650 First-Year Students Gather for CFA’s Common Moment

About 650 students from Wesleyan's First Year Matters Program participated in the Common Moment Sept. 4. The theme was "Feet to the Fire: Feast or Famine."

The community-building event was produced by the Center for the Arts and led by Barry Chernoff, chair of the Environmental Studies Program, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, director of the College of the Environment and professor of biology, and Nicole Stanton, chair and associate professor of dance (pictured).

The idea behind the Common Moment is to have students have a participatory arts experience around the annual sustainability theme, thereby engaging them artistically as well as introducing them to the arts at Wesleyan.

Many cultures have traditional music and dance that celebrate the preciousness of food and the harvest. The event began with all students doing a warm-up led by Stanton, where they learned a dance from Senegal. Then they were divided into two groups. One group learned a traditional dance from Japan supported by a Taiko ensemble led by music department instructor, Mark Rooney; the other group learned a dance from Ghana led by Dance Department Artist in Residence Iddi Saaka. Each group then performed for the other.

Students dance inside the Freeman Athletic Center.

Chernoff later gathered the students below a baseline drawn by a string of wishties they had created with their R.A.s. On one side of the wishtie they had written their wishes for themselves for their four years at Wesleyan. On the other side they had written their wishes for the earth. Chernoff cut the line and they danced into the graph. The class had voted on what they believe to be the best way to increase food security in the world. Two triangles and a circle represented their answers...the greatest number of votes went to working “to eliminate poverty worldwide, thereby providing purchasing power for more people to escape hunger and malnutrition,” represented by the circle.

More information on Feet to the Fire is online here. (Photos by Nick Lacy)