Tag Archive for dance department

West African Drumming, Dance Concert Honors Ghana’s Independence


The West African Drumming and Dance Concert was held May 12 in the Center for the Arts Green. The event featured master drummer and visiting artist in residence Attah Poku and choreographer and artist in residence Iddi Saaka, joined by their 72 students, guest artists and 16 student drummers. This annual performance showcases the vibrancy of West African cultures through music and dance forms.

On March 6, 2017, Ghana celebrated its 60th independence anniversary from British colonial rule. This spring’s West African Drumming and Dance concert was held in honor of the anniversary. Apart from the usual traditional dances, students also dressed as Ghanaian chiefs and queen mothers. In addition, a Wesleyan band performed live Ghanaian highlife music and a Ghanaian church based in Worcester, Mass. provided live choral music.

Following the performance, guests were treated to a reception with an assortment of Ghanaian dishes.

Photos of the performance are below. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

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Dance Department’s Krishnan ‘Slaughters’ Stereotypes

(photo c/o Michael Slobodian)

Hari Krishna (Photo by Michael Slobodian)

In the March 21 issue, the Toronto Star profiles Associate Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan in connection with his latest full-length work, “Holy Cow(s)!”

Krishnan discusses the ways in which he often endures “ridiculous if non-malevolent cultural prejudices,” such as assumptions that he practices yoga or doesn’t eat beef due to his Indian heritage.

Krishnan would prefer people to look beyond the stereotypes, beyond what he calls such false binaries as East/West, white/coloured, masculine/feminine, tradition/modernity.

Says Krishnan: “I’m brown. I’m a beef-eating Hindu from Singapore and I’m proudly gay. I’m not a tourism poster.”

Krishnan, an award-winning dancer/choreographer, is founder of the performing company inDANCE. The writer describes his style: “Krishnan’s dances, whether full-on Bharatanatyam — he’s won a coveted Bessie award in New York for his own performance of this Indian classical form — or a contemporary hybrid of styles is consistently exuberant, physically dynamic and often more than a little bit naughty.”

Of the latest performance, he writes:

Holy Cow(s)!, with a cast of two women and five men, is unusual in that while most of the choreography is Krishnan’s it also includes three solos, each made for him by an outside choreographer and expressing very different movement esthetics. The original intent was for Krishnan to perform these himself but a knee injury put paid to that. With the concurrence of American choreographers Sean Curry and David Brick and Vancouver’s Jay Hirabayashi, Krishnan has now distributed these among three of the cast’s men.

Watching a studio run-through of Holy Cow(s)!, it is clear Krishnan relishes the opportunity to explode any number of assumptions audiences might make about a choreographer of South Asian descent. The movement vocabulary at times references, even parodies, classical Indian dance but it also embraces a whole range of cultural forms. It pokes fun at the stereotypes of beguiling female and chest-thumping machismo. It is sensual to the point of overt eroticism. Krishnan even manages to work in some thinly veiled political criticism, alerting us to the dangerous bigotry that the current climate has unlocked.

Says Krishnan: “My mission is to slaughter every one of these holy cows.”

5 Classes Perform at Worlds of Dance Concert

The Worlds of Dance Concert, held Dec. 4 at Crowell Concert Hall, featured the works of five different dance courses in their semester-end culminating performance. Beginning and intermediate dance students performed works in various styles including Bharata Natyam (South Indian classical dance). The classes were taught by Pedro Alejandro, associate professor of dance; Susan Lourie, adjunct professor of dance; Hari Krishnan, associate professor of dance; and Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance.

(Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

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More than 90 Students Perform in West African Drumming and Dance Concert

The Center for the Arts hosted a West African Drumming and Dance Concert Dec. 2 at Crowell Concert Hall. The performance featured master drummer Emmanuel Attah Poku; choreographer and artist-in-residence Iddi Saaka; and more than 90 Wesleyan students. In addition, the Kiniwe African Dance Ensemble from Tufts University also performed at the concert. The event showcased the vibrancy of West African cultures through their music and dance forms. (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

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Kolcio, Stanton Create, Perform “Steppe Lands” as Freedom Dance Ukraine

Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio, left, and Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton, right, perform with Freedom Dance Ukraine this summer. The project was based on Kolcio's recent work in Ukraine. (Photo by Lucy Guiliano)

Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio, bottom left, and Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton, bottom right, perform with Freedom Dance Ukraine this summer. The project was based on Kolcio’s recent work in Ukraine. Other members of the ensemble: (above, left to right): Elvira Demerdzhy Julian Kytasty, Alina Kuzma.  (Photo by Lucy Guiliano)

A Connecticut dance event offered Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio an additional way to explore her ongoing dance/movement project highlighting the effect of political forces at work in Ukraine.

Last summer, Kolcio invited colleague and Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton to join with two other dancers, both with ties to Ukraine, to create a dance. This event, Dance for Peace, was sponsored by Artists for World Peace, an organization founded and led by Wendy Black-Nasta P’07, with music director Robert Nasta MA ’98, P’07.

Kolcio, who holds a doctorate in somatics, places the dance they created, “Steppe Land,” in the context of her project in Ukraine, where she has familial roots.

Master Drummer Adzenyah Celebrated at Ceremony, Hall Dedication

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, at right, congratulates Abraham Adzenyah for teaching at Wesleyan 46 years and for the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall). A ribbon cutting ceremony took place May 7.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, at right, congratulates Abraham Adzenyah for teaching at Wesleyan 46 years and for the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall). A ribbon cutting ceremony took place May 7.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, was honored with a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students (View photo set here). Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

Abraham Adzenyah speaks to the audience.

Abraham Adzenyah speaks to the audience.

During the event, Adzenyah was honored with the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall). This is the first time that a leading U.S. university has named a building after a traditional African musician. In addition, grateful students, alumni and friends have raised more than $225,000 to establish the Abraham Adzenyah Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship.

Stanton, Hoggard, Brown: ‘Storied Places’ Unites Dance, Music, Text of Collaborative Cluster

Professor of Dance and Department Chair Nicole Stanton notes that faculty dance concerts play a crucial role in academic life: "For many of us in the dance department, this is our creative research. This how we explore our ideas and passions and how we engage with the world and with critical, cultural, social and political themes."

Associate Professor Nicole Stanton notes that faculty dance concerts play a crucial role in academic life: “For many of us in the dance department, this is our creative research. This how we explore our ideas and passions and how we engage with the world and with critical, cultural, social and political themes.”

On the weekend of April 15-16, the CFA theater was home to the spring faculty dance concert, Storied Places. In addition to the dance, which was choreographed and directed by Chair and Associate Professor of Dance, Associate Professor of African American Studies, and Environmental Studies Nicole Stanton, the performance also featured original compositions and musical direction by Adjunct Professor of Music and African American Studies Jay Hoggard ’76. Adding a further layer of texture was narrative text, written and performed by Chair and Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of African American Studies, Professor of English and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Director of the Center for African American Studies Lois Brown.

Additionally, Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy L’Merchie Frazier created visual scenography and design—some based on the photographs that grace the cover of Hoggard’s new two-CD set, Harlem Hieroglyphs.

The collaboration, which featured a host of musicians and dancers—including Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Dante Brown ’09 and Rick Manayan ’17—had begun with Hoggard’s compositions, which were inspired under the theme of “Migrations”—as he thought specifically of the migration his own family had made from the rural South to a new home in Harlem, as well as more generally about the movement of peoples throughout history and how that was illustrated in music, particularly jazz.

Nicole Stanton recalls that she had reached out to Hoggard, at the suggestion of Pam Tatge ’84, MALS ’10, P’16, who was then director of the Center for the Arts.

“I enjoy very much the idea of collaboration and collaboration across disciplines,” Stanton explains. “I’m interested in dance and the total art form that engages a lot of different senses and a lot of different modes of expression.”

Kolcio, Students Attend Ukraine in Washington Forum

Students spoke with former Ambassador from Georgia Temuri Yakobashvili at the Ukraine in Washington forum. From left, James Reston '18, Misha Iakovenko '18 and Molly Jane Zuckerman '16.

Students spoke with former Ambassador from Georgia Temuri Yakobashvili at the Ukraine in Washington forum. From left, James Reston ’18, Misha Iakovenko ’18 and Molly Jane Zuckerman ’16.

Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies, and a group of students attended the Ukraine in Washington forum at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on March 30, where Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivered the keynote address. Poroshenko was in Washington for President Barack Obama’s Nuclear Summit.

The trip was funded by the Dean of Social Sciences and the Dean of Arts and Humanities. According to Kolcio, the highlight of the trip occurred when Poroshenko responded to a question posed by Misha Iakovenko ’18 about the president’s efforts to deal with corruption, and a recent article that appeared in the Kyiv Post by gas company CEO and anti-corruption advocate Oleg Prokhorenko. The group also heard panels on Humanitarian Crisis, Economic Reform, and Political Context: Budapest to Minsk Agreements.

Faculty Teach Dance, Creative Movements to Local Children

Two visiting faculty members from Wesleyan visited the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center in March to teach AfterSchool Program children about dance.

Wesleyan Scholar-in-Residence Allison Orr conducted a dance workshop for the children in the AfterSchool program at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center on March 7

Allison Orr, the Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment, conducted a dance workshop on March 7.

Support Wesleyan Researchers in Crowdfunding Pilot

Four Wesleyan academic departments, from psychology to dance to chemistry to biology, are competing for grant funds through a new crowdfunding site specifically designed for research project fundraising.

experimentExperiment.com’s Challenge Grant for Liberal Arts Colleges asked scientists to define a scientific research question for the crowd with a prize for the project with the most backers. The pilot launched on Feb. 24 and concludes March 25.During this 31-day period, the goal is to reach $4,000 in funding. If so, the team is granted the money. If not, they receive nothing and no one’s pledges are charged. By backing a project, participants will receive updates, results and data from project creators.

Wesleyan research include how the brain prevents risky-decision making/addiction; the effects of using artificial sweeteners; controlling seizures with light; and the effectiveness of somatic mind-body practices on victims of the war.

On Wednesday, March 16 at 11:59 p.m., Experiment will award the project with the most backers $2,000 directly through their project page.

Wesleyan’s projects include:

Adzenyah, Saaka Teach West African Dance, Drumming

On Nov. 7, Adjunct Professor of Music Abraham Adzenyah and Artist in Residence Iddi Saaka taught a joint Homecoming/Family Weekend workshop for students, families and friends on Ghanian drumming and dance. Participants performed in Crowell Concert Hall with alumni accompanying on drums. Current Wesleyan students also performed. The event was one of three held that day in honor of Adzenyah’s 46 years at Wesleyan. Wesleyan is working to raise $300,000 to establish an Abraham Adzenyah Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship after his retirement. Find more information or make a donation here. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Participants in the West African Drumming and Dance workshop performed in Crowell Concert Hall on Nov. 7, with retiring Adjunct Professor of Music Abraham Adzenyah and alumni accompanying on drums. Current Wesleyan students also performed. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Participants in the West African Drumming and Dance workshop performed in Crowell Concert Hall on Nov. 7, with retiring Adjunct Professor of Music Abraham Adzenyah and alumni accompanying on drums. Current Wesleyan students also performed. (Photo by John Van Vlack)