Over the course of the next year, a campus-wide steering committee has put together a far-reaching series of global performances, talks and participatory projects, all with the intention of bringing us into an examination of the role of Music & Public Life. We will celebrate and study the sounds, words and spirit of music in public at the local, national and transnational levels, all designed to cross disciplines and to engage the campus and community-at-large. From performances by Middletown’s own Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem to the legendary Hugh Masekela; showcasing student research in the role of music in the current political campaigns; to the creation of MiddletownRemix–there are points of entry for everyone.
In September, we feature dance and theater companies who are exploring the role of the audience as actively engaged in the live creative process of the theatrical event. In ZviDance’s Zoom, patrons use their smartphones to integrate their own photos and text into the work; in Anonymous Ensemble’s Liebe Love Amour!, the audience is engaged in constructing the “performance script.”
This is just a note to thank you for attending our events and exhibitions this past year. I hope you have enjoyed and been challenged by the work of our faculty, students and visiting artists! After Reunion/Commencement this weekend, we will be switching gears to prepare for another beautiful summer in Middletown and the CFA’s summer series. I’ll be posting various CFA news items as I hear about what our students and faculty are up to, as well as our alumni and visiting artists. Feel free to email me with any news you think I should know about at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First, I want to let those of you who saw Leigh Fondakowski’s work-in-progress SPILL at Beckham Hall in February know that she and her artistic collaborator for the project, Reeva Wortel, have been awarded two 3-week residencies in New Orleans this fall. Fondakowski and Wortel will live and work at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and at Louisiana State University to further develop the play. Fondakowski’s hope is to premier the completed work in New Orleans on the third anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2013. We’re so excited to see this important work travel home, completing the circle begun last summer as seven Wesleyan students journeyed with Fondakowski and Wesleyan’s own Barry Chernoff, Director of the College of the Environment, to conduct the interviews and research that became the seeds of this project.
And in local news, in last Sunday’s New Haven Register, I read about a terrific program facilitated by Brad Roth MALS ’97, who runs an organization called Dancing Day, Inc. based in Milford and has taught dance across Connecticut. Now in its third year, the Shared Ability Program, under the auspices of Young Audiences of CT and in partnership with the New Haven Ballet, continues to provide a supportive environment for ballet students and children with disabilities to meet, interact, and share their different experiences and interests. Students learn to accept touch, to communicate through movement, and to express themselves creatively and interactively – skills they’ll develop and draw upon throughout their lives.
For Roth, the “challenge is to create interesting choreography where the attention is not to the disability, but to the choreography. The magic is when restricted movement looks like designed movement or art, rather than the perception of limitation. They’re beautiful little moments that happen regularly – magic little moments where movement turns into dance.”
You can see Brad (and others) talk about the program in this video.
We congratulate Brad and his students on their work so far, and wish them the best of luck in the future.
Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge reflects on the many events that have taken place this week.
Monday, April 2, 2012:
I had some wonderful conversations, emails and phone calls from students and community members who attended Chunky Move over the weekend. I will say that I thought it was one of the most successful integrations of visual art and dance that I’ve ever witnessed, and I was particularly pleased that Gideon Obarzanek said he’s never seen Connected look better than it did in the CFA Theater. For those of you who were there, thank you for supporting this important performance.
I had lunch with Gillian Goslinga in Anthropology and Jill Sigman, Center for Creative Research Visiting Artist to hear about “Ritual, Health, and Healing”, the course they are co-teaching in Dance and Anthropology as a part of the Creative Campus Initiative. It’s also a Service Learning Course and so they are taking their students to St. Nicks Alliance in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn on three Saturdays to conduct research with residents. It will culminate on Sunday, April 22, 2012 as a series of student performance works are presented alongside Sigman’s Thinkdance installation at St. Nicks. See a reflection by one of the students in the class, Hannah Cressy ’13, here.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012:
I attended the opening of the beautiful exhibition, Provincial Elegance: Chinese Antiques Donated in Honor of Houghton “Buck” Freeman, a collection of objects donated by Anna Lee ’84, that’s at the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Gallery through Sunday, May 27, 2012. I was so moved by Patrick Dowdey’s story of how Anna made the contribution to Wesleyan in honor of the great spirit that was Buck Freeman, whose family made, and continues to make, so many great things possible at Wesleyan. Jean Shaw, former director of the Center for the Arts, told me that not only did Anna graduate the same year I did, but that Anna worked at the CFA when she was a student!
I also attended the second week of the Senior Thesis Exhibitions in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. If you’ve never taken the time to attend one of the Wednesday receptions from 4pm to 6pm, then you are missing one of the great “scenes” at Wesleyan. Hundreds of students flock to Zilkha to see their fellow students’ capstone project. All of us have the great opportunity to feel the pulse of contemporary art on our campus in all of its many manifestations, from JoAnna Bourain’s video animation installation [sometimes its hard 2 b a woman (i c u looking at me!!)] to Alex Chaves’ vibrant paintings [casual desire] in South Gallery. Exhibitions continue for the next two weeks, with receptions on Wednesday, April 11 and Wednesday, April 18, 2012.
And I want to wish our senior thesis students in dance the best of luck on their thesis presentations in the Patricelli ’92 Theater, tonight through Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 8pm. Click here for more information about the concerts.
Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge discusses Australian dance company Chunky Move, who present the Connecticut premiere of their hour-long work “Connected” on March 30 and 31.
The Center for the Arts has never hosted a dance company from Australia before, and it’s high time that we do, considering the strength of contemporary dance that is touring the world from down under. And I can guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it.
Beginning with simple movements and hundreds of tiny pieces, the dancers build their performance while they construct a kinetic sculpture in real time. During the performance, these basic elements and simple physical connections quickly evolve into complex structures and relationships. The work, Connected, is the brainchild of Chunky Move’s Artistic Director Gideon Obarzanek and California artist Reuben Margolin. The two met at PopTech, the renowned conference that brings great minds together to focus on social change through current innovations in science, art and economics. The result is thrilling: athletic and agile dancers’ bodies twisting and hurtling through space, alongside movements from everyday life. As Aldous Huxley wrote: “All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to pull ours.”
Suzanne Sadler, the CFA’s Assistant Technical Director, said they’ve created two line sets that work in tandem, each with a truss, and the sculpture is attached with a circular pipe. 220 strings are suspended from there: “I can’t wait to see it in the space. It’s going to look really beautiful.”
Chunky Move, along with Australian Dance Theater and Lucy Guerin’s company, have garnered great acclaim as they have toured the world. The Dance Department and CFA were interested in bringing Connected because of its interdisciplinary nature. When I was speaking with Kristy Edmunds, a faculty member in Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance, and the Director of UCLA Live (formerly the director of the Melbourne Festival), she said: “What is particularly intriguing about Gideon is his fascination and willingness to explore and collaborate with design and technologies. Increasingly, he is able to forge unique collaborations with artists from other fields, and orchestrate that discourse into a work of art where dance is the central vehicle.”
So we invite you to experience Chunky Move at the CFA this weekend – and if you come at 7:15pm on Friday in the CFA Hall, you’ll have a chance to hear dance scholar Debra Cash contextualize their work, and give you some things to look out for. Join us!
Chunky Move: Connected Connecticut Premiere Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 8pm
Pre-performance talk by dance scholar Debra Cash on Friday at 7:15pm in CFA Hall
Tickets: $21 general public; $18 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students, $6 Wesleyan students
Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge talks to Josh Cohen ’14 and Matthew Krakauer ’14 about what they learned from writer Leigh Fondakowski and scientist Barry Chernoff. “SPILL”, Ms. Fondakowski‘s collaboration with visual artist Reeva Wortel, will be performed in Beckham Hall this weekend (Feb. 25 & 26).
I went to Beckham Hall on Tuesday as Leigh Fondakowski and Reeva Wortel were loading in elements for SPILL, a new work that Wesleyan and others have commissioned about the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. We’ve seen images of Reeva’s portraits, but finally we were able to see the eight foot tall canvasses unpacked. They are life-sized representations of the people whom Fondakowski and Wortel interviewed, people whose lives were changed forever.
This weekend, the stories of oyster fishermen, Tea Party Republicans, families of oil riggers and others will be told in a choral reading format by Fondakowski’s New York-based cast. Wesleyan students also had the chance to meet and interview some of these people when they took a course that Fondakowski and Barry Chernoff, Director of the College of the Environment, co-taught last summer in and around New Orleans.
They learned about the aftermath of the spill through the lens of a scientist and an artist. They toured the beaches and the bayou, understanding the science of what occurred and meeting with scientists about the condition of coastal wildlife. They also learned Fondakowski’s interviewing techniques and how she uses a technique entitled Moment Work to create a piece of theater. When I saw Josh Cohen ’14, a student in the course at Young Jean Lee’s talk this week, he said: “I have to go back to Louisiana. [Fondakowski and Chernoff] introduced me to a world I’d never experienced before. I learned about making theater from the ground up. As a result, it completely changed the way I look at everything. I can’t wait to see Leigh’s play.” He was with Matthew Krakauer ’14, another student in the course: “I learned a completely new way to think about theater. I had one mindset about how theater is made, but this class changed everything. In fact, Moment Work informed how I experienced my entire time there. I can’t wait to go back.”
