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 http://www.wesleyan.edu/boxoffice; 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.

This Weekend: Puppetry, Funk, Grateful Dead music, and more!

CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 surveys this week’s offerings at the Center for the Arts.

What are you doing this weekend? Are you rocking out to the music of the Grateful Dead? Watching an outdoor puppet show? Maybe you are listening to an orchestra of laptops, or expanding your idea of art. If you aren’t, you should be. This weekend holds a ton of exciting performances, exhibitions, and lectures that are as diverse in subject as they are in medium.

On Friday at 1:30pm, get your dance fix with a free studio showing by the Philadelphia-based choreographer Moncell Durden, President and Founder of Dance Educators of Funk and Hip Hop.

Time Stands Still: Notation in Musical Practice Festival-Conference, April 5 & 6

If music is more your thing, there are a number of senior and graduate recitals, like Henry Robertson’s tribute to the Grateful Dead, “Transitive Nightfall of Diamonds” (Thursday at 9pm). You could also explore musical notation with international experts at the Time Stands Still festival-conference this weekend (starting Friday at 1:30pm). Along with symposium sessions and roundtables, there will be two concerts (Friday and Saturday at 8pm), including the U.S. premiere of London’s Vocal Constructivists, alongside Wesleyan students in the Toneburst Laptop & Electronic Arts Ensemble.

A little overwhelmed? Take a break and have some quiet contemplation with artwork at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. There you can see the brilliant art studio thesis work (Noon to 5pm). The students featured are so talented, you won’t believe that not one of them has yet lived a quarter of a century. You can also see artists taking action in a collection of protest posters at the Davison Art Center (Noon to 4pm).

Last but definitely not least is the outdoor puppet show (Thursday through Saturday at 9pm), with handmade puppets and complimentary tea. You really don’t want to miss Frog’s journey to prevent Tokyo’s destruction by enlisting the help of a lowly collections officer, Katagiri!

Instead of your normal weekend routine, come to an event at the Center for the Arts. I promise it will be more fun, valuable and out of the ordinary than anything you were planning!

Two Major American Dance Companies Make Their Wesleyan Debut This Weekend (Mar. 9)

Director of the Center for the Arts Pamela Tatge discusses the three dance companies that will be performing as part of the 14th annual DanceMasters Weekend Showcase Performance on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

It’s amazing to me that this weekend we will celebrate the 14th annual DanceMasters Weekend at Wesleyan, an annual feast of dance that goes on for two days, with thirteen Master Classes by leading American dance-makers (names you’ll recognize from past seasons at the Center for the Arts: Brian Brooks, Ronald K. Brown, Camille A. Brown, to name a few). Dianne Walker is arguably the grande dame of tap, and she will be teaching a Master Class as well [see below for full list of Master Class teachers].

And on Saturday night, we will showcase the work of three companies that have shaped the landscape of contemporary dance in America: Armitage Gone! Dance, Ballet Hispanico and ODC/Dance. Because this is a showcase, companies often bring us duets or dances for a small group of dancers.  This year, however, both Armitage Gone! Dance and Ballet Hispanico are presenting full company works!  There is simply nowhere else in New England where you can see such a breadth of work in a single evening.


Armitage Gone! Dance, “Three Theories” (2010). Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Karole Armitage has been pushing the boundaries of ballet and movement research since she danced works by George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham.  Christened the “punk ballerina,” she worked in Europe as the Artistic Director of companies in France and Italy and made works for companies around the world before returning to the U.S. in 2004 to form Armitage Gone! Dance. She explains:

“Historically ballet has been thought of primarily as a narrative art, and many great story ballets survive in the repertoire today. There is another great tradition in ballet, however, descending from Balanchine and innovators in modern dance, which eschews narrative and works directly through metaphor, symbol and abstraction. In this tradition, dance is a poetic language of the body. Rather than serving as a vehicle for conventional dramas with plots and named characters, this tradition of dance seeks to express the deepest emotional, existential and even spiritual realities through pure movement.” (armitagegonedance.org)

Wesleyan audiences will see excerpts from her newest work, Mechanics of the Dance Machine (2013), that alternates between electrically fierce dance and metaphors of intimacy: the work blends powerful partnering, pointe work and non-pointe work with fractal geometry in a hybrid performance with music by Gabriel Prokofiev, a hip hop producer trained in classical music, and Craig Leon.

ODC/Dance, “Breathing Underwater” (2012). Photo by Margo Moritz.

This will be the third time that the Center for the Arts welcomes ODC/Dance to Middletown. The Oberlin Dance Collective (named for Oberlin College in Ohio, where the founders met), was founded in 1971 and proved a major American company could grow up outside of New York. “ODC was one of the first American companies to return, after a decade of pedestrian exploration, to virtuosic technique and narrative content in avant-garde dance and to commit major resources to interdisciplinary collaboration and musical commissions for the repertory.” (odcdance.org) On Saturday, we will have a sneak preview of their newest work, Triangulating Euclid (2013), which will have its official premiere at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts March 15-23, 2013.  According to their program notes, ODC’s Artistic Directors Brenda Way and KT Nelson have teamed up with New York-based choreographer Kate Weare in this “unprecedented collaboration designed to shake up their creative process and explore new artistic territory. Inspired by a rare original edition of Euclid’s Elements, perhaps the most influential work in the history of mathematics, this highly physical and emotive piece moves from the formal elegance of geometry to its human implication: from triangles to threesomes, from lines to connections, from the page to the heart.”

(Interesting note: for a number of years [2003 to 2005], KT Nelson was the Chair of Dance for the Capitol Region Education Council’s Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan—we’re so delighted to have her back to teach a Master Class and show us her newest work).

Ballet Hispanico, “A vueltas con los Ochenta” (2012). Photo by Paula Lobo.

Ballet Hispanico is recognized as this country’s premiere Latino dance organization. Their work emanates from the legacy of Tina Ramirez who founded the company over 42 years ago, who was interested in “exploring the diversity of Latino culture through a fusion of classical, Latin, and contemporary dance powered by theatricality and passion.” Since August 2009, the company has been led by Cuban-American Eduardo Vilaro, a former dancer with the company who has commissioned a host of contemporary choreographers to create new works for the company, including A vueltas con los ochenta (2012), choreographed by Meritxell Barberá and Inma García, who studied together in Valencia, Spain.  The company introduces the work in their program notes as follows: “A vueltas con los ochenta uses contemporary dance to evoke the sights and sounds of the cultural revolution, known as ‘La Movida,’ in 1980s Madrid. Drawing upon that time’s need for creative expression and individuality, the work recreates the memory of one night of freedom, exploration, and invention lived by a young group of friends.”

The exuberance and virtuosity of these dancers will be thrilling to see this weekend!

14th annual DanceMasters Weekend
Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10, 2013

Showcase Performance
Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 8pm in the CFA Theater

$28 for the general public; $23 for senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $8 for Wesleyan students.

Master Classes
The thirteen Master Classes on Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10 provide an opportunity for intermediate to advanced dance students, and also dance professionals, to explore diverse dance techniques. Asterisks (*) denote the five teachers who will be teaching their first DanceMasters Weekend Master Class at Wesleyan in 2013.

