Big Weekend at the CFA (Nov. 18-19)

Eugene O'Neill, Cape Cod, 1922

I was one of the lucky people to have a ticket for The Great God Brown last night, the Theater Department’s production directed by Associate Professor Yuriy Kordonskiy. I can tell you it’s a massive undertaking in which an extraordinary ensemble of our top student actors explore the duality of personalities: our struggles between indulgence and restraint; who people expect us to be and who we truly are; our rational and irrational selves.  All played out on an inventive, flexible set that is dramatically lit to move the action forward.  As of this writing, there are still tickets for the Saturday matinee.

The Great God Brown
By Eugene O’Neill
Directed by Yuriy Kordonskiy
Designed by Jack Carr, Marcela Oteiza, and Leslie Weinberg

Wednesday, November 16 through Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8pm
Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 2pm & 8pm
CFA Theater
$8 general public; $5 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $4 Wesleyan students

Bebe Miller Company: "History"

The Dance Department and Center for the Arts welcome Bebe Miller Company to the Patricelli ’92 Theater this weekend for three performances. Bebe is a master contemporary dance choreographer who has influenced the work of numerous dance makers who have worked with her over the years. In her newest work, History, she asks the question: how are dances made and how can we give our audiences a window into our creative process? Audiences coming to the ’92 will be invited into an installation and then engage in a performance by veteran company members Angie Hauser and Darrell Jones.  In Bebe’s words:  “Dance works are made of a complex mix of ideas, physical practice, forgetting, remembering, minor epiphanies and daily discoveries, joined together piece-by-piece in the evolving circumstance of creative research over time. [History is] an archeological dig into our continuously evolving manner of asking questions about people, relationships, and the culture in which we live.” She’s collaborated with long-time dramaturg, Talvin Wilks, and video artist (and Wes alum!) Lily Skove, in the making of the work.  Wesleyan audiences will be invited to give Bebe feedback about the work in a Q&A session following each performance.

Bebe Miller Company: “History
Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8pm
Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 2pm & 8pm
Patricelli ’92 Theater
Pre-performance talk with dance scholar Debra Cash on Friday at 7:15pm, Memorial Chapel
$23 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Joshua Roman. Photo by Jeremy Sawatzky.

Finally, tomorrow night, you’ll have the opportunity to see cello virtuoso, Joshua Roman, at Crowell Concert Hall.  Because of his charismatic presence, at age 27 he’s already been dubbed a “classical rock star” by the press. He was the principal cellist for the Seattle Symphony at the young age of 22 and since then has earned a national reputation for performing a wide range of repertoire with an absolute commitment to communicating the essence of the music at its most organic level. This year he was named a 2011 TED Fellow, joining a select group of Next Generation innovators of unusual accomplishments with the potential to positively affect the world.  You really have to hear this young man live to understand his power…and you can see what Yo-Yo Ma had to say about him here

Joshua Roman
Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
Pre-performance talk at 7:15pm by Julie Ribchinsky, Wesleyan Private Lessons Teacher
$22 general public; $18 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Hope to see you this weekend.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

A “21st Century Gazelle” at Crowell Concert Hall This Sunday, Oct. 30

We invited Hari Krishnan, Artist in Residence in the Dance Department, to write to us about Sunday’s performance by Rama Vaidyanathan.  Here’s what he said:


Hari Krishnan and Rama Vaidyanathan

Rama is a leading Bharatanatyam dancer from her generation in India today. Through sheer hard work and constantly creating new innovative dances, Rama has transformed the traditional solo dance of Bharatanatyam into a vibrant, dynamic and engaging solo dance style – current and relevant for a 21st century global audience. This is why she is much sought after by the most avant-garde theaters/festivals in Europe to the most conservative classical arts-friendly venues in India. Rama’s Bharatanatyam cuts across linguistic, social, political and cultural boundaries.

Rama is also a dear friend and I remember in the summer of 2010 when we were on the teaching faculty for a dance residency in the U.K., the students had insisted that we perform together. Not having prepared any piece, we improvised right there and then a nouveau-Bharatanatyam duet to the delight of all present.

Being a contemporary dance and Bharatanatyam dance artist myself, I wasn’t too sure if Rama would be game to improvising a duet with me involving close physical touch. I was struck at Rama’s versatility not only to passionate collaborate but also boldly bringing her art into new experimental terrains while still maintaining her identity of that of a classical Bharatanatyam dancer. She is able to bring out the inherent beauty of the Bharatanatyam form with her creativity and genuine love for the dance.