Tickets for SPILL are extremely limited: only 50 per performance, so if you are interested in attending, do buy your tickets early.
“SPILL” Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 7pm & 10pm
Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 2pm & 7pm
Fayerweather Beckham Hall , Wyllys Avenue
$12 general public; $10 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $5 Wesleyan students
We hope that you will take advantage of all that the Center for the Arts has to offer in the coming months:
In keeping with our tradition of welcoming the world to Wesleyan at the CFA, you will have the opportunity to discover one of Australia’s most adventurous contemporary dance companies (Chunky Move); a sizzling jazz guitarist/vocalist from Benin (Lionel Loueke); and an Argentine quartet that celebrates the tango music of Buenos Aires (Fernando Otero).
And in keeping with our interest in the intersection of art and science, the CFA has commissioned two works that will have their first performances at Wesleyan in conjunction with Feet to the Fire: Fueling the Future. SPILL, by Leigh Fondakowski and Reeva Wortel, is a visual art/performance installation that explores the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The work will debut at Beckham Hall in February. Composer Paula Matthusen, new to Wesleyan’s music faculty, will premiere work divided by time at the Van Vleck Observatory. The sound installation is a reflection of how the scientific definition of energy resonates and clashes with cultural and historical concepts.
Other highlights include the world premiere of a new multi-part suite by jazz vibraphonist and music faculty member Jay Hoggard; the U.S. premiere of Quicksand, a provocative new work by inDANCE, the highly acclaimed Toronto-based contemporary dance company directed by Wesleyan Artist in Residence Hari Krishnan; and a 21st-century examination of Gertrude Stein’s Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, directed by Theater Department Chair Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento.
We invite you to stretch your imagination, contemplate new ideas and celebrate all that the CFA’s faculty, students, and visiting artists and companies have to offer.
Director, Center for the Arts
P.S. If you are looking for arts interaction over the holidays, please attend Middnight on Main, New Year’s Eve on Main Street in Middletown.
Despite the power outages earlier in the week, and fallen trees and branches in the Center for the Arts, we are still preparing to welcome artists and scholars from around the world to Wesleyan this weekend to explore the work of Alvin Lucier. Alvin has been the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music at Wesleyan for over four decades. At eighty, he is as prolific as ever, and all of us who have been working on the events in his honor have so appreciated getting to know the depth of the impact of this magnificent man. It is fitting that the festival is scheduled in conjunction with Wesleyan’s Homecoming/Family Weekend, as several thousand of our undergraduate and graduate students have been influenced by Alvin over the years.
Perhaps no one has come to know more about Alvin than Andrea Miller-Keller who has expertly and lovingly curated an exhibition that opens this Saturday at the Center for the Arts Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. You may know Andrea from the nearly thirty years she spent at the Wadsworth Atheneum where she was the founding curator of MATRIX gallery. Alvin Lucier (and His Artist Friends) is the first exhibition to explore the breadth of his work in a gallery context. It’s a broad and colorful overview of his nearly six-decade career, featuring seventeen of his major works through audio presentations, performance videos, scores and archival memorabilia. A special section includes both a presentation of Alvin’s landmark 1969 piece, I Am Sitting in a Room and an exploration of its widespread influence on other artists over the past four decades. Andrea also examines the sources of inspiration and exchange of ideas among Alvin and his some of his artist-friends, including Sol LeWitt, John Ashbery, John Cage and others. One of my favorite films in the exhibit is George Manupelli’s Dr. Chicago trilogy that premiered from 1968 to 1971, featuring Alvin in the title role.
An installation that is sure to fascinate and delight is the tribute to Alvin’s 1968 masterpiece, Chambers, organized by Ron Kuivila, chair of Wesleyan’s Music Department and a former student of Alvin’s. Over forty Wesleyan alums recorded environmental sounds following Alvin’s instructions and submitted mp3 files along with a small resonant object into which the sounds will be played. The objects, some fanciful, some ordinary, are displayed on long tables and include a toaster, a shotgun shell, a flute, a vase, and a sauce pot, among many others. Patrons to the gallery will have the opportunity to lean in and listen to each object.
Kuivila has also staged a “flash-mob” for current Wesleyan students who have created their own Chambers works that will begin on Foss Hill at 1:45pm and process to the gallery in time for the opening.
Buy Three, Get One Free!
Call or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office at 860-685-3355 to purchase subscription packages for the Alvin Lucier Celebration, which include all four concerts: $36 general public; $30 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty & staff, non-Wesleyan students; $18 Wesleyan students.
At 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.