On Saturday, March 9, Master Classes will be taught by the following seven teachers:

*Karole Armitage (Artistic Director of Armitage Gone! Dance)
*Donald Borror (Company Dancer with Ballet Hispanico)
Camille A. Brown (Artistic Director of Camille A. Brown & Dancers, and recipient of the 2012 Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award)
Ronald K. Brown (Artistic Director of Evidence Dance Company)
Carolyn Kirsch (Broadway veteran, teaching “Never Stop Moving: A Fosse-Style Jazz Workshop for Older Dancers”)
*KT Nelson (Co-Artistic Director of ODC/Dance)
Dianne Walker (Artistic Director of Boston’s TapDanZin, Inc; teaching a Tap Master Class)

And on Sunday, March 10, Master Classes will be taught by the following six teachers:

Brandon “Peace” Albright (Artistic Director of Philadelphia’s Illstyle & Peace Productions, teaching a Hip Hop Master Class)
Brian Brooks (Artistic Director of Brian Brooks Moving Company)
*Christal Brown (Artistic Director of New York’s Inspirit, former Principal Performer with Urban Bush Women)
*Dana Moore (Broadway veteran, teaching a Jazz/Broadway Musical Theater Master Class)
Troy Powell (Artistic Director of Ailey II)
Kate Skarpetowska (Dancer with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company)

To see the full Master Class schedule, please click here.

$19 per Master Class for the general public (plus a $6 registration fee); $17 per Master Class for four or more classes; $13 per Master Class for Wesleyan students. A Weekend Pass includes five Master Classes and one ticket to the Showcase Performance, and costs $100 for the general public (plus a $6 registration fee); and $73 for Wesleyan students. To register for Master Classes, please call 860-685-3355 or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office.

Fearless Physicality at the CFA Theater (Feb. 9)

Director of the Center for the Arts Pamela Tatge discusses choreographer Andrea Miller, and her company Gallim Dance.

[The performance by Gallim Dance on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 8pm has been canceled due to the snow storm. Ticket holders have the following options:  receive a gift certificate to be used for a Breaking Ground Dance Series performance during the 2013-2014 season; return tickets for a tax deductible donation to the Center for the Arts; or receive a refund. Please call the Wesleyan University Box Office at 860-685-3355 for more information. Click here to read the text of the talk about Gallim Dance prepared by dance scholar Debra Cash.]

[The Master Class with Andrea Miller on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 2pm has also been canceled.]

Choreographer Andrea Miller, Artistic Director of Gallim Dance

It’s hard to fathom all that choreographer Andrea Miller has accomplished in the past six years. She has created a highly acclaimed company, Gallim Dance, that this year alone will tour to the Guggenheim Museum, Sadler’s Wells (London), Brooklyn Academy of MusicThéâtre National de Chaillot (Paris), and festivals in Germany and Austria. She’s won awards from the Princess Grace Foundation and USA Artists. She’s been commissioned by Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (The Hague),  Noord Nederlandse Danse, Phantom Limb and Bern Ballet (Switzerland). And a year ago, she established a permanent home in Brooklyn that hosts year-round education and performance programs.

But this week, she comes home to Connecticut, a state where she spent her formative years, attending the Foote School in New Haven and Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford. Andrea’s mother Irena Tocino was a great friend of Mariam McGlone, who together with Center for the Arts staff founded DanceMasters Weekend at Wesleyan. Mariam was an important mentor to Andrea, and the young dancer came to take Master Classes at DanceMasters while she was studying at Juilliard. Mariam always knew she would end up a choreographer! In 2011, Wesleyan awarded her the Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award, and her company brought the audience literally to their feet.

What’s distinctive about Andrea’s choreography is its visceral quality: it is fearless movement that is at times poetic, and at other times, quite mad. Her dancers are all individuals – their personalities, their passions are all accessible and immediate.

We always knew we wanted to bring her back for a full evening program, and we were delighted when her schedule opened up to make that possible. Tonight, Andrea will have dinner with Jewish students on campus and discuss the creative path that led her to Mama Call (2011), the work that will open the program and has roots in Andrea Miller’s Sephardic-American heritage. Ms. Miller adapts the Sephardic story into a contemporary and more universal tale of border-crossing investigating the idea of how those who have been displaced rescue the idea of “home.” The second piece on the program is a Gallim masterpiece, Pupil Suite, created in 2010.

Join us as we welcome this extraordinary choreographer and her company of brilliant dancers to Wesleyan.