I am delighted Rama is performing at Wesleyan with her team of stellar musicians [vocalist Indu Sivankutty Nair, violinist Vikram Raghukumar, K. Sivakumar on nattuvangam, and Kalapurakkal Arun Kumar on mridangam], offering her dazzling, highly individual brand of Bharatanatyam. Wesleyan is truly in for a treat of innovation, grace and pure joy – a Bharatanataym 21st century gazelle will be strutting her stuff on the Crowell Concert Hall stage this Sunday afternoon.


35th annual Navaratri Festival
Rama Vaidyanathan: Bharata Natyam

Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 2pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$15 general public; $12 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

We invited B. Balasubrahmaniyan, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music, to write to us about Saturday night’s performance by T.M. Krishna.  Here’s what he said:


T.M. Krishna

Krishna is a vibrant musician of South Indian classical Karnatak music. He is young, but very senior in artistry of this music. I have been listening to him since he was a teenager.  His ability, confidence and perfectionism keep him busy.  He spent years learning from the great masters Seetharama Sharma, Chengalpattu Ranganathan and Semmangudi Srinivasa Ayyar. His training combined with pure passion and hard work brought high acclaim at a very young age.  His recent work as a Jugalbandi performer with North Indian musicians is one more step to popularize South Indian classical music in the northern region.

In addition to his musical artistry, he is a also a renowned teacher and scholar.  He is a Founding Trustee of Jnanarnava Trust, an organization devoted to the research, documentation and archiving of the ancient traditions in Carnatic music. In 2006, the trust launched its Audio Archival Project of the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini. This text, published in 1904 in Telugu, is of seminal importance in understanding the changes and developments in Carnatic music over the past 200 years. This was the first text that gave an authoritative and comprehensive notating system to Carnatic music.

He is noted for performing and teaching in remote areas for people who have not been exposed to Karnatak music. He’s also an expert at spotting rural talent and giving musicians the opportunity to learn and perform through his trust.

[T.M. Krishna will be accompanied by HK Venkatram on the violin and Trichy Sankaran on the mridangam.]

35th annual Navaratri Festival
T.M. Krishna
Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 7pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$15 general public; $12 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students.

Haveli India will present a bountiful meal, from appetizer to dessert, in World Music Hall at 5pm before the T.M. Krishna concert. Tickets, which include both the dinner and the concert, are $25 for the general public; $22 for senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff and non-Wesleyan students; and $13 for Wesleyan students.

Kelsey Siegel ’13, Visiting Dance Instructor Clyde Evans on Hip Hop, Rennie Harris Puremovement (Sept. 30 & Oct. 1)

Arts Administration Intern Joanna Bourain ’12 talks to Kelsey Siegel ’13 and Visiting Instructor in Dance Clyde Evans about Rennie Harris Puremovement.

On Friday September 30 and Saturday October 1, Rennie Harris Puremovement, a hip-hop group from Philadelphia, will showcase a performance in the Center for the Arts Theater. The company, started in 1992 by hip hop veteran Rennie Harris, aims to drive hip hop away from its current stereotypes and commercial manifestations and back to its urban street forms through lively performances. I sat down with dance major Kelsey Siegel ’13 and Visiting Instructor in Dance Clyde Evans to discuss the importance of this performance.

Kelsey Siegel, a member of Wesleyan’s Fusion hip hop dance group, sat down with me to talk about the significance of this performance. Kelsey explained that in her opinion, “hip hop is an important dance form because its expressiveness and liveliness can portray much more than just a narrative.”  She explained to me that Rennie Harris Puremovement is important because the group embeds a social message about hip hop within their dancing that battles stereotypes built up the media. “Hip hop is also a much more accessible dance form that allows for a hybridity of movements, dance styles, and cultures. This fusion of dance styles and culture is evident in Rennie Harris Puremovement’s integration of ballet-like moves, West-African body movements and gymnastic  break dance moves. They’ve taken a dance style developed in the street and have brought it into a theater, which allows for the dance form to be considered from a more critical perspective.”

Clyde Evans, Jr. is a Visiting Instructor in the Dance Department and is teaching two hip hop classes this semester.  Also from Philadelphia, he was a founding member of Rennie Harris’ company.  “This [event] will not only broaden the experience of the traditional theater-goer, it may also inspire or even prompt artists to rethink presentation/choreography of their art.”  Evans is excited to have his students see the company, and remembering what it was like to go on tour with the company, he’s also excited for the dancers. “The experience of traveling as a dancer and the well-rounded perspective of the world as seen through the eyes of an artist – it’s priceless. It’s amazing. It’s flying without wings. So my excitement is really for them.”

The company will present repertoire that spans its 20 year history set to music by the Headhunters, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Parliament Funkadelic, Groove Collective, and others.

Rennie Harris Puremovement
Friday, September 30 & Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 8pm
CFA Theater
Pre-performance talk with dance scholar Debra Cash on Friday at 7:15pm in CFA Hall
$23 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
Rennie Harris will give the Cynthia Novak Lecture entitled “Hip Hop History and Culture: Rage, Resistance and Regeneration” at 7pm on Thursday, September 29 at The Russell House, 350 High Street.
There will also be a dance masterclass for intermediate to advanced students on Saturday, October 1 at 11am in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio, 247 Pine Street.

Dewey Dell at Wesleyan: A U.S. Debut (September 9, 10 & 16)

Dewey Dell
Dewey Dell (left to right): Teodora Castellucci, Demetrio Castellucci, Agata Castellucci, and Eugenio Resta. Cesena, Italy. April 2009.

In the summer of 2009, Associate Professor and Chair of the Theater Department, Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, attended a festival of contemporary European performance at Centrale Fies, a venue that invests in the creation of new performance work located just outside of Trento, in Northern Italy.  There, she discovered Dewey Dell and was so taken by their work, their process and sheer talent, that she wanted to find a way to bring them to Wesleyan for an extended residency.

Formed in 2007 by Teodora, Demetrio, Agata Castellucci and Eugenio Resta, Dewey Dell’s founders grew up as artistic collaborators, sharing the important formative experience of the Stoa, a rhythmic movement and philosophy school of the Sociètas Raffaello Sanzio based in Cesena, Italy. The name Dewey Dell is a tribute to the young girl in William Faulkner’s 1930 novel, As I Lay Dying.

Nascimento wrote to me upon her return from Italy:

“Dewey Dell is the strongest representative of what is most innovative and sophisticated in the new generation of European stage artists. They perfectly integrate the actor’s bodies, visual elements, and soundscape to create performances that may at first resemble pure dance, but ultimately possess a dramaturgical treatment that brings them closest to theater. Through the exploration of themes ranging from an Eastern perspective on raw animal energy to an abstract interpretation of Western political history in the figure of Richard the Lionheart, their performances are at the same time nostalgic and deeply marked by post-modern art. Visually stunning and musically powerful, above all their pieces create a truly arresting experience for the audience.”

The Theater Department and Center for the Arts joined forces with Ellen Nerenberg, Professor of Italian and Chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literature, to create a two-week residency for the company that includes the presentation of à elle vide, the earliest work in their repertoire, and Cinquanta Urlanti Quaranta Ruggenti Sessanta Stridenti, their most recent work.  In between the two performances, the company members will be visiting with five different Italian classes and conducting a seven-day workshop on their generative process with theater and dance students.  At the same time, the members of Dewey Dell, who are close in age to Wesleyan students, will be experiencing life on an American campus.

Nascimento says, “my objective for their residency is to allow for a true exchange between Dewey Dell and Wesleyan students; the company is not only teaching a workshop, but also attending classes, eating at USDAN, socializing with students, meeting as many members of the Wesleyan community as possible; in short: establishing relationships and experiencing the university as maybe exchange/international students would.”

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

Dewey Dell: à elle vide
United States Premiere
Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 8pm
Patricelli ’92 Theater
$10 general public; $8 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $5 Wesleyan students

Dewey Dell: Cinquanta Urlanti 
Quaranta Ruggenti Sessanta Stridenti
United States Premiere
Friday, September 16, 2011 at 8pm
CFA Theater
$18 general public; $15 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Fall events include U.S. & New England Premieres, Navaratri Festival, Lucier Celebration

Center for the Arts Fall 2011At a time when so many of us are turning to YouTube to see performances by our favorite artists, we can lose sight of what it’s like to experience live performance. This fall, the Center for the Arts offers you a wide range of performances and exhibitions that will connect you with some of the brightest minds in contemporary art-making, transport you to foreign lands, and inspire you to think about the world in new ways—and the performers will never be more than 69 feet away!

We recognize that it has become increasingly difficult to classify a work as strictly music, dance, theater, visual art, or film as more artists are blurring the boundaries among disciplines. So we have merged our visiting artist performances into a single Performing Arts Series. We hope this will lead you to cross the boundaries of your own comfort zone and discover new artists and art forms.

Highlights of the fall season include the American premiere of the ground-breaking Italian movement theater collective Dewey Dell and the return of Philadelphia’s Rennie Harris Puremovement, that has been a trailblazer in taking hip hop forms from the street to the concert stage for nearly twenty years. We’ll also host two New England premieres: the astoundingly brilliant throat-singers and musicians from Inner Mongolia, AnDa Union and, continuing our collaboration with the College of the Environment, we’ll welcome Water is Rising, a breathtaking performance by a group of 35 dancers and musicians from the Pacific Island atolls, the first islands predicted to be submerged due to climate change. In November, the Music Department and CFA join forces to celebrate Alvin Lucier, internationally renowned composer who has just retired after serving on our faculty for four decades. Alvin Lucier: A Celebration features a major symposium, concert series, film screenings and an exhibition curated by Andrea Miller-Keller.

