Chloe E. Jones ’15 on “Who’s Hungry” (Sept. 27 & 28)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe E. Jones ’15 discusses Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin’s “Who’s Hungry,” which will receive its Connecticut premiere at Wesleyan on Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 8pm in World Music Hall.

Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin's "Who's Hungry." Photo by Rose Eichenbaum. Pictured (left to right): Rachael Lincoln, Darius Mannino, Zach Tolchinsky.
Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin’s “Who’s Hungry.” Photo by Rose Eichenbaum. Pictured (left to right): Rachael Lincoln, Darius Mannino, Zach Tolchinsky.

This weekend in World Music Hall four puppeteers will gather around a 24-foot-long dinner table, transformed into a runway-style puppet stage, for the Connecticut premiere of Who’s Hungry, a work of experimental theater.

From Los Angeles performance artist Dan Froot and New York puppet artist Dan Hurlin comes a story about the struggle of hunger across America and the strength of community. A deeply collaborative endeavor, Who’s Hungry weaves together the oral histories of five residents of Santa Monica, California who have faced either hunger, homelessness or both. To bring their stories to the east coast, Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts and Theater Department have partnered with two remarkable organizations: the New England Foundation for the Arts and St. Vincent de Paul Middletown.

A grant from the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts has made it possible for Who’s Hungry to tour the region.  Each of the partner organizations hosting the performance interviewed members of their community who have either experienced hunger first-hand or seen it up close.  The interviews were compiled into the sound score Who’s Hungry New England, which will be incorporated into each performance.  At Wesleyan, this sound score, a powerful montage of voices meant to raise awareness about the impact of hunger in New England, will play as the audience gathers before the performances begin.

Wesleyan is also partnering with St. Vincent de Paul Middletown, an organization that provides food to individuals and families through their community Soup Kitchen and the Amazing Grace Food Pantry. The Soup Kitchen serves nearly 250 prepared meals each day to Middletown residents. The Food Pantry provides food to more than 1,000 households every month.

Representatives from St. Vincent de Paul Middletown, including community members who frequent the Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry, will be on hand at both performances of Who’s Hungry.  They will have a table in the lobby where people can learn more about their work and pick up a copy of Soup Stories, a booklet they’ve created from local stories. Following each performance there will be a live Skype discussion with some of the residents of Santa Monica whose stories are featured in Who’s Hungry. Representatives from St. Vincent de Paul Middletown will be there as the voice of the local community. As St. Vincent de Paul’s Executive Director Ron Krom said, “Hunger is not just a Cali problem; it’s a local problem, too.”

Additionally, St. Vincent de Paul Middletown loaned a series of portraits to the CFA depicting guests of the Soup Kitchen to be displayed before each performance.  The simple yet stunning pencil sketches are the work of illustrator/artist and Wesleyan alumna Abby Carter ’83.  As a long-time Soup Kitchen volunteer, Ms. Carter chronicled her experience using a camera and a sketchpad. Over 50 of her portraits are now on display at the Soup Kitchen, a gallery of local faces and a beautiful representation of the community. Mr. Krom says the gallery continues to grow as new people arrive and want their portrait proudly displayed on the wall of the Soup Kitchen.

Born of two strong and generative partnerships, the Connecticut premiere of Who’s Hungry is an opportunity to engage with an important issue on a local, regional, and national scale.  A product of great collaboration, Who’s Hungry is a catalyst for continuing to work together in confronting hunger within our own communities and across the country. Grab a seat at the table this weekend.

Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin: “Who’s Hungry”
Connecticut Premiere
Friday, September 27 & Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 8pm
World Music Hall
$23 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

A Outside the Box Theater Series event presented by the Theater Department and the Center for the Arts.
Please note that this performance contains mature themes and language that may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Naya Samuel ’14 on Doug Varone and Dancers (Sept. 12 & 13)

Wesleyan Dancelink Fellow Naya Samuel ’14 discusses her experience with Doug Varone and Dancers, who will present “Stripped/Dressed,” featuring “Rise” and the Connecticut premiere of “Carrugi,” on Thursday, September 12 and Friday, September 13, 2013 at 8pm in the CFA Theater.

Through the Center for the Arts Dancelink Fellowship program, I got the opportunity to intern with Doug Varone and Dancers in New York this past summer, and I’ve become a huge fan of their work. The company was founded in 1986, and is the resident company at the 92 Street Y Harkness Dance Center, which has been home to some of the biggest names in modern dance, from Martha Graham to Merce Cunningham to Alvin Ailey. Since its founding, Doug Varone and Dancers has toured extensively across the United State and in Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America. They’ve won 11 New York Dance and Performance Awards, also known as Bessies, and just celebrated their 25th anniversary. The New Yorker noted that “few choreographers can move people around the stage like Varone can. He is able to see overlapping and intertwining groups clearly, and to create movement for them that turns them into breathing organisms.” After spending a summer with the company I agree that Doug’s work is an astonishing blend of touching humanity and complex detail.

One of my favorite nuances of this company is their Stripped/Dressed performance format. This unique method is a beneficial and inventive way to make a specific art vocabulary less foreign to someone who is not immersed in that field. The first half of the program, Stripped, offers a bare version of a performance that focuses on the choreography and the creation of a piece as explained by Doug. This section is performed with the dancers in rehearsal clothes and with minimal lighting. At Wesleyan, the company will start by performing Rise, which premiered in October 1993 and represented a huge choreographic shift for Doug. It’s a high-energy, demanding piece requiring great physicality from its dancers, and it always leaves me excited about the work.  The costumes in the piece have become well known, so it’ll be an interesting reflection on the theatrics of putting a piece on stage to see it without them, and how this change affects the way it is perceived.

Doug Varone and Dancers. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.
Doug Varone and Dancers. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The second half of the program, Dressed, has the company performing Carrugi fully produced, with costumes, lighting and sound. Doug will have walked us through its conception and creation before intermission. It’s pretty exciting for me to watch or rewatch a piece once Doug has walked us through it. He gives us a context that we otherwise lack while watching most dance companies perform. Carrugi premiered in March 2012, and was inspired by the winding pathways in between small towns on the hillside of Italy’s Liguria region. Set to music by Mozart, the piece is intricate and attentive to detail, and ultimately satisfying both in its dynamic musicality and the relationships between dancers.

The focus of my Dancelink Fellowship was marketing and promotion, especially via social media, but during my time with the company I became familiar with almost all of the necessary components of running a non-profit. The internship was completely immersive. The company had been preparing for their summer intensive in Brockport, New York, and when I started interning the workshop was about two weeks away. Along with another intern, Ellyn, and my supervisor  and company member Eddie Taketa, I headed up to Brockport, six hours away, to stay for about a month with 70 dancers and the company.

In addition to running the company’s social media campaign, I also got to participate in classes, which was thrilling. It’s a small company, eight dancers, which made for an intimate class setting. It felt like we really got to know all of the dancers as crucial components of the company as well as as individual artists. Everyone was so open and eager to share their knowledge of the field, which was helpful to the handful of us there who were getting ready to graduate and trying to figure out what we wanted to do in the dance field. It was an incredible experience to switch back and forth between watching rehearsals and performances, which gave me a much deeper insight into what I was watching, as well as the different ways in which choreographers work.

I was able to learn about Doug’s method, and his use of choreographic games and dancer participation. The company members were so passionate about everything they were doing that it was impossible to not feel energized. I can’t think of a better finale to my Dancelink Fellowship than to be in the CFA Theater to welcome Doug Varone and Dancers to Wesleyan.

Click here to watch an interview with Doug Varone and company members Xan Burley and Alex Springer, conducted by Wesleyan DanceLink Fellow Naya Samuel ’14.

Doug Varone and Dancers: “Stripped/Dressed” featuring “Rise” and “Carrugi”
Thursday, September 12 & Friday, September 13, 2013 at 8pm
CFA Theater
$25 general public; $21 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
Pre-performance talk by Wesleyan DanceLink Fellow Naya Samuel ’14 on Thursday, September 12 at 7:30pm in the CFA Hall.
Free master class with Doug Varone and Dancers Company Member Eddie Taketa on Friday, September 13 at 2:45pm in Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio, 247 Pine Street, Middletown. Please call 860-685-3355 to register in advance.
Only one spot left for Dine/Dance/Discover on Friday, September 13 at 5:30pm—add $15 to your regular ticket price above. Please call 860-685-3355 to purchase.

Crafting “The Alumni Show II” Exhibition (Through Dec. 8)

Director of the Center for the Arts Pamela Tatge ’84, P ’16 discusses “The Alumni Show II” and guest curator John Ravenal ’81, P ’15. The exhibition is on view in Wesleyan University’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery through Sunday, December 8, 2013.

alumni show flux imageAt Homecoming/Family Weekend last year, I spoke with John Ravenal ’81, P ’15 about curating The Alumni Show II as part of the celebration of the CFA’s 40th anniversary. John is the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Despite the swift timetable, he agreed and began the daunting task of crafting from the rich and wide-ranging body of art by Wesleyan alumni a selective and cohesive exhibition of seventeen artists. I’m excited for the extended Wesleyan family and the community-at-large to engage with the work and eager to hear the conversations that follow. As John writes in the exhibition catalogue, reflecting on his own experience, an experience shared by many who have passed through Wesleyan in some capacity:

“The building of the CFA and the value it conferred on the study and practice of the arts, while not uncommon for a liberal arts college, underscored Wesleyan’s commitment to education conducted in a spirit of free inquiry, without consideration for vocational utility, but rather dedicated to increasing the understanding of the human and natural worlds we inhabit. This lofty ideal, ever under attack as impractical, unaffordable, and even elitist, is precisely what has opened the door for generations of young adults to expand their minds far beyond what they even knew to anticipate, and to consider the arts as a valid path for a lifetime of intellectual as well as creative pursuit. The broad spectrum of themes and subjects explored by the artists in this exhibition underscores the wisdom of this attitude. It doesn’t seem a stretch to see in their complex, sophisticated, critical, and beautiful work a confirmation of Wesleyan’s core values.”

Join us in celebrating and expanding this vibrant tradition. The official opening reception for The Alumni Show II is Tuesday, September 10 from 5pm to 7pm, followed by a performance/installation [“Centrifugal March”] by Aki Sasamoto ’04 at 7:30pm in Art Studio North. We look forward to seeing you!

“The Alumni Show II”
Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery
Friday, September 6 through Sunday, December 8, 2013
Tuesday-Sunday, Noon-5pm
Opening Reception: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 from 5pm to 7pm. Performance by Aki Sasamoto ’04 at 7:30pm in Art Studio North.
Homecoming/Family Weekend Reception: Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 2pm to 4pm. Talk at 2:30pm by Guest Curator John Ravenal ’81, P ’15, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Special Gallery Hours: Noon to 6pm.
Closed Wednesday, November 20 through Monday, November 25, 2013.

Celebrating 40 Years in 2013-2014; Tickets On Sale July 1

Doug Varone and Dancers will be performing on Thursday, September 12 & Friday, September 13, 2013.
Doug Varone and Dancers will be performing on Thursday, September 12 & Friday, September 13, 2013.

Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts announces the highlights of their 40th anniversary season in 2013-2014, including two world premieres, four New England premieres, and six Connecticut premieres:

September 6 – December 8, 2013: The Alumni Show II exhibition in Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, featuring painting, sculpture, drawing, installation art, video art, performance, and films
September 12 & 13, 2013: Stripped/Dressed featuring Rise and the Connecticut premiere of Carrugi by Doug Varone and Dancers
September 13, 2013; November 16, 2013; and February 15, 2014: Dine/Dance/Discover, a new event designed to bring audiences closer to the work on stage before and after all three 2013–2014 Breaking Ground Dance Series performances
September 27 & 28, 2013: the Connecticut premiere of Who’s Hungry by Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin
September 29, 2013: the first of twelve recitals featuring the complete piano works of Wesleyan John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Neely Bruce, including two world premieres
October 9–13, 2013: the 37th annual Navaratri Festival, including the Connecticut debut of dancer Aparna Ramaswamy
October 15, 2013: the New England debut of Netherlands-based pianist Reinier van Houdt
October 25, 2013: Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré, the “Hendrix of the Sahara”
November 9, 2013: the Connecticut debut of London-based a cappella trio Juice Vocal Ensemble
November 11, 2013: Blood, Muscle, Bone, a performative “teach-in” by choreographers Liz Lerman and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
November 13–16, 2013: Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull directed by Wesleyan Associate Professor of Theater Yuri Kordonsky
November 15 & 16, 2013: the Connecticut premiere of the dance work Pavement by Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion
January 30 & 31, 2014: the New England premiere of the theater work HOME/SICK by The Assembly
February 1, 2014: the Connecticut debut of the Ignacio Berroa Trio
February 14, 2014: the first concert in New England by Ukrainian pianist Vadym Kholodenko after winning the Gold Medal in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
February 14 & 15, 2014: the New England premiere of Times Bones by San Francisco’s Margaret Jenkins Dance Company
March 8 & 9, 2014: the 15th annual DanceMasters Weekend, featuring a Showcase Performance by three dance companies, and twelve Master Classes over two days
March 27—29, 2014: the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States conference, to be held in New England for the first time since 1998

Tickets for the 2013-2014 season at the Center for the Arts go on sale on Monday, July 1, 2013. Tickets will be available online at; and starting at Noon by phone at (860) 685-3355, or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown.

Programs, artists, and dates are subject to change without notice.

Watch Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (May 24-June 9)

Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

Be the first to discover who will be performing at Wesleyan! During the 2013-2014 season, Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts will be celebrating their 40th anniversary (the CFA opened in September 1973). On February 14, 2014, the 39th annual Crowell Concert Series presented by Center for the Arts and the Music Department will feature a concert by the Gold Medalist of this year’s Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which begins this upcoming weekend. You can watch the entire Van Cliburn competition online for free, and be the first to discover who will be performing an evening of classical and Romantic music at Wesleyan on Valentine’s Day 2014!

The sensational victory by pianist Van Cliburn (1934-2013) at the first Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow in 1958 heralded a new confidence in the quality of American music-making, as well as a new era in cultural relations between East and West.

The 14th edition of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which has been dedicated to the discovery of the world’s finest pianists every four years since 1962, starts this Friday, May 24, and concludes on Sunday, June 9, 2013, at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas.

All performances will be streamed live in their entirety starting at 11am this Friday, and will also be available on demand at Watch 30 pianists from Australia, Chile, China, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States compete for the coveted Cliburn medals, more than $175,000 in prizes and awards, and three years of commission-free career management.

Enjoy over 110 hours of live broadcasts of performances, interview segments, and awards ceremonies over 17 days, along with symposia, competitor profiles, special tributes to Van Cliburn, and other behind-the-scenes glimpses and featurettes on the competition.

All competitors will perform two 45-minute solo recitals in the Preliminary Round (May 24-30). Then, twelve semifinalists will be selected to perform an hour long solo recital (June 1-4), including a specially commissioned work by American composer Christopher Theofanidis, and a piano quintet with the world-renowned Brentano String Quartet. Six finalists will perform two piano concerti with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Leonard Slatkin (June 6-9).

Make comments and submit questions to the Cliburn team and webcast host, pianist Jade Simmons; and vote for your favorite competitors (the winner of this vote will receive an Audience Award to be given during the Final Awards ceremony on June 9.)

Watch a teaser of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition on YouTube here: 2013 Cliburn Competition Teaser

And stay tuned for an announcement on June 25 about the rest of the programming for the 40th anniversary season of the Center for the Arts!

Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
Gold Medalist Concert
Friday, February 14, 2014 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
Tickets on sale Monday, July 1, 2013

“Besides its illustrious list of laureates, the importance of its prizes, quality of its judges and rigorous selection process sets [the Cliburn Competition] apart.”