See the feature from the Sunday, February 3 edition of the Hartford Courant here.

Spring Events include World, U.S. & New England Premieres

Gallim Dance performs February 8 & 9, 2013 as part of the Performing Arts Series.

This spring at the Center for the Arts we bring you work that is of today: innovative, inquisitive and sure to surprise and engage you. Continuing our exploration of Music & Public Life, we bring you a concert of music from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello–what you might have heard both in the mansion and in the slaves’ quarters–where audiences will have the chance to experience the first glass harmonica on the Crowell Concert Hall stage. The great activist and trumpeter Hugh Masekela will bring his band to Wesleyan, and our own West African Drumming ensemble will have the chance to open for him. In dance, we bring back Andrea Miller’s Gallim Dance after their performance at the DanceMasters Weekend Showcase in 2011 brought audiences to their feet. Her piece Mama Call investigates her Spanish-Sephardic heritage, and the reprise of Pupil features the spirited music of Balkan Beat Box. In theater, we bring the master innovator Lee Breuer to campus with his newest work Glass Guignol, a compilation of texts from Tennessee Williams’ women, performed by the indomitable Maude Mitchell.

In Zilkha Gallery, Lucy and Jorge Orta’s Food-Water-Life will be on view. This is the first-ever solo show in the U.S. of work by these Paris-based artists, who stage performative events to bring attention to some of the world’s most urgent environmental and social issues. The colorful sculptural works, including a large canoe, and three parachutes, will take advantage of Zilkha’s scale, and a series of food events is being staged to more deeply connect you to the themes of the show.

Spring is also when you have the chance to put your finger on the pulse of the next generation of contemporary artists: an evening of work by seniors in dance, three theater thesis productions, four weeks of thesis exhibitions in Zilkha, and two solid months of music recitals will give audiences an overview of the art that is being generated at Wesleyan.

So please join us! We look forward to welcoming you.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

World Premiere of Rinde Eckert’s “The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy” (Nov. 15-17)

Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge talks about the commission and research process for Rinde Eckert’s “The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy” (Nov. 15-17).

Rehearsal of Rinde Eckert’s “The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy” in CFA Theater.
Pictured: Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14 (sitting), Christine Treuhold ’13 (lying down).
Photo by John Carr, Wesleyan University Professor of Theater.

I met Rinde Eckert for the first time in 2008 at a gathering of universities who had been awarded Creative Campus grants from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.  Rinde had just finished creating a work entitled Eye Piece at his alma mater, the University of Iowa. He worked with theater students and faculty to research the effects of macular degeneration and the experiences of people dealing with eye disease, including those who have lost or are losing their vision.  A Grammy Award-winning musician, writer, composer, librettist, and director, Rinde is one of this country’s most innovative performance artists whose work spans music genres of all kinds, experimental theater and dance.  When he spoke about his work in Iowa, I was struck by his generosity of spirit—how he took students into his production that other faculty members were unable to cast in their productions.  I saw how moved he was by the process of making the work and how it was every bit as meaningful to him as the end product.  I thought, this person can collaborate with anyone in the world, but he chooses to work with university students—this is a unique and special artist, a perfect fit for Wesleyan.

The Center for the Arts is in year three of the four-year Creative Campus Initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. One of the Initiative’s primary goals is to support generative artists in theater, music and dance (including faculty artists and visiting artists) who work with scholars and materials in both arts and non-arts disciplines to advance the artists’ research and extend the arts into campus curricular and co-curricular life.

Rinde became an ideal candidate for a commission.  We invited him to Wesleyan in November 2010 (he remembered his first trip to Wesleyan was when he was attending graduate school at the Yale School of Music). Rinde Eckert has built a dynamic theatrical logic that he describes as “fiercely interdisciplinary.” When Rinde met with the Theater Department and Center for the Arts staff he discussed the idea of writing a play about “otherness.” In the spring of 2011, Eckert was invited by the Theater Department to create a work over the course of 2012 that would result in a Department production in the fall of 2012, devised by Eckert, faculty and visiting designers, and theater students.