With performances and exhibitions by visiting artists, students and faculty, there is an extraordinary amount of good work to see at Wesleyan this fall, with 60% offered free to the public or at ticket prices that make us one of the most affordable venues in the state. Tickets are on sale now online. Starting at 10am on Tuesday, August 16, you can call or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office at 860-685-3355 to receive a 10% discount on your purchase of four or more Performing Arts Series events (and if you buy six or more “Performing Arts Series” events, you’ll save 15%!) Starting August 16, you will also be able to buy subscription packages for both the 35th annual Navaratri Festival (a 15% savings) as well as the Alvin Lucier Celebration (a 25% savings!)

Please join us. We appreciate that you believe, as we do, in the power of the arts to add meaning to our lives and to remind us of the capacity of the human spirit. Thanks for making Wesleyan’s CFA your center for the arts.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

Thesis Dance This Weekend: Spotlight on Sarah Ashkin ‘11

Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert
Photo by Lindsay Keys

Center for the Arts Intern Lucy Strother ’11 interviews dance thesis choreographer Sarah Ashkin ’11 in anticipation of this weekend’s Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert performances.

This Thursday through Saturday, senior dance majors will showcase their choreography at the Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert performances. I asked senior dance major Sarah Ashkin for some more information about the concerts and her featured work, Dismantle.

LS: Have the dance majors been giving and receiving feedback from each other all semester, or will this be the first time you see each other’s work?

SA: There is one thesis showing before the performance, where all the senior majors and faculty offer feedback for the works in progress.  By the time we get to the show, the pieces have usually changed drastically, sometimes based on the feedback and other times because the process of making art takes us on many detours. It’s tough to have spring break interrupting the process, so a lot of extra finesse goes into these last weeks.

LS: What themes have influenced and inspired your dance, Dismantle?

SA: Dismantle has been a dance research into the body of the capitalist worker, an investigation of how all of our bodies are greatly affected by the work environment of “produce, produce, produce.”   The body is literally maimed and forgotten in this process of “mind over matter” to meet the deadline.  My dancers and I have explored how to create the “factory body” and how to dismantle it.  However, this is just one narrative that can be read from the piece, and I am open and interested to hear any others from witnesses.

LS: How does Dismantle relate to your piece from fall semester and to the research component of your thesis?

SA: Last semester my piece Soft Catapult was interested in the different ways tension and release play out in public and private spaces.  It was a much more open and abstract collage of images than Dismantle, which I consider to be my most linear work.

Both pieces were spawned from my thesis research in what I am calling Somatic Cultural Praxis; in other words, those places and times in our lives where the connection between mind, body, and spirit is cultivated and expressed.  I see my dances as embodied research into how somatic praxis can be uniquely crafted in each group of dancers that I work with, and how we can present our inner findings in a public art setting.

LS: Why are you looking forward to the performances this weekend?

SA: I am most excited to have my little sister come see the show.  She hasn’t seen any of my work since I have been in college, and to finally show her what it is that I do, and hopefully impart to her why I believe dance is so important, will be really special.  But it is going to be a very bittersweet weekend.   The support that Wesleyan shows for student dance is really incredible. I am going to have to look long and hard to find anything as nurturing and challenging.

Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert
Thursday, March 31 – Saturday, April 2, 8pm
Patricelli ’92 Theater
$4 Wesleyan students, $5 all others

Who’s Who in the Creation of “The Matter of Origins”

