Randi Plake

Randi Plake works for the Office of University Communications at Wesleyan University.

Saaka Premieres Duet Choreography Work at Spring Faculty Dance Concert

shake-event

Artist in Residence Iddi Saaka will perform a dance duet featuring Rachel Boggia, associate professor of dance at Bates College for the Spring Faculty Dance Concert on May 5-6.

Over two nights in May, Wesleyan Dance Department Artist in Residence Iddi Saaka will premiere Shake, a dance duet featuring Rachel Boggia, associate professor of dance at Bates College.

According to Saaka, Shake is a rambunctious and tender duet born out of a nine-year friendship between himself and Boggia. Their first choreographed work features their shared love of vibratory movement, smooth breath, and cheesy humor. Influences include Ghanaian dance forms, American postmodern dance, fake tap dance, bad jokes, and life experiences.

This unique performance combines the elements of two distinct dance styles. Saaka, who teaches West African dance and directs the West African drumming and dance concert that is held in the fall and spring semesters at Wesleyan, explained, “The audience can expect to see two people from two different dance backgrounds—Ghanaian and American postmodern— express their friendship through movement and humor.”

The performance will take place in the CFA Theater on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets, which are $6 for Wesleyan students and youth under 18, and $8 for all others, are available at the Wesleyan Box Office.

16th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend to Feature a “Day of Percussion”

The 16th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Weekend is on April 28-29, 2017.

The 16th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend is on April 28-29.

At the end of April, Wesleyan University’s concert halls will be filled with the sound of rhythm during the 16th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend, on Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29. The weekend will kick off with the traditional performance by the Wesleyan University Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Ensembles on Friday evening. New this year, on Saturday, there will be percussion clinics hosted by the Connecticut Percussive Arts Society, followed by an evening concert by Eli Fountain’s Percussion Discussion.

Jay Hoggard, professor of music and African American studies, explained the idea behind this ambitious project. “For the first time ever, we’re combining the Wesleyan student ensembles and the Connecticut Percussive Arts Society program,” he said. “We thought that would be an interesting combination, but instead of doing it over a series of multiple weekends, as we have done in the past, it’s going to be one day with multiple performances, about 20 minutes each.”

Hayat ’13 Discusses High-End Shoe Line, Liudmila Footwear

Najeeba Hayat '13

Najeeba Hayat ’13 is the founder, designer, and CEO of Liudmila Footwear.

Najeeba Hayat ’13, entrepreneur and designer, is gaining attention in the fashion industry for her designer shoe company, Liudmila Footwear, most recently in Voguewhich hailed her shoes as “stunning” and “fantastical.”

Produced in Italy, Liudmila shoes are designed with Victorian influences in mind. Hayat’s shoes are also praised for being comfortable to walk in, disregarding the cultural norm that women should suffer for fashion.

Hayat, who is originally from Kuwait, was a government major at Wesleyan, but found herself dreaming of designing shoes. In an interview with the Wesleyan Connection, Hayat said, “The Russian literature classes I took at Wesleyan were actually the biggest influence on my decision to follow my passion for design instead of pursuing a career related to my major.”

She credits the classes she took with Susanne Fusso, professor of Russian language and literature, for cultivating her love for the “unique, bizarre, striking characters of Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Chekov, and Sologub.”

Liudmila Shoe Drury Lane

Liudmila shoe from the new spring line

“One day, about a month or so before I graduated, we were discussing a speech given by a character in The Petty Demon that struck me by its passion, simplicity and its exact mirroring of my own sentiments,” she explained. “It was an exasperated paean to life and pleasure that in an instant turned me away from the career in consulting that I was actively pursuing at the time. I immediately decided to jump ship and move to Milan to study footwear.”

The Petty Demon is where Hayat found the inspiration to name her new company. Liudmila is one of the central sisters in the book. “As I was naming my brand, I went through many names, but was unsatisfied with all of them,” she said. “Liudmila’s speech kept coming back to me as my primary inspiration and so I decided to name the brand Liudmila in homage.”

Though her career took a different turn from the degree she earned, Hayat believes her liberal arts education prepared her for her role as founder, designer, and CEO. She said, “Even though the field I pursued had nothing to do with what I studied, all of the skills in analysis, problem-solving, and out of the box thinking that I developed at Wesleyan were crucial to my early success.”

Playwright Emily Mann in Conversation with Quiara Alegría Hudes

Emily Mann

Director and playwright Emily Mann will give a talk at Wesleyan on March 28.

Director and playwright Emily Mann will give a talk at Wesleyan on March 28 as part of the Performing Arts Series of the Center for the Arts. Mann will be in conversation with Wesleyan’s Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater Quiara Alegría Hudes.

“Emily Mann is a revered theatrical auteur,” said Hudes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who teaches playwriting to beginning and advanced writers at Wesleyan. “An accomplished playwright, director, and artistic director of a leading regional theater, Mann is known for her probing inquiry into our nation’s most urgent issues. Her art has time and again advanced the national conversation.”

Hudes believes those in attendance will benefit from hearing Mann’s views on the arts. Hudes explained, “The audience can expect to hear from a pioneer and trailblazer about what it means to have a vision, how to build and sustain an artistic vision over decades, and how word meets flesh at the intersection of the script and stage.”

“I am honored to be joining Quiara Alegría Hudes at Wesleyan for what will no doubt be an exciting day, both in our class workshop and our public conversation in the evening,” said Mann. “I am very much looking forward to an engaging talk with Quiara, discussing a wide range of topics including the state of the American theater, the American playwright, and opening doors to a whole new generation of voices.”

Known for her politically edgy and documentary style, Mann is currently in her 27th season as artistic director and resident playwright of the Tony Award-winning McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J. In 2015, she received both the  Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwrights’ Award, and the Margo Jones Award, given to a “citizen of the theater who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theater everywhere.”

A Conversation with Emily Mann will take place in Memorial Chapel at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 28 and is free and open to the public.

Wesleyan Joins the Northeast Small College Art Museum Association in Statement in Support of Major Arts Agencies

With the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), one representative of the arts community at Wesleyan has petitioned against these cuts alongside the Northeast Small College Art Museum Association (NESCAMA).

Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center at Wesleyan University, joined the initiative on behalf of Wesleyan.

In 2014, the Davison Art Center was the recipient of a three-year IMLS grant in the amount of $111,000 to further the digital imaging of works on paper in the art center’s permanent collection.

Rogan explained, “The Institute of Museum and Library Services has been transformative in the ways people can study the Davison Art Center’s internationally renowned collection. The ability for anyone on campus, or even on the other side of the world, to download high quality images and study these rare works of art is something that can’t be accomplished without this kind of funding.”

The statement, signed by 18 institutions affiliated with NESCAMA, explains how college art museums rely on funding from these sources.

With small operational budgets, college and university art museums are particularly reliant on funding from the NEH, NEA, and IMLS. This funding preserves artistic, ethnographic, scientific, and historic collections, and creates access to cultural heritage unique to our respective diverse communities. This funding not only supports essential infrastructure, it enables us to pursue transformative programs that provide employment for emerging and young professionals. This funding ensures that our collections are interpreted, understood, and valued.

The statement encourages members of Congress “to recognize that the resilience of the NEH, NEA, and IMLS, despite opposition over the years, is a testament to their enduring value.”

CFA Performing Arts Series Concert to Feature Italian Baroque Chamber Music

Photo by Andy Kahl

Tempesta di Mare will perform on March 31, concluding the 2016-2017 season of the Center for the Arts’ Performing Arts Series. (Photo by Andy Kahl)

Members of the Philadelphia-based ensemble Tempesta di Mare will perform baroque chamber music from Venice and Naples on period instruments for the Connecticut premiere of A Tale of Two Italian Cities in Crowell Concert Hall at 8 p.m., Friday, March 31.

This performance by Tempesta di Mare is part of the Performing Arts Series at the Center for the Arts, and the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season.

“These performances feature a wide array of world-class musicians, cutting-edge choreography, and groundbreaking theater,” explained Sarah Curran, director of the Center for the Arts. “We’re excited to include a baroque chamber orchestra this year and we think the audience will love experiencing the sounds and culture of Italy.”

The audience can expect to hear music that reflects the two cities’ different cultures, explained Richard Stone, co-director of Tempesta di Mare. “Venice was Italy’s party town, while Naples was where you’d go to university or, if you were a musician, to conservatory,” said Stone. “Neapolitan music grabs its listeners with a heady intensity, while the Venetian music catches you with technical brilliance. That’s the generalization though. Naples’ music could get pretty wild, and Venetian music can get pretty cerebral. They’re both great musical worlds to dive into.”

Celebrating their 15th anniversary season, the members of the ensemble performing at Wesleyan will play recorder, violin, cello, lute and harpsichord on trios, quartets and concerti written by Antonio Vivaldi, Alessandro Scarlatti, Dario Castello, Andrea Falconieri, Francesco Mancini and Giovanni Legrenzi.

Tickets can be purchased through the Wesleyan University Box Office. Tickets are $28 for the general public; $26 for senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, and non-Wesleyan students; and $6 for Wesleyan students and youth under 18.

Fry to Be Honored at Electrochemical Symposium in May

Albert J. Fry will be honored at a symposium for the Electrochemical Society.

Albert Fry will be honored at a symposium for the Electrochemical Society.

Albert Fry, the E.B. Nye Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, will be honored at the Electrochemical Society National Meeting in New Orleans in May.

The symposium, aptly titled, “The 80th Birthday Trifecta in Organic Electrochemistry,” celebrates Fry, and his two colleagues, Professor Jean Lessard of Sherbrooke University and Professor Denis Peters of Indiana University, who will all be celebrating their 80th birthdays.

“Besides having carried on research in organic electrochemistry for many years, each of us has served as chair of the organic and biological electrochemistry division of the Society, and Peters and I received the Baizer Award in organic electrochemistry,” explained Fry. “Although I retired in January, I’m still carrying computational research in electrochemistry and will present a lecture on recent results of this computational work at the New Orleans meeting.”

Morgan Appointed Honorary Professor at Queen’s University

Foss Professor of Physics Thomas J. Morgan

Tom Morgan

Foss Professor of Physics Thomas Morgan has been appointed as honorary professor at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He will hold this title for the next three years.

Morgan was recognized for this honor for his broad research contributions to the fields of atomic and molecular physics and plasma physics. He has published over 90 research papers, including many with international collaborators from Germany, France, Mexico and Japan.

Morgan will continue his research work at Wesleyan on highly excited states of diatomic molecules, and, as an honorary professor title holder, he will have access to Queen’s University’s resources for his research in the area of low temperature plasma physics. The appointment provides him an opportunity to concentrate on specific research projects in this area with collaborators at Queen’s University.

Architecture Firm, Owned by Rich ’02, Praised for Innovative Design

Nathan Rich '02, contributed photo

Nathan Rich ’02

Architects Newspaper praised Nathan Rich ’02 and his firm, Peterson Rich Office (PRO) for the design of a new gallery-residential building at 282 Grand Street in New York City.

The building, which is located in the Lower East Side, covers 20,000 square feet and will house 20 condos, climbing to 80 feet. Aside from the two penthouses at the top level, the rest of the dwellings are 550 square-foot one-bedroom condos. The gallery space is larger than most galleries in the area, spanning 45 feet wide.

Each space is highly efficient and the building features an innovative perforated aluminum rain-screen façade, which doubles as a shading device and a panel for air exchange.

Rich and his firm were commended for keeping the design true to the area’s history. In an interview with The Wesleyan Connection, Rich said, “We love working on the Lower East Side. It’s the most dynamic residential neighborhood in New York City, and there is a deep history stored in every block. Our design draws from this history to create a contemporary and forward-thinking building that feels rooted in its site.”

Additionally, PRO has connections to Wesleyan. Rich explained, “Our first project as an office was to design a painting studio for Tula Telfair [professor of art] in Lyme, Conn. “My wife and business partner, Miriam Peterson, managed construction on the job while teaching in the Wesleyan architecture studio.”

The project will break ground on 228 Grand Street this spring and is scheduled to be finished in fall 2018.

Creative Campus Fellow’s Performance Explores Personal Communication

Pamela Z will perform in Ring Family Hall on March 9, 2017.

Pamela Z will perform in Ring Family Performing Arts Hall on March 9.

Wesleyan’s 2016-2017 Creative Campus Fellow in Music Pamela Z, a composer and performer, is performing Correspondence, a work in progress, tonight (March 9). Her ensemble performance includes voices, electronic processing, sampled speech sounds, gesture-controlled MIDI instruments, projected image, and an array of mechanical and digital communication gadgetry.

Ms. Z’s performance looks at the history of personal communication from hand-written letters and telegraphs to electronic messaging and video chats in Correspondence, a sonic and visual exploration of the ever-evolving modes of personal communication.

More than 20 students are involved in the performance as members of the chorus, playing viola, bassoon, percussion, and operating typewriters.

As a Creative Campus Fellow, Ms. Z is commissioned by Wesleyan to create new works in collaboration with faculty and students across disciplines and conducts substantive research on campus for creative development. The Creative Campus Fellowship is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The performance is free and open to the public, and will take place on Thursday, March 9 at 8pm in the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall.

Ms. Z is a composer/performer and media artist who makes solo works combining a wide range of vocal techniques with electronic processing, samples, gesture activated MIDI controllers, and video. She has toured extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Her work has been presented at venues and exhibitions including Bang on a Can (New York), the Japan Interlink Festival, Other Minds (San Francisco), the Venice Biennale, and the Dakar Biennale. She’s created installations and has composed scores for dance, film, and chamber ensembles. Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Doris Duke Artist Impact Award, Creative Capital, the Herb Alpert Award, MAP, the ASCAP Award, an Ars Electronica honorable mention, the NEA/Japan-US Fellowship, and a Djerrassi Resident Artist Program residency.

STEM Zone 42 Learning Hub Opens in Science Library

A new teaching and learning space can be found on campus: STEM Zone 42.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Zone 42, located in the Science Library, is a collaborative project by the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the WesMaSS program and Academic Affairs.

Operating as a pilot program this semester, STEM Zone 42 is a space where students currently taking introductory biology and chemistry courses can receive academic support. Students can get help from course teaching assistants, course instructors, peer mentors and fellow students.

“We are hoping to reduce barriers students experience in seeking academic help and create and foster a STEM community at Wesleyan, in which we work together towards academic success,” explained Teshia Levy-Grant, interim dean for equity and inclusion. “By providing this academic resource to all students, we aim to improve student performance and increase overall retention in the sciences and math.”

Levy-Grant and her team hope to see STEM Zone 42 become a central location for student services, and double as a place where they can work, study and learn together. “This will be more of a one-stop model,” said Levy-Grant. “We now have the Career Center doing drop in hours in the space where students can learn about opportunities for summer internships and programs, but also get help with their resumes.”

And where does the number 42 come from? Levy-Grant explained, “The reference to 42 is inspired by Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s the ‘Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,’ calculated by a supercomputer, Deep Thought, over a period of 7.5 million years.”

STEM Zone 42 operates on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 p.m., Saturdays at 3-5 p.m., and Sundays from 7-9 p.m.

Photos of STEM Zone’s opening are below:

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Weinstein ’17, Scruggs ’17 to Join Teach For America Following Graduation

Michael Weinstein ’17 will head to Milwaukee, Wis. to teach.

Michael Weinstein ’17 will head to Milwaukee, Wis. to teach.

Two members of the Class of 2017 and the Wesleyan athletic community have committed to join Teach For America after graduation: Michael Weinstein ’17 of Brookline, Mass. and Katie Scruggs ’17 of Vail, Colo. Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity.

Weinstein, who is the captain for both the men’s rugby team and ski team, will teach middle school special education in Milwaukee, Wis. This will be his first experience living in the Midwest.

“I think Wesleyan, as opposed to any other liberal arts school, put me into contact with a lot of people who are really smart and conscientious,” Weinstein said, reflecting on how Wesleyan is preparing him for this experience. “They care about each other and about injustices in America. Any liberal arts school can provide a ‘well-rounded’ education, but Wesleyan students generally try to apply what they learn to real life issue. Hopefully I can do the same!”

teach-for-americaScruggs, who is a member of the women’s cross country team, will teach high school science in Boston.

According to Teach for America, more than 16 million children are growing up in poverty in the U.S. By eighth grade, they are nearly three years behind higher-income peers in reading and math and are 1/10th as likely to graduate from college as students from affluent communities.

Teach For America seeks to combat this problem by enlisting promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.