Over the course of the two years, Eckert was in regular conversation with Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters at Wesleyan who has published widely on theories and representations of animal otherness (Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now, 2012). He conducted a module in Weil’s spring 2012 course, Thinking Animals: An Introduction to Animal Studies. In addition, he discussed his ideas extensively with John Kirn, Chair of Wesleyan’s Neuroscience and Behavior Program. He also presented a Music Department Colloquium and met with other faculty members across the campus.

During the summer of 2012, Eckert was awarded a Creative Residency by Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP). He spent a week working on the piece in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio; discussing his creative process with ICPP students and students at the Center for Creative Youth; working with music collaborator Ned Rothenberg; and meetings with scenic designer and Adjunct Associate Professor Marcela Oteíza to prepare for the fall rehearsal period.

The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy emerged as a work about a man raised by wolves who finds himself toward the end of his life at the top of the food chain. Powerful and erudite, he longs for a return to the wildness of the wolf he was—but how does one recover one’s original, less conditioned or acculturated self?

Marcela became an essential collaborator in the development of the piece.  She devised a visual identity for the work anchored in 144 small wooden benches that measure 10.5” x 18” x 8”.  The benches are unfinished, in their natural state, but at the same time, they are hand-crafted, “man-made.”  The actors arrange them horizontally when they form the camp-fire but as the world of the play becomes more “civilized,” vertical structures emerge.  As the play develops, the actors literally sculpt the set before our eyes.  The effect is tremendous.

In his program note for The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy, Rinde writes: “I’ve been thinking about nature and culture. I’ve been considering wolves. I’ve been interested in our self-descriptions, the line we draw between ourselves and the rest of everything. We are storytellers. We tell stories around the fire, protected by it, warmed by it, and if we get too distracted, burned by it.”

This is a play with big ideas enacted by Rinde Eckert and eight student actors: Sivan Battat ’15, Solomon Billinkoff ’14, Mikhail Firer ’13, Audrey Kiely ’13, Matthew Krakaur ’14, Jiovani Robles ’13, Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14, and Christine Treuhold ’13.  This is a world premiere, developed by an extraordinary artist with the help of Wesleyan faculty members and undergraduates—don’t miss this, it’s Wesleyan history in the making.

The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy
World Premiere
Written and directed by Rinde Eckert
Performed by Rinde Eckert and Wesleyan students
Thursday, November 15 & Friday, November 16, 2012 at 8pm

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 2pm & 8pm
CFA Theater
$8 general public; $5 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $4 Wesleyan students

Click here to watch a preview video of “The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy” which features interviews with Rinde Eckert and Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14.

Monica M. Tinyo ’13 on the Fall Senior Thesis Dance Concert (Oct. 26-27)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talks with Lindsay Kosasa ’13 and Kelsey Siegel ’13 about the Fall Senior Thesis Dance Concert (Oct. 26-27).

Tonight and Saturday, Wesleyan dance majors Lindsay Kosasa ’13 and Kelsey Siegel ’13 present the first installments of their theses at the Fall Senior Thesis Dance Concert. This weekend’s performances are only a part of each student’s thesis project, which will include one choreographed work per semester and an accompanying research paper. I had the opportunity to talk with Kosasa and Siegel about their theses, and will share what I learned from them here.


Lindsay Kosasa and Kelsey Siegel

Both Kosasa and Siegel assembled teams of five “movers”—dance majors and non-majors alike—to perform their works. Both consciously chose to describe the performers as “movers” rather than “dancers”, which fits with their conceptual frame of dance. Both Kosasa’s and Siegel’s projects are interdisciplinary and focus on concept more than technique, reflecting their modern dance backgrounds. While Kosasa’s and Siegel’s projects are different in both concept and process, both were inspired by each student’s second major: Kosasa is a Dance and East Asian Studies double-major and Siegel is a Dance and Math double-major.

