Margaret Jenkins Dance Company Joins the CFA to Celebrate 40 Years (Feb. 14 & 15)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Wesleyan DanceLink Fellow Cynthia Tong ’14 about Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, who will be performing the New England premiere of “Times Bones” on Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15, 2014. 

In 1970, a young Margaret Jenkins returned home to San Francisco where her family had lived for generations.  She had been studying with dance legend Merce Cunningham in New York and brought back with her the new and exciting ideas emerging in the field of modern dance.

The founding of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company in 1973 was a milestone for the city of San Francisco, signaling the spread of the American avant-garde movement that had begun on the east coast with Mr. Cunningham and his contemporaries.

Although the company has for decades been at the heart of the local arts scene in San Francisco, the company has also gained international acclaim.  In the late 1970s, the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company began touring the United States on a regular basis, and has since then traveled throughout Europe and Asia to perform.

Kelly Del Rosario and the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company in "Times Bones" (Preview 2012); photo by Margo Moritz.
Kelly Del Rosario and the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company in “Times Bones” (Preview 2012); photo by Margo Moritz.

This weekend their journey brings them back to Wesleyan University for the New England premiere of Times Bones, a fitting venue given that this season is the 40th anniversary for both Margaret Jenkins Dance Company and the Center for the Arts. [Margaret Jenkins Dance Company previously performed at Wesleyan in April 1990.  This weekend is also the first performance by Margaret Jenkins Dance Company in New England since 1998.]

In thinking about a way to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the company, Ms. Jenkins began revisiting past works.  She reread journals and notes, mined her extensive archives, and examined all 68 works recorded on videotape, all the while asking, “What were the stories in those pieces that were still untold?”

To use the language of the ancient Egyptian myth of Osiris that partly inspired her process, she was gathering the “bones” of her repertory.  From these fragments, she has choreographed a new whole: the evening-length piece titled Times Bones.

But the work is not as simple as a dance down Memory Lane.  The hope in returning to previous choreography was never to go back in time, but rather to push forward.

“The piece as a whole is aiming to find a new beginning,” says Wesleyan DanceLink Fellow Cynthia Tong ’14, who worked closely with Ms. Jenkins and the members of the company as an intern in San Francisco this past summer.  “It’s a look toward the future.”

Ms. Tong describes the studio where the company rehearses as a safe space with a positive atmosphere, a place where experimentation and productivity go hand in hand. “Work was getting done while ideas were being thrown around,” she recalls.

Like many of her former works, Times Bones is the product of a deeply collaborative process.  As Ms. Jenkins explains, “The role of the dancers in making my work is absolutely substantive and primary to my process.”

The aura of collaboration in the studio invites the dancers to speak up and share their opinions and ideas.  “She’s very open to hearing what other people have to say,” Ms. Tong remarks.

The role of the interpreter is crucial to her work.  While choreographing she asks her dancers to interpret various prompts and experiments, and in performance she invites the interpretations of the audience, never declaring one right or another wrong.

“She believes that when audiences go see her work there are a hundred different possible interpretations and that is part of her goal,” says Ms. Tong.  “The audience is the final collaborator.”

Cynthia Tong will give a pre-performance talk on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 7:30pm in the CFA Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown. Margaret Jenkins will teach a free master class on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 11am in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio, 247 Pine Street, Middletown.

Margaret Jenkins Dance Company: Times Bones
New England Premiere
Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 8pm
CFA Theater, 271 Washington Terrace, Middletown
$25 general public; $21 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Spend Valentine’s Day at the CFA – click to view special “prix fixe” menus that will be available at five Middletown restaurants for dinner on Friday, February 14, 2014.