Liz Lerman (Founding Artistic Director) is a choreographer, performer,
writer, educator and speaker. Described by the Washington Post as “the
source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art,”
her dance/theater works have been seen throughout the United States and
abroad. Her aesthetic approach spans the range from abstract to personal
to political, while her working process emphasizes research, translation
between artistic media and intensive collaboration with dancers,
communities and thinkers from diverse disciplines. She founded Liz Lerman
Dance Exchange in 1976 and has cultivated the company’s unique
multi-generational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance.
Liz has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the American
Choreographer Award, Washingtonian magazine’s 1988 Washingtonian of the
Year and a 2002 MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship. Liz’s work has been
commissioned by Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival, BalletMet, the
Kennedy Center and Harvard Law School, among many others. From 1994 to
1996, in collaboration with the Music Hall of Portsmouth, New Hampshire,
Liz directed the Shipyard Project, which has been widely noted as an
example of the power of art to enhance such values as social capital and
civic dialogue. From 1999 to 2002 she led Hallelujah, which engaged people
in 15 cities throughout the United States in the creation of a series of
dances “in praise of” topics vital to their communities. She created
Ferocious Beauty: Genome, premiered in 2006, with the participation of
more than 30 scientists and has toured it to sites throughout North
America, including the Mayo Clinic and the Ontario Genomics Institute. Liz
addresses arts, community and business organizations both nationally and
internationally. Sites of recent speaking engagements include the Abbey
Theatre in Dublin, the Big Intensive at Sadler’s Wells in London, and
Harvard University. She is the author of Teaching Dance to Senior Adults
(1983) and Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process (2003), and has written
articles and reviews for such publications as Faith and Form, Movement
Research and Washington Post Book World. Co-commissioned by the University
of Maryland and Montclair State University, her newest work, The Matter of
Origins, examines the question of beginnings through dance, media and
innovative formats for conversation. Her collection of essays, titled
Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer, is due out from
Wesleyan University Press in spring of 2011. Born in Los Angeles and
raised in Milwaukee, Liz attended Bennington College and Brandeis
University, received her B.A. in dance from the University of Maryland,
and an M.A. in dance from George Washington University. She is married to
storyteller Jon Spelman. Their daughter Anna recently graduated from

Amelia Cox (Creative Producer) has been working in performance since 1989.
For several years post-college she worked nationally and internationally
with Double Edge Theater (MA) and the Gardzienice Center for Theatre
Practices (Poland), making theater happen in spaces from a
nineteenth-century barn in Massachusetts to a hilltop medieval fortress in
Romania. She came to the mid-Atlantic region in 2002 as the technical
director of Baltimore Theatre Project. Since 2005 she has worked at Dance
Exchange, leading production for the premieres of Small Dances About Big
, Ferocious Beauty: Genome, Man/Chair Dances, Funny Uncles, Imprints
on a Landscape: The Mining Project
, 613 Radical Acts of Prayer, The
Farthest Earth from Thee
, Drift and now The Matter of Origins. With Dance
Exchange she has also remounted several other dances, and traveled to
sites from Vancouver, BC, to Burlington, VT, for the company’s animated
keynotes. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Hope College (MI), and an
M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College (NC).

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Ami Dowden-Fant (Adjunct Artist) began her
dance training at the Richmond Dance Center. She has received numerous
special recognitions including the Outstanding Choreographer and Performer
Award from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a two-year scholarship to
attend the Bates Dance Festival, where she worked with Doug Varone, Robert
Moses, Joanna Mendl Shaw and Bebe Miller. Recently Ami pursued her B.F.A.
in Dance and Choreography at Virginia Commonwealth University where she
studied with Gerri Houlihan, Heidi Weiss, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Tania
Issac and Dr. James Frazier. Ami has danced for Starr Foster Dance
Project, Charles O. Anderson and Gesel Mason with Mason/Rhynes
Performance Projects. Her work has been performed at the National American
College Dance Festival Gala in New York City at Barnard College, Koresh Artist
Showcase and the CEC in Philadelphia. Currently Ami is freelancing in
Philadelphia. She is in the lab with her company hersouldances
( working on new projects. She dedicates her hard work,
love and commitment for dance to her grandfather.

Thomas Dwyer (Company Member) began a dance career with Liz Lerman
Dance Exchange after retiring from the U.S. government service in June 1988.
His choreography, known for employing community-based seniors, has been
presented at Dance Place, the Church Street Theatre in Washington D.C. and
the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.

Sarah Gubbins (Dramaturg) is a Chicago playwright whose most recent play,
Fair Use, was produced at Actor’s Express in Atlanta after being developed
at the Steppenwolf Theater Company. Her plays have also been read or
developed at the Public Theater, About Face Theatre, Chicago Dramatists,
Next Theatre Company and Collaboraction.

Matt Hubbs (Associate Sound Designer) has recently designed Telephone for
the Foundry Theatre, 1001 at Mixed Blood Theatre, Blueprints of Relentless
and 613 Radical Acts of Prayer for Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, 100
Saints You Should Know
at Playwrights Horizons, and the National
Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. A company
member of the TEAM, he has designed Architecting, Particularly in the
, a Thousand Natural Shocks, and Mission Drift. As an associate
designer, he has recently worked at MTC’s Friedman Theatre, the Ethel
Barrymore Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, The
Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club and La Jolla Playhouse. He has also
toured with SITI Company and the rachel’s band. He received his B.A. in
Philosophy as a University Scholar at Xavier University.

