Tag Archive for dance department

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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Faculty, Staff Share Service- and Project-Based Learning Stories

#THISISWHY

On April 15, faculty and staff met to share their service- and project-based learning stories during an Academic (Technology) Roundtable lunch at the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life. A(T)R lunches are designed to promote conversation, cooperation and the sharing of information, ideas and resources among faculty members, librarians, graduate students and staff.

Barbara Juhasz, director of service-learning, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, led the session, providing an overview of service-learning at Wesleyan as well as the variety of ways that service can be used as a pedagogical tool. Other speakers included Rob Rosenthal, director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology; Peggy Carey-Best, Health Professions Partnership Initiative advisor; Cathy Lechowicz, director of the Center for Community Partnerships; Sara MacSorley, director of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center; Janet Burge, associate professor of computer science; Jim Donady, professor of biology, director of Health Professions Partnership Initiative; Anna Shusterman, associate professor of psychology; and Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance.

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Jim Donady discusses his ongoing service-learning work at Connecticut Valley Hospital. Left to right: Donady; Sara MacSorley, who shared how service-learning courses can interface with programs at Green Street; Janet Burge, who spoke about how project-based activities are incorporated into her service-learning course, Software Engineering; and Director of Service Learning Barbara Juhasz.

 

Alejandro, Alumnae Collaborate on Choreography Project

Pedro Alejandro

Pedro Alejandro

Pedro Alejandro, associate professor of dance, Brittany Delany ’09 and Sarah Ashkin ’11 are collaborating on a new choreography project in New Mexico.

The project titled “Chancy Dancing” will premier at 8 p.m. April 11 at the Railyard Performance Center in Santa Fe. Marcela Oteiza, assistant professor of theater, is developing the visual design of the work.

The first half of the performance features Ashkin and other local choreographers’ most recent works spanning a spectrum of modern dance, dance theater and improvisational systems.

Choreographer Otake Begins 3-Year Appointment with Seminar, Exhibition

Eiko Otake, visiting instructor in dance, performed "Body in a Station" at the Amtrack's 30th Street Station in Philadelphia on Oct. 8. Otake will speak on "Nakedness" Nov. 5 and participate in an exhibition titled "A Body in Fukushima," at Wesleyan starting in February 2015. (Photo by William Johnston)

Eiko Otake, visiting instructor in dance, performed “Body in a Station” at the Amtrack’s 30th Street Station in Philadelphia on Oct. 8. Otake will participate in an exhibition titled “A Body in Fukushima,” at Wesleyan starting in February 2015. (Photo by William Johnston)

Japanese-born choreographer/dancer Eiko Otake, visiting instructor in dance, recently accepted a three-year appointment in the Dance Department and College of East Asian Studies. Otake has a 13-year performance history at the Center for the Arts, which began with a three-hour performance of “Offering,” Eiko & Koma’s response to 9/11, in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Since then, Otake has visited campus many times as a Center for Creative Research Artist-in-Residence, and then as a Wesleyan University Creative Campus Fellow to teach, to offer workshops, to curate events, and to give lectures.

Eiko Otake. (Photo by Gregory Georges)

In the spring of 2015, Eiko Otake will teach an interdisciplinary seminar called “Delicious Movement: Time is Not Even, Space is Not Empty.” (Photo by Gregory Georges)

Since 1972, Otake has collaborated with Takashi Koma Otake in creating a unique theater of movement out of stillness, shape, light, sound, and time. Eiko & Koma have received two New York Dance and Performance Awards, or “Bessies,” as well as Guggenheim, MacArthur and United States Artists Fellowships.

Crimea, Tatar Rights Explored at Panel Discussion, Multimedia Performance

Wesleyan will present "To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars" Oct. 24. The event includes a panel discussion, faculty dance concert/multimedia presentation and reception.

Wesleyan will present “To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars” Oct. 24. The event includes a panel discussion, faculty dance concert/multimedia presentation and reception.

 

On Oct. 24, the Dance Department and Center for the Arts present “To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars,” a panel discussion and the Fall Faculty Dance Concert by Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio.

While international media and political leaders are ignoring the situation in Crimea, this event draws public attention to the widespread violation of the Tatars’ human rights and the degree to which the Russian Occupation has forced them out of their ancestral homeland.

The evening will begin with a free panel discussion, “Indigenous Ukrainian Perspectives of Crimea Post Russian-Invasion,” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Fayerweather Beckham Hall. The discussion will revolve around the current situation in Crimea, the quest for indigenous status by its Tatar population, and the movement for Tatar rights under Mustafa Jemilev, which through non-violence and interfaith collaboration offers an inspiring model for other oppressed peoples.

The event will be live streamed; see here for information and the live stream link.

Panelists will include Arsen Zhumadilov, founder and chairman of the Crimean Institute for Strategic Studies; Ayla Bakkalli, United States representative of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and Greta Uehling, lecturer at the University of Michigan’s Program in International and Comparative Studies, and author of Beyond Memory: The Crimean Tatars’ Deportation and Return.

Ishiguro to Study Female Saman Dance as Fulbright DDRA Fellow

Maho Ishiguro

Maho Ishiguro

Maho Ishiguro, an ethnomusicology doctoral student, received a Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship to study the female Saman dance in Indonesia. The award came with a $29,508 stipend.

Ishiguro’s proposed research title is “Saman Dance in Diaspora Presence of Female Saman Dance as Expressions of Piety Cultural Identity and Popular Culture.” Her DDRA project will examine the contemporary life of female Saman dance in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Banda Aceh.

Saman dance, or the dance of a “thousand hands” is typically performed in Gayo Lues, a mountainous region of Aceh, by eight to 20 male performers who kneel in a row and make different kinds of torso movements accompanied by songs, clapping hands, slapping chests or slapping the floor. The dance traditionally is performed to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad and has been used recently to promote Acehnese as well as Indonesia’s national culture.

“Indonesia’s deepening Islamization today impacts the nations’ performing arts and the conduct of Muslim women’s lives,” Ishiguro said. “In Aceh, despite its Islamic origin, female adults were prohibited from performing Saman dance at public events.

Dance Department Opens New Headquarters, Hosts Gala

Cheryl Cutler MA '71, founder of the Dance Department, served as department chair for 32 years. She spoke about the department's history and changes as part of the Dance Department's grand opening gala Feb. 28. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Cheryl Cutler MA ’71, founder of the Dance Department, served as department chair for 32 years. She spoke about the department’s history and changes as part of the Dance Department’s grand opening gala Feb. 28. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

The Dance Department now has a studio/office space of its own, having opened new digs in a converted church at 160 Cross Street Feb. 28 with a grand opening gala. Artist-in-residence, African dancer/drummer Iddi Saaka gave the inaugural performance at an intimate reception attended by dance majors and some early alumni from the program (which first took shape in the late ’60s and early ’70s as an extension of the Theater Department).

The newly renovated Dance Department building — constructed in 1978, was once home to the AME Zion Church.

The newly renovated Dance Department building, constructed in 1978, was once home to the AME Zion Church.

“We finally have our own space, our own building, our own entity,” said Hari Krishnan, assistant professor of dance. “Statistically, more than 40 percent of students at Wesleyan have taken a dance class during their time at Wesleyan. This has been the case for over 10 years and the figure is consistent across all three divisions. Now we can build on that. We can make it an integral part of life at Wesleyan. This building reaffirms that for us.”

The newly renovated building — constructed in 1978, once home to the AME Zion Church, and most recently, an archeology laboratory — will yield many benefits for the Wes dance community. Until now, faculty and students have been sharing offices and spaces in tight quarters, based inside the Center for the Arts. The Theater Department has taken over the former space. Now each faculty and resident has an office to him or herself and there’s adequate space to increase enrollment and continue expanding and evolving the program. Scheduling independence will allow for more performances and less hassle in the planning stages, Krishnan said.

Dance Department Moving to Cross Street in January

The former AME Zion Church on Cross Street is being remodeled this summer. Next January, it will house the Dance Department.

The former AME Zion Church on Cross Street is being remodeled this summer. The Dance Department will occupy the space in January 2014.

In January 2014, the Dance Department will move from its space in the Center for the Arts to a new studio and office space on Cross Street. This will allow Dance Department faculty and students to be closer to the Bessie Schönberg dance studio on Pine Street.

Construction at 160 Cross Street commenced July 9 with asbestos abatement and demolition of the interior finishes and walls. Interior framing begins Aug. 5. According to Alan Rubacha, director of Physical Plant, construction will be completed this fall.

Dance Department faculty and students are currently using two studios and other shared spaces. Some dance faculty are sharing offices due to the lack of space.

The new venue will house offices for all dance faculty. It will also create an opportunity for more dance performances since the studio will be equipped for lighting instruments, making it a suitable production space. With this multipurpose new space, the dance department will be more able to accommodate present and future student enrollment in dance classes, teaching and research of new dance technologies, and performances of student work, faculty directed concerts, and visiting artists and scholars.

The building, which neighbors Neon Deli and the Freeman Athletic Center, was constructed in 1978 by the AME Zion Church. The congregation has since moved to a new location on West Street. Wesleyan’s Cross Street Archeology Laboratory occupied the building’s basement for several years. On July 8, the lab relocated to a space inside the Physical Plant building on Long Lane.

The Theater Department will occupy the former CFA Dance Department space.