Tag Archive for dance department

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)

Collaborative Cluster Provides Perspectives in Dance, Music, English, African American Studies

Faculty Jay Hoggard, Lois Brown,  Nicole Stanton, and L’Merchie Frazier are teaching the new Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar.

Faculty Jay Hoggard, Lois Brown, Nicole Stanton, and L’Merchie Frazier are teaching the new Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar. The cluster enables faculty to develop a shared research project with a unifying theme. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
This year, four Wesleyan faculty are coordinating a year-long interdisciplinary project that enables students from an array of majors and academic disciplines to collaborate, create and work together as a learning community under the theme “Renaissance Projects: Reclaiming Memory, Movement and Migration.”

The Collaborative Clusters Initiative of the Allbritton Center enables faculty from a variety of departments and programs to develop a shared research project with a unifying theme. Cluster courses in 2015-16 provide perspectives from dance, music, English, and African American studies on the ways performance practices have engaged the past and present in the face of great migrations. The collaborative project is rooted in a multi-faceted conception of renaissance, and explores states of past and present, of vitality and decay, and of presence and absence.

Students, in collaboration with peers, faculty and visiting artist/scholars, develop original research in writing, performance or visual art around the cluster theme.

This year, faculty members Nicole Stanton, Jay Hoggard, Lois Brown,  and L’Merchie Frazier are teaching courses in the Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar.

Bria Grant ’17, an African American studies and dance double major, was ecstatic to take classes in the new cluster because it addressed both her interest in the arts and black people in America in one initiative. She’s enrolled in Stanton’s and Hoggard’s class this fall.

“The discussions we have each week, coupled with the nurturing aspect of breaking bread and eating dinner together, create a familial and intellectual space that both comforts and stimulates my mind simultaneously,” Grant said. “Furthermore, the research seminar itself gives me the space to immerse myself within the subject matter in a way I personally see fit, and explore specific aspects without the heavy burden of a strict curriculum.”

Kolcio Attends White House Event, Presents Research in Ukraine

Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, writes about the role dance organizations played in developing dance as an academic discipline in her new book. Ph.D programs in dance, for example, were not available in the 1950s and 60s. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Katja Kolcio

Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies, was invited to attend White House Ethnic Day on June 2. The event brought together about 160 leaders from various ethnic communities for a discussion on immigration reform and foreign policy. The foreign policy discussion dealt predominantly with Ukraine, Kolcio’s area of interest.

The event was attended by White House representatives including Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama; Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Foreign Domestic Council; Felicia Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy; Manar Waheed, deputy director for immigration policy; Michael Carpenter, special advisor to the vice president for Europe and Eurasia; and Celeste Wallander, special assistant to the president and senior director, Russia and Central Asia, National Security Council.

The discussion was preceded by a reception on Capitol Hill on June 1 with members of Congress.

In June and July, Kolcio will travel to Ukraine to present her research on somatic theory—which is premised on body-mind integration—and lead workshops in somatic practice geared toward the issues of displacement and PTSD. She has been invited by three different non-profit groups of mental health professionals and specialists in PTSD, a combination of psychiatrists, therapists, social workers and clergy, who assembled to address the increasing incidence of trauma and displacement due to the unexpected Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea and subsequent fighting on the border between Ukaine and Russia.

Learn more about Kolcio in this video.

7 Faculty Promoted, 1 Awarded Tenure

In its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on Hari Krishnan, associate professor of dance. He joins seven other faculty members who were awarded tenure earlier this spring.

In addition, seven faculty members were promoted to Full Professor: Mary Alice Haddad, professor of government; Scott Higgins, professor of film studies; Tsampikos Kottos, professor of physics; Edward Moran, professor of astronomy; Dana Royer, professor of earth and environmental sciences; Mary-Jane Rubenstein, professor of religion; and Gina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology.

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below.

Associate Professor Krishnan teaches studio- and lecture-based dance courses on Mobilizing Dance: Cinema, the Body, and Culture in South Asia; Modern Dance 3; and Bharata Natyam.  His academic and choreographic interests include queering the dancing body, critical readings of Indian dance and the history of courtesan dance traditions in South India. He is a scholar and master of historical Bharatanatyam and also an internationally acclaimed choreographer of contemporary dance from global perspectives.

Professor Haddad teaches courses about comparative, East Asian, and environmental politics. She has authored two books, Building Democracy in Japan and Politics and Volunteering in Japan: A Global Perspective, and co-edited a third, NIMBY is Beautiful: Local Activism and Environmental Innovation in Germany and Beyond. She is currently working on a book about effective advocacy and East Asian environmental politics.

Professor Higgins teaches courses in film history, theory, and genre, and is a 2011 recipient of Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching.  His research interests include moving-image aesthetics, feature and serial storytelling, and cinema’s technological history. He is author of Harnessing the Rainbow: Technicolor Aesthetics in the 1930s and Matinee Melodrama: Playing with Formula in the Sound Serial (forthcoming), and editor of Arnheim for Film and Media Studies.

Professor Kottos offers courses on Quantum Mechanics; Condensed Matter Physics; and Advanced Topics in Theoretical Physics. He has published more than 100 papers on the understanding of wave propagation in complex media, which have received more than 3,000 citations. His current research focuses on the development of non-Hermitian Optics. This year, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research has recognized his theoretical proposal on optical limiters as a high priority strategic goal of the agency.

Professor Moran teaches introductory courses such as Descriptive Astronomy and The Dark Side of the Universe, in addition to courses on observational and extragalactic astronomy.  His research focuses on extragalactic X-ray sources and the X-ray background, and his expertise in spectroscopic instrumentation combined with an insightful conceptual appreciation of galaxy formation have positioned him as a leader in observational black hole research.

Professor Royer offers courses on Environmental Studies; Geobiology; and Soils.  His research explores how plants can be used to reconstruct ancient environments, and the (paleo-) physiological underpinnings behind these plant-environment relationships.  His recent work on the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and climate over geologic time has had significant impact on the field of paleoclimatology.

Professor Rubenstein teaches courses in philosophy of religion; pre- and postmodern theologies; and the intersections of religion, sex, gender, and science.  Her research interests include continental philosophy, theology, gender and sexuality studies, and the history and philosophy of cosmology.  She is the author of Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe, and Worlds without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse.

Professor Ulysse offers courses on Crafting Ethnography; Haiti: Between Anthropology and Journalism; Key Issues in Black Feminism; and Theory 2: Beyond Me, Me, Me: Reflexive Anthropology. Her research examines black diasporic conditions. Her recent work combines scholarship, performance, and exposition to ponder the fate of Haiti in the modern world and how it is narrated in different outlets and genres.  She is the author of Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, A Haitian Anthropologist and Self-Making in Jamaica, and Why Haiti Needs New Narratives.

West African Rhythms Fill CFA Courtyard

On May 8, members of the Wesleyan community gathered in the CFA Courtyard for an invigorating performance filled with the rhythms of West Africa. Performing were choreographer Iddi Saaka, artist in residence in the dance department, and master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, together with their students in three levels of West African dance courses, plus guest artists. After almost five decades at Wesleyan, Adzenyah will retire in May 2016. To honor his cultural contributions and to recognize his rich professorial and performing legacy, alumni, students, colleagues, and friends are hoping to “drum up” enough support to raise $300,000 for an endowed scholarship in his name. (Photos by Laurie Kenney.)

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Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah (center, with hat) and choreographer Iddi Saaka (directly behind Adzenyah) led their students in a West African drumming and dance performance in the CFA Courtyard on May 8.

Students Spread Dance across Campus

On May 4, students from the Improvisational Forms dance class performed at various locations around campus, including inside and outside Schonberg Dance Studio, Exley Science Center and Olin Memorial Library.

Students in the movement-based class study improvisation from a number of perspectives. Improvising in so many different environments challenges the dancers’ ability to focus while exploring the “score” (prompts/rules) they have pre-set for each specific site, continuously relating to each other and to the unique architecture and nature of each space. The class is taught by Susan Lourie, adjunct professor of dance. (Photos by Laurie Kenney)

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