Ted Johnson (Adjunct Artist) is a dancer of long standing with the
company. He was a member of Bebe Miller Company (1995-2003) and Ralph
Lemon Company (1994-95). He has also worked with choreographers Amy Sue
Rosen, David Alan Harris, Sarah Pogostin, Eun Me Ahn, Cheng-Chieh Yu and
more recently, Colleen Thomas and Bill Young, among others. His
improvisational work has been featured in collaborative ventures onstage
with Kirstie Simson, Gabriel Forestieri and Kayoko Nakajima. Ted has a
background in visual arts (drawing, photography, painting and design),
theater and voice. He has been a student of Klein/Mahler Technique with
Barbara Mahler and Susan Klein for over a decade, and continues a practice
in contact improvisation (CI).

Meg Kelly (Production Coordinator and Assistant Stage Manager) joined
Dance Exchange full time in December 2008 after stage managing The
Farthest Earth from Thee
(Capital Fringe 2007) and Muscle and Mortar
(Capital Fringe 2008). She works behind the scenes to keep Dance
Exchange’s productions running smoothly and serves as the stage manager
for Drift, Blueprints of Relentless Nature, Running with the Wind and
numerous keynotes, company concerts and community projects. She has
worked locally at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Round House Theatre
and holds a B.F.A. in theater design and technology from the University of

Logan Kibens (Projection Design) is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker. Her
work as a video designer includes projects in Chicago for Steppenwolf
Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Lucky Plush and Lookingglass Theatre, and in
D.C. at The Washington Opera. Her films have screened at venues such as
The Chicago International Film Festival, The Brooklyn Museum of Art and
REDCAT Theater Los Angeles. Currently her film Recessive, a
narrative/documentary hybrid, is touring festivals. She holds an M.F.A. in
Film Directing from CalArts.

Lisa LaCharite-Lostritto (Tea Graphics Designer) is a designer currently
operating in the Boston area. With a professional education in
architecture, Lisa’s research, practice and teaching focuses on harvesting
history, culture and collective human consciousness in the experimental
shaping of visual environments. Lisa is co-founder of 0095b6, a
collaboration providing services in graphic, media and architectural
design. Before relocating to the Boston area in 2010 she was an adjunct
instructor at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. In this role she
revised and evolved the advanced digital graphics courses for interior and
exhibit design students.

Sarah Levitt (Company Member) is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher
based in the Washington, D.C. area. She received her B.A. in Dance from
the University of Maryland, College Park in 2007, where she held a
Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship in Dance and was awarded the
Dorothy Madden Emerging Artist Award upon graduation. Sarah has danced in
the work of Robert Battle, Liz Lerman, Gesel Mason, Cassie Meador, Tzveta
Kassabova, PearsonWidrig DanceTheater, and Keith Thompson. Sarah began
working with the Dance Exchange in 2007, and became a full-time company
member in 2010. She has performed and taught with the company at theatres,
universities, senior centers and in community settings across the U.S. and
abroad. Sarah’s work has been presented by Dance Place, McDonogh School,
and Artomatic, and she is the recipient of Individual Artist Awards from
the Maryland State Arts Council in Choreography (2009) and Solo
Performance (2010). She and company member Benjamin Wegman are 2011
recipients of the Kennedy Center’s Local Dance Commissioning Project for
their new work, Hammock, which will premiere in fall 2011 on the Kennedy
Center’s Millennium Stage.

Michael Mazzola‘s (Scenic and Lighting Designer) critically lauded designs
have been in venues in the U.S. and Europe, ranging from opera houses to
circus tents to outdoor amphitheaters. A three-time BESSIE Award winner,
he has recently designed lighting and scenery for National Ballet of
Finland, Oregon Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Bebe Miller
Company, Rumpus Room, Royal Ballet of Flanders and Liz Lerman Dance
Exchange. In the past two years Michael has achieved awards on the West
Coast for his lighting of musical theater and drama.

Paloma McGregor (Adjunct Artist) is a New York-based dancer,
choreographer and co-founder of Angela’s Pulse, a collaborative performance company.
Her choreography has been presented throughout New York, including
at The Kitchen, Harlem Stage, EXIT Art, the Brecht Forum, Tribeca Performing Arts
Center and Bronx Academy of Art and Dance, as well as at Yale University,
UCLA, The Dance Place in Washington D.C. and Cleveland Public Theatre. Her
current project, Blood Dazzler, is a dance theater adaptation of poet
Patricia Smith’s award-winning book about Hurricane Katrina; the
evening-length work premiered in September 2010 at Harlem Stage. Paloma
has performed at City Center, the Joyce Theater, the Kennedy Center, BAM
and the United Nations. She toured internationally for five years with the
critically acclaimed Urban Bush Women dance company. Paloma earned her
B.S. in Journalism (Florida A & M University) and her M.F.A. in Dance
(Case Western Reserve University).

Cassie Meador (Company Member) is a choreographer, performer and teacher based
in Washington D.C. Originally from Georgia, she joined the Liz
Lerman Dance Exchange in 2002. She has created dances in communities
throughout the U.S. and internationally in Japan, Canada, London, Ireland
and Guyana. As an educator, she has taught at the Maryland Institute
College of Art, Dance Center — Columbia College in Chicago, Brown
University, Wesleyan University, Kyoto Arts Center, The Place, Sadler’s
Wells, Royal Opera House in London, Bates Dance Festival and American
Dance Festival. Cassie received her B.F.A. in Dance from The Ohio State
University, where she was the recipient of an honor’s research scholarship
in Choreography. Cassie currently serves as a Project Director and
choreographer at the Dance Exchange. In 2006 she co-directed the premiere
of 613 Radical Acts of Prayer: Opening Acts with Liz Lerman at the New
Jersey Performing Arts Center. In 2008, Cassie received a commissioning
grant from John F. Kennedy Center for her work, Drift, which has been
presented at the Kennedy Center, Dance Place and Kohler Arts Center. Her
work has also been presented at the Bealtaine Festival in Ireland, the
Asian Contemporary Art Museum in Fukuoka, Japan, Round House Theatre,
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and the Camden Opera House. She is
the recipient of the 2009 Metro D.C. Dance Award for emerging
choreographer. In 2009, Cassie was part of the Feet to the Fire project at
Wesleyan University, where she co-taught a course on tropical ecology with
artist Matt Mahaney and Professor Barry Chernoff. The team traveled to
Guyana and worked with science and art students to bring both artistic and
scientific tools to bear on such topics as ecology and global warming. Her
current choreographic project at the Dance Exchange, How To Lose a
, will include a 500-mile journey on foot from Washington, D.C. to
West Virginia to trace the sources of the energy that fuel her home.

Naoko Nagata (Costume Design) started her career as a biochemist in Japan.
In 1998 with no formal training, Nagata created her first costume (for
Jeanine Durning). Since then, she has been creating non-stop for a diverse
group of choreographers and dancers, collaborating with Amanda Loulaki,
Bebe Miller, David Dorfman Dance, Doug Elkins, David Neumann, Ellis Wood,
Gina Gibney, Liz Lerman, Nina Winthrop, Nora Chipaumire, Reggie Wilson,
Tiffany Mills, Urban Bush Women, Zvi Gotheiner and many others. Nagata
helps bring to life what she calls, “the creation of a shared dream.”

Tamara Hurwitz Pullman (Adjunct Artist) has danced with companies
including the Jose Limon Dance Company, Ann Vachon Dance Conduit, Pacific
Dance Ensemble and Rosanna Gamson Worldwide. As a dance educator, she has
taught dance to people of many ages and abilities in different settings
ranging from dance conservatories to YMCAs. She received her B.F.A. from
UMass Amherst and M.F.A. from Temple University. The Matter of Origins is
Tamara’s second project with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. She and her family
live in Los Angeles.

Shula Strassfeld (Company Member) began dancing “too late” and has been
dancing ever since. After training in New York with members of the Jose
Limon Company and Collete Barry and Susan Klein, Shula lived in the U.S.,
Israel and Canada. She has danced with choreographers Susan Rose, Joy
Kellman, Flora Cushman, Mirali Sharon, Jan Van Dyke and Sandra Neels.
Shula has an M.A. in Dance Education from Columbia University and has
taught at Trinity College (Hartford, CT), Rubin Academy of the Hebrew
University, York University and at the professional schools of Canadian
Ballet Theatre, Ballet Creole and the Kibbutz Dance Company. She joined
Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 2007.

Keith Thompson (Adjunct Artist and Rehearsal Director) is a choreographer,
performer and educator. He completed his M.F.A. Research Fellowship in
Dance from Bennington College in 2003. He performed with Trisha Brown
Dance Company for ten years, the last three of which he also served as
rehearsal director. Keith continues to represent TBDC in the sharing of
technique and repertory both at the Trisha Brown Studio in New York City
as well as at festivals, schools and workshops around the world. He has
also worked with Bebe Miller Company, Creach/Koeser Company and Danny
Buraczeski. As a choreographer and teacher, Keith has been on the
faculties of American Dance Festival, Shenandoah University, George Mason
University and Temple University. He continues to immerse himself in his
choreographic work with his own company danceTactics performance group,
which was formed in 2005. Keith has been commissioned to create works at
numerous universities including Muhlenberg College, Barnard College, James
Madison University, Duke University, Ursinus College and University of
Maryland College Park. Keith continues new research for new works and has
received support from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and the
Bossak/Heilbron Charitable Foundation Inc. His company is currently on the
boutique roster of Jodi Kaplan and Associates.

Benjamin Wegman (Company Member) is a performer, choreographer, and
teacher based in the Washington, D.C. area. Originally hailing from a town
called Normal, Benjamin joined the Dance Exchange in 2007.  With the
company he has worked to make dances with communities across the United
States and internationally in Canada, Japan, Ireland, Switzerland, and
France. A respected teacher, he has taught at the American Dance Festival,
University of Maryland, Towson University, Indiana University,
International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and the Japan Contemporary Dance
Network’s Dance Life Festival.  Benjamin had the honor of co-directing the
premiere of Hidden Snow Memory with Keith Thompson in Sapporo, Japan and
Tour Starts Here at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.  In 2010, he
collaboratively choreographed and directed House of Cars, a site-specific
work in a downtown D.C. parking garage, in collaboration with the National
Building Museum.  Currently, Benjamin is working on a new piece, Hammock,
with Sarah Levitt, set to premiere at the Kennedy Center in fall 2011.  As
a performer, he has danced with Jeanne Ruddy Dance, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers,
Keith Thompson’s danceTactics, Headlong Dance Theater, CityDance Ensemble,
SCRAP Performance Group, The Pillow Project, Troika Ranch, Meyer Chaffaud
Dance and was recently a featured dancer with the Washington National

Broadway and off-Broadway, Darron L. West‘s (Soundscape) work for dance
and theater has been heard in more than 400 productions all over Manhattan
as well as nationally and internationally. Among numerous nominations his
accolades for Sound Design include the 2006 Lortel and AUDELCO Awards,
2004 and 2005 Henry Hewes Design Awards, the Princess Grace, The Village
Voice OBIE Award, and the Entertainment Design magazine EDDY Award. He is
the sound designer and a founding member of Anne Bogart’s SITI Company. As
former Resident Sound Designer for Actors Theater of Louisville, his
directing credits include Kid Simple for the 2004 Humana New Play
Festival, Big Love for Austin’s Rude Mechs (Austin Critics Table Award
Best Director) and SITI’s War of the Worlds Radio Play National Tours and
Radio Macbeth.

Martha Wittman (Company Member) has been teaching, dancing and
choreographing for more than 50 years. As a young performer she danced
with the Juilliard Dance Theatre under the direction of Doris Humphrey and
in the companies of Ruth Currier, Joseph Gifford and Anna Sokolow. For
many years she was an associate choreographer with the Dances We Dance
Company directed by Betty Jones and Fritz Ludin. Her awards include three
National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Doris Humphrey Fellowship
from the American Dance Festival, Individual Artist Awards from the
Maryland Council on the Arts and two awards from Dance/USA’s National
College Choreography Initiative. She was a long-term member of the
Bennington College dance faculty in Vermont, and has been a guest artist,
teacher and choreographer in numerous colleges, universities and summer
dance programs around the country. Martha joined the Dance Exchange in
1996 and has been happily working with them ever since.

An Art/Science Experiment with Tea, Chocolate Cake and iPads

The Center for the Arts has had a deeply creative relationship with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange for the past eight years.  This Thursday, we partner with the company on an experiment that explores these questions:  What happens when you take the theatrical experience and place it at the heart of the campus in a non-traditional setting?  What happens when you employ the arts as a means of entering into scientific questions?  What’s it like to sit at a table with tea and chocolate cake and have a facilitated conversation about where we come from? (And you aid this exchange with iPads, projections, dancers, and yes, Wesleyan faculty, too!) We’ll see this Thursday when Time Has Set the Table for Tea: A Matter of Origins Project is presented at Beckham Hall at 7pm and 9:30pm.

Liz Lerman talks about the origins of this project:

It happened that the summer before meeting Gordy [Gordon Kane, Director of the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics] I’d read a wonderful book, Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’ s American Prometheus, about J. Robert Oppenheimer, who directed the atomic weapons research activities at Los Alamos during World War II. In it, one sentence in particular caught my eye and my inner ear: the mention of Edith Warner, whom Oppenheimer had hired to feed some of his fellow physicists on the secret project a few nights a week at her desert tea house. In an instant I imagined these people in her little space, eating, talking, questioning, wondering, and I mused on the possibility of the same for an audience.

[Time Has Set the Table for Tea] is inspired by tea house gatherings of Edith Warner, and the question of what could happen if we combined the active minds of you in a convivial atmosphere with a few stimulants: tea, cake, a team of table hosts (we call them provocateurs) from diverse backgrounds … along with a few surprises. It is a laboratory of its own, so find your table setting and join us for this experiment, a chance to converse, react, muse, or just observe, listen and enjoy Edith’s own chocolate cake recipe.

Thursday, February 24, 7pm & 9:30pm
Fayerweather Beckham Hall
$4 Wesleyan students,
$5 all others

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts