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.)
Tag Archive for dance department
by Laurie Kenney •
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)
by Laurie Kenney •
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.
by Olivia Drake •
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.
by Olivia Drake •
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.
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.
by Olivia Drake •
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.
by Olivia Drake •
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.
by Mike Sembos •
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).
“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.
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.
by Olivia Drake •
Students enrolled in the “Improvisational Forms” dance course performed May 6 and May 8 at various locations, and on various objects, around campus. The class is designed to explore different approaches to dance improvisation. Students learn to expand movement vocabulary, increase compositional awareness, develop their creative thinking and observational skills, and sharpen their performance presence. The class is taught by Susan Lourie, adjunct professor of dance. (Photos by Olivia Drake)
by Lauren Rubenstein •
In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we ask “5 Questions” of Urip Maeny, artist in residence in dance. She she has taught at Wesleyan since 1972, and will retire this year.
Q: Please tell us when and how you first began studying Javanese dance.
A: I began studying Javanese dance informally when I was still in elementary school in my hometown of Pekalongan in Central Java, Indonesia in the early 1960s. In 1961, I studied at the gamelan conservatory (high school level) in Surakarta. The school allowed me to focus my study on dance—especially Javanese dance, but also Balinese and Sudanese dance. After graduating, I taught dance at the conservatory for a couple of years. As both a student and faculty member at the conservatory, I danced in many cities in Java and Bali. Once, I performed the most sacred Javanese dance in the court of Surakarta.
Then, in 1968, I moved to Jakarta, and worked at the Cultural Office there. My assignment included teaching at the Presidential Palace, especially to the children of the President. I was also a member of a performing arts group, which performed abroad in Hong Kong, Australia and the Middle East.
Q: How did you end up coming to the U.S., and teaching at Wesleyan?
A: In 1971, I joined my husband, Sumarsam, who at that time was working and teaching gamelan at the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, Australia. In 1972, Wesleyan invited Sumarsam to teach gamelan, so we both departed Australia for Wesleyan. Soon after arriving at Wesleyan, the Wesleyan Music Department assigned me to assist my husband, teaching Javanese dance. I taught Javanese dance as part of the World Music Program until I was transferred to the Dance Department in the mid-1980s. I continue to teach a course in Javanese dance, and closely collaborate with the gamelan group in the Music Department. I direct Javanese dance and dance drama on and off campus, including a Javanese dance drama and gamelan performance at Lincoln Center in New York. While in residence at Wesleyan, I have performed in many cities in the U.S. and abroad. I have also briefly taught Javanese dance at Cornell and at Smith College.
Q: What has kept you at Wesleyan for 40 years?
A: Teaching Javanese dance to American students is a challenge, especially when you teach it by yourself. Javanese dance requires highly controlled movements of different parts of your body to be synchronized with musical rhythms. (See more photos of Maeny ‘s class online here. Watch a video of Maeny teaching Javanese Dance at Wesleyan online here.)
by Olivia Drake •
Join students enrolled in West African Drumming and West African Dance courses for an invigorating performance filled with the rhythms of West Africa. Choreographer Iddi Saaka and Master Drummer Abraham Adzenyah will perform with their students in a West African Drumming and Dance performance at 3 p.m. May 10 in the Center for the Arts courtyard. The rain site is Crowell Concert Hall. Free!
Pictured below are photos of their practice on April 17: