In the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery from January 29 to March 1, Studio Art faculty members Jeffrey Schiff and Sasha Rudensky curate Picture/Thing, an exhibition featuring the work of ten artists working at the intersection of photography and sculpture.
The New England debut of Riffat Sultana and Party took place on November 7, 2014, at Crowell Concert Hall. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.
Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) premieres the original documentary Creative Stages, hosted by Ed Wierzbicki, on Friday, November 28, 2014 at 8pm. This half-hour special is devoted to the arts, as Mr. Wierzbicki takes viewers “inside the creative process” while interviewing Connecticut artists and exploring local arts organizations, including Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts.
Hear from Pamela Tatge, Director of the Center for the Arts, as well as from visiting artists including Margaret Jenkins (Artistic Director of San Francisco’s Margaret Jenkins Dance Company), Anna Snow, Kerry Andrew, and Sarah Dacey of London’s Juice Vocal Ensemble, and Juliana Romano ’04 (featured in the exhibition The Alumni Show II in the Ezra and Cecila Zilkha Gallery), about the importance of this creative space to Wesleyan University and its students, as well as to the art world at large. The segment also includes footage of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange’s Ferocious Beauty: Genome, the Wesleyan Theater Department production of The Seagull, and a co-taught course by Professor of History and East Asian Studies William Johnston and Visiting Artist in Dance and the College of East Asian Studies Eiko Otake.
The program will also feature Javier Colon, the Yale University Art Gallery and artist Red Grooms, Waterbury’s Palace Theater and the Waterbury Arts Magnet School, and the Haven String Quartet at New Haven’s Lyric Hall.
“In its emotional nakedness, free-associative logic, and frank sensuality, the work of the Israeli-born couple Lee Sher and Saar Harari is inventive and arresting” (The New Yorker). The New England premiere of LeeSaar The Company’s Princess Crocodile was performed on Friday, September 19, 2014, in the CFA Theater. Images from dress rehearsal by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.
Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer–“one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today” (Pitchfork)–along with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, performed as the Vijay Iyer Trio at Crowell Concert Hall on Saturday, October 11, 2014. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography. Click here to view the full album on flickr.
CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Dawn Elder, manager of Riffat Sultana, who makes her New England debut with her band Party at Wesleyan on Friday, November 7, 2014 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall.
“Riffat Sultana channels the musical wisdom of 500 years and eleven generations of master musicians from India and Pakistan, bringing a spectacular voice and talent to the world stage.” —Banning Eyre, Afropop Worldwide
In 1995, Riffat Sultana became the first woman in her family to sing in public.
Her father, the late Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, is universally recognized as one of the greatest Pakistani classical singers of his generation. Her mother, Razia, comes from a line of highly respected Shiite musicians in India and is herself a talented vocalist. But as a woman, Razia was prohibited from singing in public, with the exception of Sufi ceremonies held in the family home.
Riffat expressed an interest in music early in life, wishing from a young age that she could study classical music like her four brothers. Denied the opportunity to study music formally, she picked up what she could from traditional and popular songs she heard on tapes and on the radio.
Learning songs came easily for Riffat, and soon family friends began to comment on her unusual talent and promising voice. Some even offered to teach her classical music, but her father refused.
But her big break came in 1990, when her father invited her to tour with him in Europe and the United States. Although primarily tasked with tending to the domestic needs of her father and brothers on tour, Riffat was permitted to join them onstage to play the tambura, a traditional string instrument.
Ultimately, Riffat and her brother, Sukhawat Ali Khan, convinced their father to let them move to the United States. Here they found welcoming communities of American-Pakistani musicians who encouraged them to pursue their passion for music. In 1995, Riffat took the stage to sing publicly for the first time.
Riffat’s musical career took off from there. At first, she kept it a secret from her father, but eventually he learned of her growing success, and gave her his blessing to continue performing. He even taught her the classical forms of his unique style of vocalization and music.
That influence is evident in Riffat’s music today. “She has a versatility of taking her vocalization and her improv and fitting it within a western sound, [but also] fitting intimately into a natural folk traditional style,” said her manager, Dawn Elder.
“It’s the warmth that draws me to her music,” said Ms. Elder. “It’s the intimate tonality and the authenticity of her sound. Not a lot of frill, not a lot of fuss—just pure music.”
Riffat Sultana has collaborated with many influential musicians including Quincy Jones and Nile Rodgers. She has shared the stage with Patti Austin, Lionel Loueke, Richard Bona, Michael Franti, and Ben Harper, among others.
“She’s one of the only Pakistani female singers to ever perform with full orchestration,” explained Ms. Elder. “There has not been anyone quite like her, [and] she has certainly opened a door for other women.”
As part of Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan, Riffat Sultana makes her New England debut this Friday, November 7, 2014 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall. Performing a wide variety of traditional and modern works from Pakistan and India, Riffat will be accompanied by an all-star ensemble that includes her brother Sukhawat Ali Khan on vocals and harmonium, her husband Richard Michos on guitar, Gurdeep Singh on tabla, dholak, and dhol (double-headed drums), Jay Gandhi on bansuri (bamboo flute), and very special guest Mitch Hyare, an internationally renowned dhol master.
“Her music is unexpected and exciting and really warm,” said Ms. Elder. “She brings you into her backyard. She welcomes you into her home. The stage is her home.”
Riffat Sultana and Party
New England Debut
Friday, November 7, 2014 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$22 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
A Crowell Concert Series event presented by the Music Department and the Center for the Arts.
Pre-concert talk at 7:15pm by Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk.
Tell Your Story: A Conversation with Riffat Sultana and Party
Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 7pm
CFA Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown
Hear from Sufi fusion singer Riffat Sultana and Party about her experiences as a Muslim woman artist both in America and abroad in Pakistan and India. Moderated by Lebanese American writer, actress, and teaching artist Leila Buck ’99.
CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 discusses the events of “Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan.”
Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan is in full swing! We opened last month with the panel discussion Gender, Islam, and the “Muslim Problem,” organized and moderated by Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk, followed by the Planet Hip Hop Festival. For those of you who were unable to attend the Planet Hip Hop Festival, or for those of you who were there and wish to see if you made it into the video, you can see exciting footage here.
Earlier this month, Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan was featured on WNPR’s Where We Live with Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge joining Dr. Feryal Salem, Assistant Professor of Islamic Scriptures and Law, Co-Director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program, and Director of the Imam and Muslim Community Leadership Certificate Program at the Hartford Seminary, and Sufi fusion singer Riffat Sultana (who will perform at Wesleyan on Friday, November 7, 2014 at 8pm). Click here to listen to the broadcast.
A number of exciting Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan events are on the horizon. On Friday, October 24, 2014 at 8pm in the Memorial Chapel, Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio presents the premiere performance of the multimedia work To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars, a response to recent political changes in Crimea. Featuring live music and dance in collaboration with New York Crimean Tatar Ensemble Musical Director Nariman Asanov and Yevshan Ukrainian Vocal Ensemble Conductor Alexander Kuzma, the work explores issues of historical memory, cultural narrative, and the quest for human rights, as they relate to the history of Tatars, native inhabitants of Crimea, and their complex relationships with Ukraine and Russia. A free panel discussion, “Indigenous Ukrainian Perspectives of Crimea Post Russian-Invasion, will take place before the performance, on Friday, October 24, 2014 from 6pm to 7:30pm in Fayerweather Beckham Hall.
Next week, on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 7pm in CFA Hall, Lebanese American writer, actress, and teaching artist Leila Buck ’99 explores family, memory, and politics in her free solo performance Hkeelee (Talk to Me).
This semester, Ms. Buck is teaching a course in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program Department, Beyond “the Veil”: Representations and Realities of Muslim Women in the U.S., as part of the Creative Campus Initiative. The course employs artistic methods, personal narratives, and in-person connection to research and examine the dominant representations of Muslim women in the U.S. mainstream media and the complex realities of Muslim women’s lives.
Ms. Buck will also give a free workshop performance (Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 8pm), where she will present a work-in-progress showing of a collaborative theatrical work commissioned by the Center for the Arts as part of Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan.
In the meantime, we hope you will join us for all of these upcoming talks and performances.
CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Benjamin Zucker ’15 about the Vijay Iyer Trio, who perform on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall.
This Saturday, Grammy Award-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer takes the stage in Crowell Concert Hall, along with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, for what promises to be a landmark performance in the history of jazz at Wesleyan.
A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Mr. Iyer has been named “one of the world’s most inventive new-generation jazz pianists” (Guardian), “an American treasure” (Minnesota Public Radio), and “one of the best in the world at what he does” (Pitchfork).
What Mr. Iyer does is complex and multifaceted, innovative and cutting edge. “He’s doing a lot,” comments Wesleyan Music major Benjamin Zucker ’15. “He is literally and figuratively all over the world.”
Mr. Zucker met Mr. Iyer this past summer in Alberta, Canada at The Banff Centre’s International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, an annual three-week program of which Mr. Iyer is the Director. At Banff, Mr. Zucker had the opportunity to study directly under Mr. Iyer.
Mr. Zucker describes Mr. Iyer’s music as “intricate, rhythms against rhythms, and repeating figures that layer over each other.”
A polymath with a background in math and science, as well as the humanities and the arts, Mr. Iyer received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the cognitive science of music from University of California, Berkeley.
“He was studying the cognitive perception of music at U.C. Berkeley at the same time that he was playing in an active jazz scene in San Francisco and Oakland,” says Mr. Zucker. “He is someone who has thought a lot about what music can do and how we can get it to do what it does.”
In addition to his background in math and science, Mr. Iyer’s identity as a South Asian American informs his music. “There is a tradition of Asian American jazz, especially in the Bay Area,” explains Mr. Zucker. “But Vijay is at the forefront of a new wave of multicultural jazz and improvisation.”
A prolific composer, Mr. Iyer has released an astonishing eighteen albums over the years. His first album with the Vijay Iyer Trio, Historicity, came out in 2009 and quickly became one of the most influential and acclaimed albums in contemporary jazz.
“The trio is a very cohesive whole,” comments Mr. Zucker. “It really is a full give-and-take with everyone providing their own contribution to the overall rhythm.”
Mr. Iyer and the Vijay Iyer Trio speak to the ever-changing and dynamic nature of jazz music. According to Jazzwise Magazine, “The Vijay Iyer Trio has the potential to alter the scope, ambition and language of jazz piano forever.”
Mr. Zucker will give a pre-concert talk at 7:15pm this Saturday, October 11, 2014, prior to the performance at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall.
Vijay Iyer Trio
Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$25 general public; $22 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
This year, we invite you to join us as we welcome the world to Wesleyan. Artists working in contemporary or traditional forms from 18 different countries will be performing or exhibiting at the CFA over the next nine months.
A centerpiece of this year’s program is Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan, which begins in September. Each of the performers to be featured is Muslim or of Muslim heritage, has a distinct set of personal experiences, and is embedded in a particular place, society, and cultural tradition. It is our way of inviting audiences to celebrate the complexity of Muslim women today, while at the same time exploring the historical and cultural context from which these women have emerged. We are also inviting audiences to participate in the creative process as we give birth to a new play by Leila Buck ’99, based on stories of Muslim and Muslim-American women in our region.
We are also bringing one of the United States’ most innovative theater companies working at the intersection of text and technology, The Builders Association, for two performances in October. Their amazing production Sontag: Reborn is a portrait of the younger years of one of America’s most iconic intellectuals, Susan Sontag. In November, the Theater and Music Departments join forces to mount the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights, directed by Theater’s Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento with music direction by Nadya Potemkina, director of the Wesleyan University Orchestra. The musical was the thesis production of Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Theater major who graduated in ’02, who went on to win the Tony for “Best Original Score.” The book was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, who will be a visiting faculty member at Wesleyan this year. It is sure to be an extraordinary production. And throughout the fall, the epic-scale, haunting landscape paintings of Professor of Art Tula Telfair will be on view in Zilkha Gallery. We invite you to enter into the imaginary worlds that Telfair creates in twelve large-scale paintings that are simultaneously awe-inspiring and intimate.
We launched our new website over the summer, and we hope you’ll visit and return often to find out about all of the faculty, student, and visiting artist events and exhibitions this year. We hope you will look to us as a place of enlightenment and enjoyment in the coming months.
Center for the Arts
CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton about Dance Theatre of Harlem, Souleymane Badolo, and Ronald K. Brown, who will be featured as part of the 15th annual DanceMasters Weekend Showcase Performance on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8pm in the CFA Theater.
This Saturday marks the 15th annual DanceMasters Weekend Showcase Performance, bringing to the stage the work of four renowned choreographers: Souleymane Badolo, Ronald K. Brown, and works by Robert Garland and Helen Pickett performed by Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Mr. Badolo is the 2014 recipient of the Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award. Born in Burkina Faso, Mr. Badolo’s choreography is steeped in personal heritage and infused with worldly style. He began his career dancing with traditional African dance company the DAMA. In 1993, Mr. Badolo co-founded Kongo Ba Téria, a contemporary dance company based in the capital, Ouagadougou. After relocating to the United States in 2009, Mr. Badolo won the second annual Juried Bessie Award in 2012.
Wesleyan Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton says of Mr. Badolo, “He has his own take on how to weave together different forms and find personal expression in them. He represents a growing contemporary dance movement taking place in continental Africa, one that is blossoming in a really interesting way.”
Mr. Badolo has performed twice before at Wesleyan — first in the New England premiere of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Nora Chipaumire’s visible as part of the Breaking Ground Dance Series in October 2012, and again in July 2013 as the Danspace/Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance Creative Residency Artist on the CFA’s summer series.
[On Saturday, Mr. Badolo will be performing the New England premiere of an excerpt from Benon (2014), conceived and choreographed by Meritxell Barberá and Inma García, and set to traditional songs from Burkina Faso recorded by Victor Deme, Mahamad Billa, and Dankan Faso. Benon premiered in February 2014 at Danspace Project in New York City. Roughly translated to “harvest,” Benon is inspired by the Burkinabé tradition of dancing to celebrate the harvest.]
A second artist with a rich history of performing at Wesleyan, Ronald K. Brown returns to campus this weekend with his company, Evidence. Founded by Mr. Brown in 1985, the Brooklyn-based contemporary dance ensemble honors the human experience in the African diaspora through dance and storytelling. Their work fuses traditional African dance with contemporary choreography and often incorporates spoken word.
“There’s this sense of seamless flow in how he weaves together different movements,” says Ms. Stanton, who’s been following their work since the mid-1990s. “There’s something transcendent about him and his dancers.”
On Saturday, Evidence will perform Come Ye (2002), an original work by Mr. Brown set to the music of Nina Simone and Fela Kuti, which had been commissioned by the Center for the Arts in honor of the 30th anniversary of the CFA during the 2003-2004 season [the work received its New England premiere on the Breaking Ground Dance Series in February 2004.]
Mr. Brown has been a strong advocate for the growth of an African-American dance community throughout his career, a community to which the Dance Theatre of Harlem has made invaluable contributions.
Co-founded in 1969 by acclaimed ballet instructor Karel Shook and the New York City Ballet’s first African-American principal dancer Arthur Mitchell, Dance Theatre of Harlem became the first ballet company in America comprised entirely of black dancers. The company has since toured to over 40 countries on 6 continents. Dance Theatre of Harlem encompasses a leading arts education center, founded shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a mission to make dance accessible to all children in New York City, and specifically in Harlem, where Mr. Mitchell grew up.
[Dance Theatre of Harlem will be performing the Connecticut premieres of both New Bach (1999) a witty confection of urban post-modern neoclassicism choreographed by Robert Garland and set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach; and choreographer Helen Pickett’s passionate duet When Love (2012), a journey of discovery as a man and a woman open themselves to the tenderness and wonder of the human embrace, set to music by Philip Glass. This performance at Wesleyan will be the first appearance by Dance Theatre of Harlem in Connecticut since December 2003 at Foxwoods Resort Casino.]
Currently under the artistic directorship of Virginia Johnson, a founding member of Dance Theatre of Harlem and former principal dancer, the company continues to expand its community and education outreach efforts both nationally and internationally with their program Dancing Through Barriers.
And dancing through barriers is precisely what the work of Mr. Badolo, Mr. Brown, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem does. It is their ability to gracefully meld dance forms from disparate places, traditions, and eras that unites their work.
As Ms. Stanton phrased it, “There’s a fusion of techniques from across the African diaspora.”
They dance across borders and choreograph in the space between past and present, drawing from history and tradition to propel contemporary dance forward.
“The performance makes you ask a question about tradition,” says Ms. Stanton. “What do we mean when we say something is ‘traditional’ or not? What does it mean to be ‘contemporary’?”
15th annual DanceMasters Weekend
Saturday, March 8 & Sunday, March 9, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8pm
$28 general public; $24 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $8 Wesleyan students
Thirteen Master Classes will provide an opportunity for intermediate to advanced dance students and dance professionals to explore diverse dance techniques. Asterisks (*) denote the four teachers who will be teaching their first DanceMasters Weekend Master Class at Wesleyan in 2014.
On Saturday, March 8, Master Classes will be taught by the following six teachers:
Brandon “Peace” Albright (Artistic Director of Illstyle & Peace Productions, teaching a Hip Hop Master Class)
*Souleymane Badolo (the 2014 Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award recipient, teaching “Souleymane Badolo Repertory: A New Voice in African Dance”)
Ronald K. Brown (Artistic Director of Evidence Dance Company)
*Michelle Dorrance (Artistic Director of Dorrance Dance/New York, teaching a Tap Master Class)
*Virginia Johnson (Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem)
Eddie Taketa (Doug Varone & Dancers)
On Sunday, March 9, Master Classes will be taught by the following seven teachers:
*Maria Bauman (Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women)
Brian Brooks (Artistic Director of Brian Brooks Moving Company)
Bill Hastings (Broadway veteran, teaching a Jazz Dance Master Class)
Carolyn Kirsch (Broadway veteran, teaching “Never Stop Moving: A Fosse-Style Jazz Workshop for Older Dancers”)
Ryoko Kudo (Limón Dance Company)
Nicholas Leichter (Artistic Director of Nicholas Leichter Dance)
Aubrey Lynch (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)
To see the full Master Class schedule, please click here. DanceMasters Weekend Master Classes are $19 per class for the general public (plus a $6 registration fee), and $13 per class for Wesleyan students. A Weekend Pass, which includes five Master Classes and one ticket to the Showcase Performance, is $100 for the general public (plus a $6 registration fee), and $73 for Wesleyan students. To register for Master Classes, or to purchase a Weekend Pass, please call or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office at 860-685-3355.