Music/Movement Residency Comes to a Close with “Living in Song” Showing (April 17)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Claire Marshall ’17, Trouve Ivo ’15, Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14, and CFA Programming Intern Francesca Miller ’14 about the “Living in Song” residency workshops. Participants from the workshops will perform song, movement, and sign language in a free celebratory concert on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 7pm in Crowell Concert Hall.  

Three members of the Grammy Award-winning African American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock® [currently celebrating their 40th anniversary season] have been in residence at Wesleyan over the past month.  They’ve been teaching three different workshops for 65 Wesleyan students and Connecticut residents. The workshops have been held at the Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church, the Green Street Arts Center, and in the Fayerweather Dance Studio on campus.

Dr. Shirley Mary Childress
Dr. Shirley Mary Childress

In “The Vocal Movement Experience” workshops, Dr. Nitanju Bolade Casel shows participants how movement and breath can serve as a catalyst for sound.  Dr. M. Louise Robinson leads “The Rhythm Ring,” workshops designed to spark musical conversation in the oral tradition of call and response.  Those in Dr. Shirley Mary Childress’ “Songs in the Way of Hand” workshops learn to understand and communicate songs visually using the vocabulary of American Sign Language.

Although each of the “Living in Song” workshops has a unique focus, they all center on ideas of community. Part of the mission of Sweet Honey in the Rock® is to engage with and empower its diverse audience. Dr. Casel, Dr. Robinson, and Dr. Childress have achieved just that with their “Living in Song” workshops.

“Looking around the room and recognizing our different backgrounds has been really empowering to me,” says Claire Marshall ’17.  “It’s been a chance to drop into a world where people don’t all come from the same place.”

The workshops provide a unique opportunity for Wesleyan students to learn alongside Middletown residents.  There are participants commuting from other parts of Connecticut as well, including a few women who sing in a choir in Hartford.

“It’s a lot more about the community than about us Wesleyan students,” says Trouve Ivo ’15.

“The group is incredibly diverse and it has been wonderful to play in this way,” comments Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14.

A couple adults are participating alongside their home-schooled children, further broadening the age range of the workshops.  “The children are super enthusiastic,” says CFA Programming Intern Francesca Miller ’14.

Playful and enthusiastic seem to describe the general mood of the workshops.  “Everyone is always super excited to be there,” describes Mr. Ivo.

The energy cultivated in the workshops is radiant, and participants are bringing what they’ve learned into the community.  Two Wesleyan students are taking the “Songs in the Way of Hand” workshops as a way to become familiar with deaf culture in anticipation of living in Sign House next year.

The “Living in Song” workshops speak to the power of song to foster community, all the while honoring the voice of the individual.

“I’ve grown to be more comfortable with using my own voice and using song to bring a group together,” reflects Mr. Ivo.  “Vocal expression should be more present in creative communities because it’s a really incredible, uniting thing.”

Living in Song Showing
Thursday April 17, 2014 at 7pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

Made possible by Wesleyan’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.

2 thoughts on “Music/Movement Residency Comes to a Close with “Living in Song” Showing (April 17)”

  1. Empowerment, spiritual release,engagement, collaborative bonding and motivation of the inner creativity of a variety of individuals who never met yet bonded and became a collective family of artists.
    The patience, expert instruction brought the best out of us all amatuers and professional embrace and celebrated together brought tear jerking energy. Even if there was no performance we all felt like we were stars.
    Appreciation and love to Natanju who expertly made people who thought movement was not part of their DNA and singing for those who felt they were thought they were tone deaf to embrace their unrequested dream and deliver it to an audience even the grammys couldn’t beat and have fun.
    As an observer to Dr. Shirely Childress and Ms Walker the volume intensity and creativity brought out like a professional symphony or the Mormon tabacle choir or Lady Black Ladysmith choir who have been practicing for years. Yes it was fun, exciting and I learn alot about different ways for teaching for success that we can share and continously enjoy. This experience has made us whole. I’ll always treasure this experience as I hope my parterners feel the same. Thank you Thank you.

  2. Words cannot describe the feelings that I felt during my time with Dr. Louise and our Rhythm Ring class and performance. It was connected, vital and like a revival of my soul to be singing, pushing myself to be better and to fully put my soul into the process and to trust it. The younger people in the class really respected us ‘older’ folks, and had no problem reaching out for our expertise as well. I have been to many ‘team-building through music’ workshops, but this was amongst the best. My only negative comment was that I wished that it was totally secular and that religious music was kept out or that the words were tweaked and changed to reflect those of us that are not Christian. Otherwise, loved it!!!!!!!!!!

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