Tag Archive for dance

Krishnan’s Dance Performance Praised in Canadian Media

Artist-in-Residence Hari Krishnan, pictured in back, performs "Fallen Rain."

Hari Krishnan, artist-in-residence in dance, received widespread media attention for his dance company’s performance season in Canada. Positive reviews and articles appeared in the Toronto StandardToronto.comXtra!To Live With CultureMooney on Theatreand Fab Magazine.

In other exciting news, Krishnan’s dance company, inDANCE, was invited to present “Quicksand” and a new solo (commissioned for Jacob’s Pillow) at the Canada Dance Festival, the country’s most prestigious contemporary dance festival, on June 11.

Schwartz MALS ’77 Co-Writes Life of Dancer Pearl Primus

Peggy MALS '77 and Murray Schwartz (Photo by Stan Sherer)

In The Dance Claimed Me (Yale University Press), Peggy MALS ’77 and Murray Schwartz provide an intimate perspective on the life of Pearl Primus (1919–1994) who made her mark on the dance scene in 1943 with impressive works incorporating social and racial protest into their dance aesthetic. Friends and colleagues of the dancer, the authors explore her influences on American culture, dance, and education. 

The Schwartzes trace Primus’s journey from her childhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad, through her rise as an influential international dancer, an early member of the New Dance Group (whose motto was “Dance is a weapon”), and a pioneer in dance anthropology. They interviewed more than 100 of the artist’s family members, friends, and fellow artists, and others.

Primus traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, Israel, the Caribbean, and Africa, and she played a significant role in presenting authentic African dance to American audiences. She was celebrated by dance critics and contemporaries such as Langston Hughes. But she found controversy in both her private and professional lives, marrying a white Jewish man during a time of segregation and challenging black intellectuals who opposed the “primitive” in her choreography. Her political protests and mixed-race tours in the South triggered an FBI investigation.

Peggy Schwartz is professor of dance and former director of the Dance Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Murray Schwartz is former dean of humanities and fine arts at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He teaches literature at Emerson College.

For an interview with the authors, click here.

Krishnan’s Dance Troupe Presents Canadian Premiere

Artist-in-Residence Hari Krishnan, pictured in back, performs "Fallen Rain."

Artist-in-Residence Hari Krishnan’s dance company inDANCE presented the Canadian premiere of Fallen Rain Oct. 1-2 at the Robert Gill Theatre in Toronto, Canada. The dance troupe performs Indian classical dance style bharatanatyam with Western contemporary eroticism.

Under the artistic direction of Krishnan, inDANCE performed the 60-minute premiere as part of the Festival of South Asian Literature and the Arts and the University of Toronto’s The Centre for South Asian Studies. Initially choreographed as a series of solos and duets, the Canadian premiere of Fallen Rain features seven lyrical dancers and six musicians. It includes rare genres of dance that have never been presented on the Canadian stage.

Hari Krishnan in Fallen Rain.

“Fallen Rain animates by the poetic and kinetic world of dance in courtesan communities,” Krishnan explains. The repertoire, he says, is drawn largely from 19th-century Tanjavur, South India. Tanjavur is historically the royal city of South India, nurturing the arts, and is the birth place of bharatanatyam dance.

Krishnan teaches similar rare repertoires at Wesleyan, maintaining his two decades-long research of the traditional roots of Bharatanatyam dance.

“Bharatanatyam  is rarely taught and performed anywhere else in the world,” he says.

In Fallen Rain, inDANCE pushes the boundaries of professionalism in the areas of traditional bharatanatyam dance, inspiring live music, groundbreaking research, cutting edge lighting design and rich costume design. The group presents its classical work in the context of a contemporary aesthetic framework.

Dewey Dell Ends CFA Residency with Debut Performances

The Italian experimental theater company Dewey Dell presented "à elle vide," Sept. 9 and 10 in the Patricelli '92 Theater. Named after a character in William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying," the group was formed in 2007 by Teodora, Demetrio and Agata Castellucci, along with Eugenio Resta. Their two-week residency at Wesleyan included the American debut performances of "à elle vide" and "Cinquanta Urlanti Quaranta Ruggenti Sessanta Stridenti" (not pictured).

NEA Supports Breaking Ground Dance Series

Pam Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts, received a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the Breaking Ground Dance Series July 2011-June 2012.

The series features cutting-edge choreography and virtuosic dancing by world-renowned companies. This is the 11th anniversary season of the Breaking Ground Dance Series at Wesleyan.

NEFA Supports Dance Engagements, Jazz Performance

The Center for the Arts received six grants worth a total of $30,300 from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) to support five visiting dance engagements and a jazz performance in 2011-12. NEFA is supporting Vincent Mantsoe; the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange’s “The Matter of Origins;” Eiko & Koma; Viver Brazill; the San Francisco-based hula company Halau ’o Keikiali’i; and jazz musician Charles Lloyd.

Krishnan’s inDANCE Troup Featured in Toronto Star

Hari Krishnan

Hari Krishnan

Hari Krishnan, artist-in-residence in the Dance Department, was featured in the March 13 issue of The Toronto Star. In an article titled, “Dance: Traditional Meets the Postmodern,” Krishnan speaks about his dance troupe, InDANCE, which performs Indian classical dance style bharatanatyam with Western contemporary eroticism.

Krishnan was raised in Singapore, part of the small island republic’s Indian minority. He studied bharatanatyam and an imported European form of ballet. He embraced Western contemporary dance as an undergraduate in Canada. He holds a master’s degree in dance from York University in Toronto.

As a result, he’s hard to categorize and this has proved to be a problem for inDANCE, the ethnically diverse, multi-disciplinary company he founded in Toronto a decade ago.

“The handicap for me,” he says, “is that we do all kinds of work. We are not afraid to show skin, to talk about eroticism or sexuality using bharatanatyam as our medium. So, we have a problem accessing a solid audience in Toronto because people always want to box us. Either you’re a bharatanatyam company that propagates Indian family/cultural values or you’re not.”

According to the article, Krishnan travels widely, “commuting during the academic year to Middletown, Conn. – where he’s been artist-in-residence at Wesleyan University since 2001 – visiting India regularly for research, study and performances, and teaching in Britain.”

5 Questions with … Katja Kolcio

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, 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)

This issue, we ask 5 Questions to . . . Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, and author of the new Wesleyan University Press book Movable Pillars Organizing Dance, 1956–1978.

Q:  How did you become involved with the “Branching Out, Oral Histories of the Founders of Six National Dance Organizations” assignment, which led to your book?

A: In 2001, I was invited by the American Dance Guild to conduct interviews with founders of six major American dance organizations. Marilynn Danitz and Margot Lehman, past presidents of the Guild, conceived of the project. These organizations were founded in the ’50s and ’60s, and have had an important impact on dance in the United States since then. Many of their founders were getting older and had not been properly recognized for their tremendous contributions. This was an effort to talk with some of those pioneers and to document their recollections.

Q: Why did you focus on the founders and history of six particular organizations?

A: These organizations (the Congress on Research in Dance, the American Dance Therapy Association, the American College Dance Festival Association, the Dance Critics Association, and the Society of Dance History Scholars and the American Dance Guild) are all somewhat affiliated with one another, in one way or another. Many of the founders knew one another because most were on the East Coast or in New York City. The 20-year period within which they emerged marks a significant

DanceMasters Weekend March 6-7

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company will perform at DanceMasters Weekend March 6-7.

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company will perform at DanceMasters Weekend March 6-7.

Wesleyan celebrates its 11th annual DanceMasters Weekend March 6-7, an exciting event for choreographers, students, and dance enthusiasts alike.

“The mission of DanceMasters is to introduce dance students to contemporary techniques with the hope that they gain an understanding of the breadth and depth of what is out there in the dance world,” says Pamela Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts. “We are also providing regional dance teachers an important professional development opportunity through contact with world-class master teachers.”

Dancemasters offers a unique combination of outstanding performances and master classes. This year’s showcase performance features the Taylor 2 Dance Company, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and Carmen deLavallande. Master classes are taught by visiting artists from past and currently showcased companies, as well as members of Wesleyan’s dance faculty, providing instructions in a diverse range of dance styles including West African dance, jazz, hip-hop, and tap.

This year’s Dancemasters Weekend showcase performance takes place at 8 p.m. March 6 in the CFA Theater. Tickets are

Alejandro Honored for Contribution to the Arts

Pedro Alejandro (photo by Harold Shapiro for The Hartford Courant)

Pedro Alejandro (photo by Harold Shapiro for The Hartford Courant)

Pedro Alejandro, associate professor of dance, is a recipient of the C. Newton Shenck III Award for a “lifetime achievement in and contribution to the arts.”

Alejandro received the award from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven board of directors. He was mentioned in a Nov. 9 article in The Hartford Courant.

Alejandro was featured in The Wesleyan Connection in May 2008.