposed on her…Since I am performing in my own culture, the work is less about cultural identity and more about personal identity.” The next solo is by choreographer Marlon Barrios Solano who, like Justice, is now based in New York. It is an improvised work inspired by the films of Maya Deren (an American avant-garde filmmaker and theorist of the 40s and 50s).
The final work on the program is Jovain Sweet, choreographed by Boggia and danced by Boggia and Saaka, inspired by the break-up of a relationship. The dancers will wear elaborate headdresses that will conceal their identities allowing the dancers to assume a number of symbolic meanings.
It promises to be a widely varied and engaging concert.
Fall Faculty Dance Concert
Friday & Saturday, October 30 & 31 at 8pm
Patricelli ’92 Theater
Director, Center for the Arts