Spring Events Include New England Premieres and Connecticut Debuts

PrintAs winter sets in, the Center for the Arts heats up with many events and experiences designed to inspire, entertain, provoke and delight. We are welcoming two groups who, like the CFA, are also celebrating their 40th anniversary. The first is Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier dance companies that will perform the New England premiere of Times Bones, an enthralling work that features music by Paul Dresher and poetry by Michael Palmer. Jenkins is one of this country’s master choreographers with an astonishing body of work and we are delighted to be bringing her company to Connecticut. We are also bringing members of Sweet Honey in the Rock to Wesleyan. For four decades, this Grammy Award-winning all female African American a cappella group has brought joy to audiences around the world. Three members of Sweet Honey will be teaching workshops that will culminate in a showing on April 17. This is an extraordinary opportunity for both singers and non-singers to enter into their creation and performance practice. Other highlights of the spring include the first major solo exhibition in the U.S. by Paris-based American artist Evan Roth, whose work lives at the intersection of viral media and art, graffiti and technology. You’ll also have the opportunity to hear Ukranian Vadym Kholodenko, winner of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, play a program that includes Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, and Nikolai Medtner. Wesleyan’s Music Department will host the 28th conference of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, which will feature a series of concerts where you can immerse yourself in new music by American composers. And Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton will premiere the work Threshold Sites: Feast, which explores how we experience and enact our own corporeality, and how that impacts the way we experience our communities and our environments. At the end of the semester, you’ll have the chance to see the culminating works created by Wesleyan students, and be able to put your finger on the pulse of the current generation of art makers. Highlights include a production of Slawomir Mrozek’s Vatzlav, directed by Lily Whitsitt ’06; thesis performances in music and dance; and three weeks of thesis exhibitions by studio art majors. We have a rich and expansive spring planned for you. Please join us as often as you can.

Pamela Tatge
Center for the Arts

37th annual Navaratri Festival features world famous flute virtuoso and acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer (Oct. 10-13)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 discusses the 37th annual Navaratri Festival at Wesleyan, which takes place from Thursday, October 10 through Sunday, October 13, 2013.

The sound spirals from Shashank Subramanyam’s bamboo flute, lingering in the air, each note like a bird taking flight. The cadence flutters, falls, and rises again. He sits at ease before the mesmerized audience. He has done this a million times before and traveled all over the world to perform, from the President’s Palace in New Delhi to the Improvisation Festival in Switzerland to the World Flute Conference in Nashville. His next destination? Middletown, Connecticut for Wesleyan’s 37th annual Navaratri Festival.

One of India’s major festival traditions, Navaratri literally means “nine nights.” During this time, there are nine consecutive nights of music and dance performances all across India. 37 years ago, Wesleyan’s first ever visiting artist for World Music and his brother began the tradition of celebrating Navaratri at Wesleyan. The festival has become one of the University’s most cherished and unique traditions, and Wesleyan Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music B. Balasubrahmaniyan (Balu) says there are no other festivals of its nature or scale in the United States. This year’s festival brings two world famous artists to campus, one for the second time, and the other for the first.

Shashank Subramanyam
Shashank Subramanyam

Mr. Subramanyam performed at Wesleyan’s Navaratri Festival in September 2003 [during the 30th anniversary season of the Center for the Arts], and it is a great honor to welcome him back this year. Deemed a child prodigy, he has played a defining role in classical Indian music for the past three decades. In 1984, only six years old at the time, he played with a top-ranking accompanist in his debut performance. At age twelve, he became the youngest musician to ever perform the senior-most slot at the Music Academy, Chennai, a performance typically entrusted to legendary musicians.  Since then, he himself has become a legend of classical Indian music.

Balu describes Mr. Subramanyam as a “self-made musician” and speaks to his extraordinary talent and remarkable versatility.  According to Balu, “he can handle any type of composition with ease.” Mr. Subramanyam has collaborated with many other musicians, including jazz and folk musicians, and in 2009 he received a Grammy Award nomination for the album Floating Point with John McLaughlin.  At Wesleyan, Nishanth Chandran will join him on violin and Sai Giridhar on mridangam.  The performance will take place in Crowell Concert Hall on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 8pm. Earlier that day, at 3pm in Crowell Concert Hall, Mr. Subramanyam will give a free lecture/demonstration.

Aparna Ramaswamy
Aparna Ramaswamy

On Sunday, another world famous artist, dancer Aparna Ramaswamy, takes the stage in Crowell Concert Hall for the Connecticut premiere of Sannidhi (Sacred Space).  Ms. Ramaswamy has also performed all across the globe, but never before at Wesleyan [or in Connecticut]. She is a disciple of Alarmel Valli, one of the greatest Bharatanatyam dancers today, and like her legendary teacher, Ms. Ramaswamy infuses traditional Bharatanatyam dance with her own contemporary aesthetic. Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan explains, “Aparna uses the classical grammar of Bharatanatyam as a framework, a kind of empty canvas upon which she imprints hues, colors and tints of her personality.”

A new solo dance work, Sannidhi (Sacred Space) explores how the stage can be transformed into a spiritual site. The performance employs the rich tradition of Bharatanatyam dance as a means of posing timeless questions about space and spirituality. “Aparna has created an exciting, brand new repertoire of dances that take audiences on a journey of kinesthetic spectacle, emotional intensity, and gorgeous musicality,” Mr. Krishnan said. “She is always present on stage and engages with the audiences with every fiber of her being.”  Sannidhi (Sacred Space) will take place at 3pm on Sunday, October 13, 2013 and will include a post-performance question-and-answer session with Ms. Ramaswamy.

[Click here to read the October 8 article by Siobhan Burke in The New York Times, Pleasing Deities, and the Eyes, With Storytelling Steps From India, which includes a review of Sannidhi (Sacred Space).]

Navaratri is a celebration of music and dance, a time to rejoice, share food, and be with family and friends.  We hope you will join us in welcoming Mr. Subramanyam and Ms. Ramaswamy into our community.

37th annual Navaratri Festival

Henna and Chaat hosted by Shakti
Thursday, October 10, 2013 from 7pm to 9pm
Olin Library Lobby

B. Balasubrahmaniyan: Vocal Music of South India
Friday, October 11, 2013 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$12 general public; $10 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Talk by Assistant Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan:
“Celluloid Classicism–Intertwined Histories of the South Indian ‘Dance Revival’ and Early South Indian Cinema

Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 1pm
CFA Hall

Lecture/Demonstration by Shashank Subramanyam
Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 3pm
Crowell Concert Hall

Shashank Subramanyam
Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$15 general public; $12 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Saraswati Puja (Hindu Ceremony)
Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 11am
World Music Hall

Aparna Ramaswamy: Sannidhi (Sacred Space)
Connecticut Premiere
Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 3pm

Crowell Concert Hall
$15 general public; $12 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Made possible by the Music Department, the Center for the Arts, the Jon B. Higgins Memorial Fund, the Madhu Reddy Endowed Fund for Indian Music and Dance at Wesleyan University, the Raga Club of Connecticut, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Middlesex Community College, Haveli Indian Restaurant, and individual patrons.

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.

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.

“Summer at the CFA” includes New England premieres of Gallim Dance’s “Mama Call” (July 11-12) & Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s “Word Becomes Flesh” (July 18)

Tickets for Gallim Dance and Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Word Becomes Flesh are now on sale online! Click here to buy your tickets.



Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talks to playwright Christina Anderson (Apr. 12)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talks to playwright Christina Anderson, who will be giving the free talk “The Theater as Apparatus: Why This Play? Why Now?” on Friday, April 12, 2013 at 4:15pm in CFA Hall.


Christina Anderson

When asked in an interview “why theater?”, Christina Anderson answered “I love the fact that adults are willing to pretend for 90 minutes.” Christina fell in love with the play and power of theater as a child and hasn’t stopped writing since. Lucky for me, she did put down her keyboard for a few minutes to chat with me about her work, process and upcoming talk.

Monica Tinyo: What will you be talking about this Friday?

Christina Anderson: The goal of the speech is to talk about my background and relationship with theater and [how to have it] be a part of my life, rather than it be my life. I want to look at different ways that social responsibility can play a part in the stories we tell and the importance of using theater as an apparatus because, in all honesty, we can’t compete with television or film, but on the flip side, they can’t compete with us, either. Its really about finding these ways that theater is unique and necessary, and using the apparatus of theater in celebrating live performance.

I love theater. There are things that frustrate me about the business, but there are things about it that I love. I just hope that my day [at Wesleyan] will offer some insight into the early stages of making a career out of [playwriting and a love of theater].

Can you talk a little about your recent projects? Maybe Hollow Roots (performed in January as part of The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival in New York City) and this idea of the neutral narrative?

Hollow Roots is about a female protagonist who goes on a quest to find a person of color with a neutral narrative—neutral narrative being a narrative by someone who is not affected by their race or gender; she is in this fictitious New York-like city on a quest to find this person and it ends up being her.

I was just really interested in this [solo performance] structure, and as I was starting to do research, I noticed that a lot of solo shows featured people of color who embodied various characters—the theatricality being that all these different people live in this one body. On the other hand, solo performances by white men were usually solo narratives—sitting for an hour and telling a story. I was really fascinated by that. I wanted to challenge myself to create a lone [“neutral”] narrator, who we would visually identify as a black person.

Is this indicative of how you normally create a work? What is your process as a playwright?

With all my plays, it starts from a series of questions. The purpose of writing isn’t about finding a single solution or answer. It’s about exploration and discovering possibilities. For Hollow Roots, it was “what is it like to live as a person of color in a society that considers itself post-racial?”

I do a ton of research before I start any play; I usually come in to it with a theme and read a ton of books, essays, analytical writing, music, art, blogs, plays by playwrights I admire. I just get a big pot of information, stir it up, and start thinking about the theatrical world that I am trying to create. I always try to challenge myself when I write—a two character play, or a solo play, and then I develop a character or a few characters and figure out what the relationships between them are. I make an outline of all this and then I just write.

Christina is a rare talent who is equally a teacher and a story-teller, making us question all the certainties we take for granted. Her openness and curiosity are infectious. I will leave you today with a few wise words from Christina:

Be present. Don’t bother posting a picture of the meal you cooked. Don’t post the song you just danced to. Don’t tag the friend you just hung out with. Just do it. Be present. Let the experience, the memory live in your muscles, your limbs—not on Facebook. Nourish is a verb. Give yourself the things you need to grow, to be healthy, to be your ideal self.

For more, visit this post and come hear her speak this Friday at 4:15pm in the Center for the Arts Hall. An Outside the Box Theater Series event presented by the Theater Department and the Center for the Arts, co-sponsored by the Center for African American Studies and the Wesleyan Writing Programs.

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!

Trailblazing Lee Breuer at Wesleyan this Weekend

Director of the Center for the Arts Pamela Tatge talks with Lee Breuer, who conceived and adapted (with Maude Mitchell) “Glass Guignol: The Brother and Sister Play,” which will receive its first Connecticut performance on Saturday, February 16 at 8pm.  

Lee Breuer

One of my top ten theater experiences of all time was seeing Lee Breuer and Bob Telson’s The Gospel at Colonus, a Pentacostal version of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus that premiered at BAM’s Next Wave Festival.  I remember getting completely immersed in the world that Mr. Breuer created, and knew that he was pushing the theatrical form unlike anybody else.  Since then, the co-founder of Mabou Mines has created work after work for those with an appetite for intelligent, risk-taking and provocative work in downtown New York and around the world. Wesleyan audiences will remember his talks as a part of the Outside the Box Theater Series over the years, and many Connecticut theater-goers had the opportunity to see his masterpiece, Mabou Mines DollHouse in New Haven in 2006 [a Long Wharf Theatre/Yale Repertory Theatre co-presentation].

This Saturday, Mr. Breuer brings his latest work, Glass Guignol: The Brother and Sister Play, to Wesleyan. When I spoke with Mr. Breuer about what compelled him to make this piece, he told me about the intensity of his experience directing A Streetcar Named Desire for the Comédie-Française.  The legendary theater company had never presented an American play in its 330 year history, and they chose Mr. Brueuer to bring the American classic to life in a new French adaptation.  The work played to rave reviews and sold out houses for six months straight, until the Williams estate shut it down.  He explained that they didn’t like the non-traditional unorthodox direction, and wanted to keep it from being seen.

“Tennessee was brought down by critics, in the end,” Mr. Breuer explained. “They hated him because he was gay, and because he changed his style of work. He wrote 30 plays after he brought Streetcar to Broadway, only a few of which got any attention. I could relate to that.” Mr. Breuer went onto say that he got rave reviews of Gospel at Colonus when it was at BAM, but that all changed when it went to Broadway.  “In Glass Guignol, I’m experimenting with how to direct Williams’ later plays which have yet to be successfully done.”

At 76, Mr. Breuer said he’s working on three plays simultaneously.  “I have a lot I want to do while I can,” he said. Glass Guignol is an exploration/excavation of the multi-faceted fictional refractions arising from Williams’ erotic, voyeuristic relationship with his sister, Rose.  It uses Two-Character Play as a frame and then references many of the women in Williams’ other plays, stories, and poems [The Glass Menagerie, A Cavalier for Milady, and Suddenly Last Summer] that dramatize the brother/sister relationship. Actress Maude Mitchell co-created the work and plays many of the women.  The play also features Jessica Weinstein ’02, the only actress ever to appear twice in one season at the Center for the Arts!  Last September, Wesleyan audiences had the chance to fall in love with Ms. Weinstein’s Tall Hilda in Anonymous Ensemble’s Liebe Love Amour!

A Mabou Mines Masterclass Workshop Production
“Glass Guignol: The Brother and Sister Play”
Conceived and adapted by Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell
Saturday, February, 16, 2013 at 8pm
CFA Theater
$25 general public; $20 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Panel Discussion: Tennessee Williams after “Iguana”
Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 4:15pm
CFA Hall

Featuring Lee Breuer, Maude Mitchell, and Thomas Keith, Editor, New Directions Publishing and Dramaturg of Glass Guignol: The Brother and Sister Play. Moderated by Wesleyan Professor of Theater Ronald Jenkins.

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.