The Second annual Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter festival featuring live music, visual art installations, children’s activities, environmental education exhibits, food trucks, and a craft fair was held on Saturday, May 7, 2016 in Middletown’s Harbor Park.
Click here to view the full album on Flickr. Photos by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography and Tom Dzimian.
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.
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.
This event celebrated the river as a source of cultural inspiration and creativity on May 9, 2015 at Harbor Park in Middletown. “Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter” featured live music, visual art installations, plein air painters, a kids’ activity zone, environmental education exhibits, as well as a craft fair and farmer’s market–all designed to bring patrons closer to the rich culture, history, and science of the Connecticut River.
Click here to view the full album on flickr. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography.
The Connecticut premiere of The Nile Project featured a dozen musicians performing collaboratively composed songs drawn from the diverse styles and instruments of the countries along the Nile Basin—including Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, and Uganda—intertwining these traditions into a unified sound that is “joyous and even raucous” (NPR Music) on April 10, 2015 in Crowell Concert Hall. Click here to view the full album on flickr. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography.
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.
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.
Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge discusses the development of the work “SPILL” by Leigh Fondakowski. Ms. Fondakowski will give a free talk about the future of “SPILL” on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7pm in CFA Hall.
As the third Outside the Box Theater Series event of the year, playwright Leigh Fondakowski will give a talk on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7pm in CFA Hall.
As part of the course, Ms. Fondakowski and Mr. Chernoff accompanied the students on a ten-day trip to the Gulf Coast region visiting laboratories and research institutions, touring wetlands, and meeting the people who live in the affected communities. Upon their return, the students created performances that combined science and art to tell the story of the effects of the spill.
This course inspired Ms. Fondakowski to write a new theatrical piece, commissioned by the Center for the Arts and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Wesleyan’s Creative Campus Initiative, which she entitled SPILL.
Ms. Fondakowski went back to Louisiana and collected over 200 hours of stories in the following months from people who lived in the parishes hardest hit by the disaster. In collaboration with visual artist Reeva Wortel (American Portrait Project), Ms. Fondakowski created SPILL, which had its first staged reading at Wesleyan in February 2012.
Since then, Ms. Fondakowski has continued to work on the piece, including a presentation at the Culture Project‘s Women Center Stage Festival in New York in July 2013, followed by the premiere in March 2014 at the Reilly Theatre at Louisiana State University, performed by Baton Rouge’s Swine Palace.
In her talk this Thursday, Ms. Fondakowski will share the journey that her play has taken since she first showed it at Wesleyan, and will discuss its path for the future.
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.
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.
Favorite Professor: Joseph Siry, Javier Castro, Mari Dummett (can’t choose between them—sorry!)
Center for the Arts Story: What stands out for me about the CFA is not an individual story, its an individual, or rather a force that has manifested itself in the form of an individual—Pamela Tatge.
There are very few people that are equally brilliant educators, dreamers and administrators. I learned very quickly that Pam is one of them. During my year as her Arts Administration Intern and as the first intern for a program she helped realize, the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP), I felt profoundly connected to and proud of Wesleyan in a way that I had not in my previous years there.
What is exceptional about Pam is her limitlessness in energy, in innovation and in creating. She is an artist presenting artists.
She deals with restrictions like budget and locality in a way that attacks and utilizes supposed weaknesses that seemed impossible to deal with. Her dedication to all of the arts and cross disciplinary projects is truly unique and her ability to see what is needed in a smaller school as well as a more general demographic is only as incredible as her ability to create platforms for them. If you begin to take note of the annual festivals and events affiliated with the CFA, you will quickly see that most, if not all, are originated within her fifteen or so years working at the CFA.
She is a role model for anyone who wants to work in the arts in a way that betters peoples’ lives. For me, she was a role model and mentor. She personally taught me the ways in which to go think about the arts and how to continually improve myself professionally. What makes her educating so effective is her skill in conjunction with her unwavering warmth, patience and excitement.
I say all of this because to celebrate the CFA is in part to celebrate Pam and what she has given to and expected of the CFA.
I will be forever be grateful that Pam chose me to be a part of ICPP and her team at the CFA. Pam, you are an inspiration. Thank you for all the opportunities and lessons you have given me and thank you for making the CFA such a rewarding place for Wesleyan affiliates and everyone else who is lucky enough to discover it. Congratulations to everyone at the CFA on forty years!