Congratulations to Robert Battle

In case you haven’t heard, I’m writing to let you know some extraordinary news about a longtime friend of DanceMasters, Robert Battle. Ten days ago, Robert was named the new Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater!  See the coverage in the New York Times.

Robert has been in the running for the position for two years, and we are all so excited that he has been entrusted with the leadership of this extraordinary American cultural institution. Robert performed his signature work, “Takedeme,” at the very first DanceMasters Weekend in 2000, when he was a member of the Parsons Dance Company. In 2003, he was awarded the first-ever Wesleyan Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award, and he performed with his then fledgling dance company, Battleworks. Since then, he has never missed a single DanceMasters Weekend, and his classes are often the first to fill up.

I know you will all join me in congratulating Robert, and believe it or not, you’ll have the chance to congratulate him in person this summer. The final performances of Battleworks Dance Company will occur at Wesleyan on July 15 and 16. Sadly, the company will need to be dissolved as Robert takes the helm of the Ailey company. He’ll be performing some of his signature works, including Takedeme, Ella and Juba.

Here’s hoping we’ll see you this summer for these and other great performances and talks, presented in collaboration with the CREC Center for Creative Youth.

CFA Theater
July 15, 16 at 8pm

CFA Student Profile: Emily Troll ’10

What follows is the fourth in a series of profiles of Wesleyan students by Alexandra Provo ‘10, the CFA’s Arts Administration Intern.

A few weeks ago I sat down with Emily Troll ’10, a music major and accomplished fiddler originally from Boston, to talk about her time at Wesleyan and her plans for the future. Emily is perhaps best known on campus as a founder of Wesleyan’s series of student-run contra dances, along with Anna Roberts-Gevalt ’09, Josh Van Vliet ’09, and Hannah Bary ’09. Contra dance is a traditional American folk dance form featuring a live band intended for dancers of all levels. A caller teaches participants the steps, and every thirty seconds or so the dancers switch partners.

Before coming to Wesleyan, Emily was an experienced contra dancer and fiddler. After being introduced to the form at the age of twelve, she started playing at smaller, low-key dances. Now she travels to gigs throughout New England, though admittedly there is a little less time for that during the school year.

Part of the reason for this is that she is busy making and teaching music within the Wesleyan and greater Middletown communities. The collaborative aspect of contra dance is an apt metaphor for Emily’s interests in connecting people across and within communities. For her senior thesis, Calliope House, she brought together a panel of fiddlers from across New England to discuss theories and methods of practicing, interspersing questions with mini jam sessions.

Her interest in practicing and bringing people together also comes through in her work in the Middletown community. Early in her Wesleyan career, Emily volunteered at Green Street Arts Center, and this year, she helped organize Snap Crackle Pop!, a percussive dance show that brings together students from Green Street and Wesleyan dance groups. She has also been working in the after school program at McDonough School in the North End, something she hopes to continue next year since she will be staying on in Middletown. Lately, she has also been teaching music to several six-year-olds living in her off-campus neighborhood, a somewhat unique situation but one that has enriched her own music and expanded her Wesleyan experience. “I’m happy to be out there serving as an ambassador for the Wesleyan community,” she says. “I’ve been able to really be there for people, to get involved.”

Tonight, you can catch Emily and other senior music majors, Lindsay Wright’ 10 and Gabriel Furtado ’10, at the Senior Highlights Concert in the Daniel Family Commons. This Friday, Emily and the Wesleyan Megaband will host the last contra dance of the semester at Beckham Hall.

Senior Highlights Concert
Usdan Connections Series
Tuesday, May 4, 7pm
Daniel Family Commons

Contra Dance
Friday, May 7, 8-11 pm
Beckham Hall