Kosasa’s piece is an exploration and expression of trauma through dance, and she utilized different intellectual approaches to movement in post-war (post-atomic bomb) performance art, visual art and literature for inspiration. Although Kosasa is not in her piece (standard practice for Wesleyan dance theses), she will be operating a projector during the performance that will illuminate a screen behind the movers. She will produce “textures” and imagery through live manipulation of materials like water, food coloring and cornstarch in a box that will be captured by a camera above. The imagery and textures are used as a way to extract movement qualities from the movers that evoke Kosasa’s interpretation of trauma. This projection is inspired by Kosasa’s experience at Butoh workshops in Japan in the spring of 2012.

Kosasa wanted the dance to form naturally through collaboration rather than be dictated by specificities in her research. She only shared her topic with the movers later in the process because she didn’t want to have the movement be theatrical or determined by individual movers’ unavoidably and understandably narrow notions of trauma.

Siegel, on the other hand, did give her movers direction, explaining enough about her project to guide the movers. However, like Kosasa, she limited her explanation in order to help the dance manifest organically. She directed the movers with open-ended questions: How do you create order in your own life? What is order? How do you move/orient yourself in different planes? And what does it mean to move horizontally or vertically? When performing, the movers are also directed by a grid created by Siegel as a physical manifestation of an x-y plane; the performers move in, out and through the grid throughout the performance.

In her project, Siegel illuminates and simultaneously questions how we organize ourselves in space. She has been researching concepts and formulas related to the grid, focusing on how we draw lines and curves in space. She explains that although there are no “right” directions in modern dance, certain movement styles move across a certain plane. Her research has led her to understand that many artists, especially modern choreographers, use mathematical perspective in constructing pieces without realizing it.  She is also researching chaos theory and how it applies to improvisation in dance. Siegel explains that much of her research is conducted through the actual process of creating the dance in her own examination of the spatial organization of the movers.

Kosasa and Siegel work to manifest an idea through the body in a way that is relatable to a variety of audience members. You don’t need to understand techniques of dance, chaos theory, or post-war performance art to understand the concepts that the artists are grappling with or to enjoy the performance.

Please join us at the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio, 247 Pine Street this weekend to celebrate the work of Kosasa, Siegel and their movers. Don’t hesitate; tickets are selling fast!

Making the Invisible “visible” (October 6)

Pamela Tatge, Director of the Center for the Arts, shares the highlights from a discussion earlier this week in South College with the choreographers Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Nora Chipaumire about their work and the development of the piece “visible”, which will have its New England premiere in the CFA Theater on Saturday, October 6 at 8pm.

When Nora Chipaumire fled Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) in 2000, she was pursuing a law degree. After moving to New York, she discovered dance and the work of Urban Bush Women.  “In Rhodesia, I was not a person. Part of leaving Zimbabwe for the U.S. was about becoming human. I discovered that what I was most interested in was advocacy.  The idea of advocacy exists in both the law and in dance.  In dance, there is an advocacy that is immediate, human—and not on a piece of paper.”  Nora Chipaumire and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (founder and Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women) spoke at an informal lunch with Wesleyan faculty and students on Monday. Together, they have created visible, which will have its New England premiere on Saturday night in the CFA Theater. Ms. Chipaumire won Wesleyan’s Emerging Choreographer Award (at the annual DanceMasters Weekend) in 2007;  Ms. Zollar has a history with the Center for the Arts, as a member of the Center for Creative Research and having brought her company to Wesleyan twice in the past six years (including DanceMasters Weekend in 2006).

