Samantha Speis, Dancer and Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women, taught a Master Class that explored diverse dance techniques on Saturday, March 5, 2016 in the Cross Street Dance Studio during DanceMasters Weekend. Click here to view the full album on Flickr. Photos by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography.
The Center for the Arts is one of the rare places in the state where you can consistently experience arts from around the world. This semester is no exception. In January and February, the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery hosts the work of ten contemporary Chinese artists born after the Cultural Revolution who are challenging traditional notions of Chinese identity and inventing new ways to shout out in the global arena. In February, Syrian singer Gaida brings her band to Crowell Concert Hall. At a time when her country is under siege, her soulful voice will remind us of the beauty and power of Syrian music and culture. And playwright Guillermo Calderón will discuss his award-winning works about Chile in the aftermath of the dictatorship.
The CFA is also the home of countless premieres. In April, you’ll be the first to hear Harlem Heiroglyphs, a new album by composer, vibraphonist, and Adjunct Professor of Music Jay Hoggard, both in concert and as the music for Storied Places, directed and choreographed by Dance Department Chair Nicole Stanton with text by Center for African American Studies Professor Lois Brown.
Finally, the Music Department will host a March symposium on the work of the legendary experimental music composer David Tudor and, in April, the Theater Department offers Wes Out-Loud, a site-specific work created by Assistant Professor Marcela Oteíza and her students.
The semester ends on May 7 with Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter, the second annual eco-arts festival featuring world music bands, educational exhibits, and site-specific performance works by area organizations at Middletown’s Harbor Park, located on the bank of the Connecticut River.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
Director, Center for the Arts
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.
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.
“A startlingly original talent” (The New York Times), choreographer and director Faye Driscoll is a Creative Campus Fellow at Wesleyan during the fall of 2014, researching and developing “Thank You For Coming: Play,” one of a series of works she will be creating over the next several years. Photos from her artist talk on Thursday, September 11, 2014 in the Cross Street Dance Studio. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.
This year, we invite you to join us as we welcome the world to Wesleyan. Artists working in contemporary or traditional forms from 18 different countries will be performing or exhibiting at the CFA over the next nine months.
A centerpiece of this year’s program is Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan, which begins in September. Each of the performers to be featured is Muslim or of Muslim heritage, has a distinct set of personal experiences, and is embedded in a particular place, society, and cultural tradition. It is our way of inviting audiences to celebrate the complexity of Muslim women today, while at the same time exploring the historical and cultural context from which these women have emerged. We are also inviting audiences to participate in the creative process as we give birth to a new play by Leila Buck ’99, based on stories of Muslim and Muslim-American women in our region.
We are also bringing one of the United States’ most innovative theater companies working at the intersection of text and technology, The Builders Association, for two performances in October. Their amazing production Sontag: Reborn is a portrait of the younger years of one of America’s most iconic intellectuals, Susan Sontag. In November, the Theater and Music Departments join forces to mount the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights, directed by Theater’s Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento with music direction by Nadya Potemkina, director of the Wesleyan University Orchestra. The musical was the thesis production of Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Theater major who graduated in ’02, who went on to win the Tony for “Best Original Score.” The book was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, who will be a visiting faculty member at Wesleyan this year. It is sure to be an extraordinary production. And throughout the fall, the epic-scale, haunting landscape paintings of Professor of Art Tula Telfair will be on view in Zilkha Gallery. We invite you to enter into the imaginary worlds that Telfair creates in twelve large-scale paintings that are simultaneously awe-inspiring and intimate.
We launched our new website over the summer, and we hope you’ll visit and return often to find out about all of the faculty, student, and visiting artist events and exhibitions this year. We hope you will look to us as a place of enlightenment and enjoyment in the coming months.
Center for the Arts
CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton about her commissioned work “Threshold Sites: Feast.” This Spring Faculty Dance Event will take place on Friday, April 25 at 7pm, and Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 2pm and 7pm in the new Cross Street Dance Studio, located at 160 Cross Street in Middletown.
Social media such as YouTube and Facebook have all but eliminated formerly unbridgeable distances between people and communities across the world. We are more connected today than ever before.
Coupled with growing concern for the environment, our increased connectivity demands that we reconsider our understanding of community. What does it mean to be part of a community? How can we foster local communities in an increasingly globalized world? How can human communities exist in harmony with nature?
The notion of community is central to this year’s Spring Faculty Dance Event. Created and directed by Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton, Threshold Sites: Feast explores the relationships between bodies, communities, and environments through the lens of food.
“Something about the way you live in and experience your body is related to the way you live in and relate to your community and your environment,” says Ms. Stanton.
Food relates to it all. We eat to nourish our bodies, come together to break bread, and depend on the earth for our food. Food sustains every life, family, and community.
In recent years, food has become a hot topic of debate and conversation.
“There is so much controversy surrounding food production and food security right now,” says Stanton. “So much talk about what diet is good for you and for the planet.”
Threshold Sites: Feast is the culmination of Ms. Stanton’s engagement in the College of the Environment’s 2013-2014 Think Tank: Re-Envisioning the Commons. Over the course of this school year, the Think Tank has made efforts to expand discourse between economists, scientists, ecologists, and ethicists by bringing the humanities and performing arts into the conversation.
Ms. Stanton will perform in the work alongside Rachel Boggia, Deborah Goffe, Nik Owens ’12, and Wesleyan Artist in Residence in West African Dance Iddi Saaka. They are a diverse group, with backgrounds in myriad dance forms and roots across the globe.
“It was an extremely collaborative process,” says Ms. Stanton. “The question being how do all these different bodies come together in a process that feels full and rich and challenging to everyone.”
As part of the rehearsal process, Ms. Stanton prompted all of her dancers to reflect on their personal and shared experiences with food. They collected stories about memorable meals and songs about feasting — weaving many voices together into one rich sound score that backgrounds the event.
Some of the foods discussed in the sound score, many of them cherished family recipes, will be served to the audience. Yes, there will be literal feasting.
Ms. Stanton intends to source some of the food from Wesleyan’s own Long Lane Farm. Greg Foley ’16 has been collaborating with Ms. Stanton on a documentary, which parallels the rehearsal process for Threshold Sites: Feast with the process of getting the farm up and running.
Threshold Sites: Feast will be the first performance to take place in the Wesleyan Dance Department’s new studio on Cross Street. Formerly the A.M.E. Zion Church, the building has been remodeled into a beautiful dance studio that can also be converted into a black box theater.
Spring Faculty Dance Event
Threshold Sites: Feast
Friday, April 25, 2014 at 7pm
Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 2pm & 7pm
Cross Street Dance Studio
$3 Wesleyan students, $5 all others.
Supported by the Dance Department, the Center for the Arts’ Creative Campus Initiative with leadership funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the College of the Environment.
CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton about Dance Theatre of Harlem, Souleymane Badolo, and Ronald K. Brown, who will be featured as part of the 15th annual DanceMasters Weekend Showcase Performance on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8pm in the CFA Theater.
This Saturday marks the 15th annual DanceMasters Weekend Showcase Performance, bringing to the stage the work of four renowned choreographers: Souleymane Badolo, Ronald K. Brown, and works by Robert Garland and Helen Pickett performed by Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Mr. Badolo is the 2014 recipient of the Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award. Born in Burkina Faso, Mr. Badolo’s choreography is steeped in personal heritage and infused with worldly style. He began his career dancing with traditional African dance company the DAMA. In 1993, Mr. Badolo co-founded Kongo Ba Téria, a contemporary dance company based in the capital, Ouagadougou. After relocating to the United States in 2009, Mr. Badolo won the second annual Juried Bessie Award in 2012.
Wesleyan Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton says of Mr. Badolo, “He has his own take on how to weave together different forms and find personal expression in them. He represents a growing contemporary dance movement taking place in continental Africa, one that is blossoming in a really interesting way.”
Mr. Badolo has performed twice before at Wesleyan — first in the New England premiere of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Nora Chipaumire’s visible as part of the Breaking Ground Dance Series in October 2012, and again in July 2013 as the Danspace/Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance Creative Residency Artist on the CFA’s summer series.
[On Saturday, Mr. Badolo will be performing the New England premiere of an excerpt from Benon (2014), conceived and choreographed by Meritxell Barberá and Inma García, and set to traditional songs from Burkina Faso recorded by Victor Deme, Mahamad Billa, and Dankan Faso. Benon premiered in February 2014 at Danspace Project in New York City. Roughly translated to “harvest,” Benon is inspired by the Burkinabé tradition of dancing to celebrate the harvest.]
A second artist with a rich history of performing at Wesleyan, Ronald K. Brown returns to campus this weekend with his company, Evidence. Founded by Mr. Brown in 1985, the Brooklyn-based contemporary dance ensemble honors the human experience in the African diaspora through dance and storytelling. Their work fuses traditional African dance with contemporary choreography and often incorporates spoken word.
“There’s this sense of seamless flow in how he weaves together different movements,” says Ms. Stanton, who’s been following their work since the mid-1990s. “There’s something transcendent about him and his dancers.”
On Saturday, Evidence will perform Come Ye (2002), an original work by Mr. Brown set to the music of Nina Simone and Fela Kuti, which had been commissioned by the Center for the Arts in honor of the 30th anniversary of the CFA during the 2003-2004 season [the work received its New England premiere on the Breaking Ground Dance Series in February 2004.]
Mr. Brown has been a strong advocate for the growth of an African-American dance community throughout his career, a community to which the Dance Theatre of Harlem has made invaluable contributions.
Co-founded in 1969 by acclaimed ballet instructor Karel Shook and the New York City Ballet’s first African-American principal dancer Arthur Mitchell, Dance Theatre of Harlem became the first ballet company in America comprised entirely of black dancers. The company has since toured to over 40 countries on 6 continents. Dance Theatre of Harlem encompasses a leading arts education center, founded shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a mission to make dance accessible to all children in New York City, and specifically in Harlem, where Mr. Mitchell grew up.
[Dance Theatre of Harlem will be performing the Connecticut premieres of both New Bach (1999) a witty confection of urban post-modern neoclassicism choreographed by Robert Garland and set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach; and choreographer Helen Pickett’s passionate duet When Love (2012), a journey of discovery as a man and a woman open themselves to the tenderness and wonder of the human embrace, set to music by Philip Glass. This performance at Wesleyan will be the first appearance by Dance Theatre of Harlem in Connecticut since December 2003 at Foxwoods Resort Casino.]
Currently under the artistic directorship of Virginia Johnson, a founding member of Dance Theatre of Harlem and former principal dancer, the company continues to expand its community and education outreach efforts both nationally and internationally with their program Dancing Through Barriers.
And dancing through barriers is precisely what the work of Mr. Badolo, Mr. Brown, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem does. It is their ability to gracefully meld dance forms from disparate places, traditions, and eras that unites their work.
As Ms. Stanton phrased it, “There’s a fusion of techniques from across the African diaspora.”
They dance across borders and choreograph in the space between past and present, drawing from history and tradition to propel contemporary dance forward.
“The performance makes you ask a question about tradition,” says Ms. Stanton. “What do we mean when we say something is ‘traditional’ or not? What does it mean to be ‘contemporary’?”
15th annual DanceMasters Weekend
Saturday, March 8 & Sunday, March 9, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8pm
$28 general public; $24 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $8 Wesleyan students
Thirteen Master Classes will provide an opportunity for intermediate to advanced dance students and dance professionals to explore diverse dance techniques. Asterisks (*) denote the four teachers who will be teaching their first DanceMasters Weekend Master Class at Wesleyan in 2014.
On Saturday, March 8, Master Classes will be taught by the following six teachers:
Brandon “Peace” Albright (Artistic Director of Illstyle & Peace Productions, teaching a Hip Hop Master Class)
*Souleymane Badolo (the 2014 Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award recipient, teaching “Souleymane Badolo Repertory: A New Voice in African Dance”)
Ronald K. Brown (Artistic Director of Evidence Dance Company)
*Michelle Dorrance (Artistic Director of Dorrance Dance/New York, teaching a Tap Master Class)
*Virginia Johnson (Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem)
Eddie Taketa (Doug Varone & Dancers)
On Sunday, March 9, Master Classes will be taught by the following seven teachers:
*Maria Bauman (Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women)
Brian Brooks (Artistic Director of Brian Brooks Moving Company)
Bill Hastings (Broadway veteran, teaching a Jazz Dance Master Class)
Carolyn Kirsch (Broadway veteran, teaching “Never Stop Moving: A Fosse-Style Jazz Workshop for Older Dancers”)
Ryoko Kudo (Limón Dance Company)
Nicholas Leichter (Artistic Director of Nicholas Leichter Dance)
Aubrey Lynch (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)
To see the full Master Class schedule, please click here. DanceMasters Weekend Master Classes are $19 per class for the general public (plus a $6 registration fee), and $13 per class for Wesleyan students. A Weekend Pass, which includes five Master Classes and one ticket to the Showcase Performance, is $100 for the general public (plus a $6 registration fee), and $73 for Wesleyan students. To register for Master Classes, or to purchase a Weekend Pass, please call or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office at 860-685-3355.