It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to write about Feet to the Fire, our campus-wide exploration of climate change from science to art. The initiative made possible the creation of four new works by members of Wesleyan’s arts faculty. If you haven’t been to the Feet to the Fire website recently, then you probably haven’t seen the podcasts we produced about two of them: Ron Kuivila’s The Weather, at Six and Alvin Lucier’s Glacier.
The video about Hari Krishnan’s work Liquid Shakti is still in production, but this Friday night in the Schoenberg Dance Studio, we’ll have the opportunity to see the fourth and final commissioned work performed live! Threshold Sites, choreographed by Nicole Stanton in collaboration with Wesleyan students and faculty, was originally scheduled to premiere last May, but because of the tragic events at the end of the semester, the performances were postponed.
Associate Professor of Dance, and Chair of the Dance Department, Nicole Stanton created the work over the course of last spring working with students in her Repertory and Performance course. In conjunction with the Feet to the Fire theme, Stanton invited three professors to co-create a curriculum with her that used research methodologies from social science, evolutionary biology, experiential anatomy, and dance to examine some of the relations between body/self, home/community, and environment/ecosystem, through the lens of food. The resulting multi-media performance weaves dance, song, spoken word…and a meal.
Gina Ulysse in Anthropology provided students with an understanding of theories emanating from the field of cultural studies as they relate to somatic, community, and ecological awareness. Michael Singer from Biology familiarized students with how an ecologist uses practices of scientific observation in the field, taking students out into nature to see how he sees. Andrea Olson, a visiting scholar from Middlebury College in Biology and Dance, conducted an intensive workshop that focused on the development of awareness and respect for the human body and for the environment and charted the relationships between the two. Stanton then synthesized the information into movement expressions and choreographed the work.
“This was a different choreographic experience for me,” she said in an interview I had with her yesterday. “Usually I take an emergent form or context that develops in the studio and the research springs from that investigation. Because of the Feet to the Fire commission, I took a topical approach for the first time.” Friday night’s performance includes a multi-generation cast–three of the original cast members (others graduated), two students who are new to the work, two faculty members (Stanton and Katja Kolcio, Associate Professor of Dance) and four guest artists (Kolcio’s parents and in-laws who are all professional performers!). The work features group segments, a solo by Stanton, and music from around the world, including Ukrainian, German, American, and Senegalese folk traditions. The performance is followed by a communal feast to be shared with the audience.
Threshold Sites: The Ultimate Meal
Schonberg Dance Studio, 247 Pine Street
Friday, December 4, 2009 at 8pm
Seating is limited; to reserve your seat, contact Michele Olerud in the Dance Department, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 860-685-3488
Director, Center for the Arts