Ms. Chipaumire met Ms. Zollar when she auditioned for Urban Bush Women. Ms. Zollar talked about how striking Ms. Chipaumire was when she walked into the studio: ”I thought to myself, ‘God I hope she can dance.’”  Ms. Chipaumire shared that Ms. Zollar became “a comrade, a teacher, a guide—a sister.”  Ms. Zollar explained that over the years, Ms. Chipaumire has given her as much as she has taught. Ms. Chipaumire became a leading collaborator when Urban Bush Women (an all female company) embarked on making a piece with the all-male Senegalese company Compagnie Jant-B (presented on the Breaking Ground Dance Series at the Center for the Arts in February 2008).  Ms. Zollar and Ms. Chipaumire described all of the challenges of Urban Bush Women’s residency in Senegal, all of the differences—brought up by gender, culture, and education—that needed to be “unpacked.”

Their collaborative work, visible, grew out of some of these challenges, and the question “how do you really talk across cultural boundaries?” The piece was originally entitled visible/invisible, but Ms. Chipaumire explained they wanted drop the “victim” quality of the word “invisible.” “The fact is, we are visible,” said Ms. Chipaumire. “How can we learn to talk about things that are close to the jugular? Because in the space of difference—that’s where life is happening.”

The dancers chosen by the choreographers to perform in visible are almost all immigrants to the United States. Each is virtuosic in their own right, and each was encouraged to perform dances in their “mother tongue.”  For example, Catherine Denecy from Guadaloupe performs movement based on traditional forms from her country; Marguerite Hemmings from Jamaica performs work that is derived from dance halls; and Judith Jacobs from Holland is a true post-modernist. “The piece is a lot like the idea of jazz—each instrument has its own voice, but they come together as one sound,” said Ms. Zollar.  Two percussionists join the dancers onstage to help bring the piece to life.

Earlier in the day on Saturday (at 11am in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio), Ms. Zollar will give a free masterclass. She will also give a talk before the performance (at 7:30pm in CFA Hall). Then after the performance, the audience will have the chance to discuss the notion of migration/immigration, led by Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton.  Do join us on Saturday!

New England Premiere

Choreography by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Nora Chipaumire
Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 8pm

CFA Theater
$23; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Pre-performance talk at 7:30pm in CFA Hall by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

Ms. Zollar will also teach a masterclass on Saturday, October 6 at 11am in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio, located at 247 Pine Street. The masterclass is free with the purchase of a ticket to Saturday night’s performance. Registration for the masterclass is required. To purchase tickets and register for the masterclass, please contact the Wesleyan University Box office at boxoffice@wesleyan.edu or 860-685-3355.

Fall Events include World, New England & Connecticut Premieres, Navaratri Festival

Rama Vaidyanathan performs on October 21, 2012 as part of the 36th annual Navaratri Festival

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.”

October and November bring the return of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women in a stunning work she co-created with Nora Chipaumire (visible) that features an international cast of all-star dancers; as well as the CFA’s commission of a work by the fiercely interdisciplinary writer/director Rinde Eckert (this year’s winner of an inaugural Duke Performing Artist Award). The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy has been developed with students and faculty in Music, Animal Studies and Neuroscience and is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Creative Campus Initiative.

It’s a robust fall, rich with work that brings us into new conversations with art and its possibilities. We hope you’ll join us!

Best regards,

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

A Busy Week

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.

We sent out letters of acceptance to the Class of 2013’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance the same day we found out that the program will be receiving its first grant from the National Endowment for the Arts!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012:

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!

Reception for Senior Thesis Exhibition Week One (3/28/12). Photo by Nam Anh Ta '12.

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.

Thursday, April 5, 2012:

Today I’m on a plane headed to Cleveland to do a site visit of Cuyahoga Community College’s Creative Campus project on behalf of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.  The project features the prolific and generous violin virtuoso, Daniel Bernard Roumain (you may remember him downstage left playing solo violin for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s performance in the CFA Theater in 2006). He’s written an opera based on Gilgamesh and the composition has been offered on the web to anyone who wants to create their own work using his composition. He has truly democratized the creation process and tonight I’ll have the chance to see his ensemble perform alongside faculty, students and community members.

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.

It’s been a busy week.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts