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Saturday, May 25 will be last chance to check out the 2013 Thesis Art Exhibition in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. The special Reunion & Commencement gallery hours are from 10am to 5pm. And there will be a reception from 2pm to 4pm, with remarks at 2:45pm. The exhibition, which features the Class of 2013’s thesis students in the Department of Art and Art History’s Art Studio Program, offers a compelling window into the hard work and technical prowess that went into each thesis project. The exhibition is curated by Professor of Art Tula Telfair, and is co-sponsored by University Relations.

Last month, the seniors’ work was on rotation in the Zilkha Gallery: each week, five or six seniors displayed larger showcases of their work. For the year-end showcase, each senior has a smaller amount of work on display.  Each piece of art stands on its own as a testament to the artist’s creativity and longstanding devotion to their work. When placed all together in this single space, though, these pieces come into conversation with each other in interesting and surprising ways.

It’s hard to wrap your head around the sheer variety in media and subject matter in this showcase—in one area of the exhibit, photographs of celebrity impersonators occupy the same corridor as a huge sculpture of a chicken leg that’s coated in corn flakes.

alahna-watsonI got a chance to speak to a few seniors about the artwork they have on display in the gallery. One of the people I caught up with was Alahna Watson ’13, the artist behind the aforementioned chicken leg. Her thesis, which reflects on her experiences growing up in the south, incorporates lots of different media—including watercolor paintings, computer print-outs, and sculpture. She spoke about her creative process, the inspiration behind her work, and how it feels to have her art on display.

Why did you choose the subject and medium that you did? What was the motivation behind it?

My subject matter stems from my time growing up in southern Georgia. While I was there, I never really felt like I fit in in my small, rural, insular town, and I often struggled to articulate the feeling of being an outsider in the place that I called home. I think coming to Wesleyan and meeting people from all different backgrounds, taking sociology and art classes, and, of course, talking about my life story with my friends until 5am, has finally helped me pinpoint and address the issues of class, race, and “outsiderness” that I wasn’t sure how to talk about before.

When it came time to do a thesis, there was never really a question of what I wanted to do it on. I think that doing a studio art thesis is about finding something that is unique to your own experience or viewpoint and being able to share that with a wide audience. My experiences in the south have shaped my identity so much that it was bound to come out in some form or another. I was lucky that the drawing concentration is so open in terms of media. My exhibition included sculptures, computer-based print-outs, and watercolor paintings, and they were all under the umbrella of “drawing.” I was glad that my ideas didn’t have to be limited to just 2D expression.

What was your creative process like?

It’s interesting that most of the stuff people saw in the final show was really only created in the last month or two before it went up. My adviser, Assistant Professor of Art Julia Randall, really stresses the importance of making “throw-away” drawings in order to get all of our ideas out and boil them down until only the good ones are left. There are a bunch of completely finished pictures and projects that never made the final cut. I would get an idea for a drawing in the shower or during lunch, spend days creating the piece, have it torn apart in a critique, end up throwing it away, and then return to the idea again, in a different form, weeks later.

How did it feel to be working on one huge project for such an extended period of time?

It was both exhausting and completely rewarding. Looking at some of the drawings I made in October or even over winter break is kind of like reading your diary entries from middle school—cringe-worthy. When you sit with the same idea for that long it morphs and develops and it really becomes a part of you. There was a time when I couldn’t go to Price Chopper without wondering if I could use the old food wrappers blowing around in the parking lot for a drawing. You start to see everything through the lense of your thesis. I think that’s what makes the final product so rich—you really have considered your idea from every angle. That being said, having so much time to think about the same thing leaves a lot of room for self-doubt. There were definitely times at 4am when I had drawn until my hand was numb that I started panicking, asking, “Do I even have a thesis? Are these ideas even cohesive? Who am I?!”

What was it like reflecting on your own background and experiences through this artistic lens?

I think one of the big things that I came to appreciate from doing a studio art thesis was that I always had to consider how my ideas would come across to people who weren’t familiar with me, my background, or my work. In talking about people, customs, and culture from a specific place I had to always make sure that I wasn’t being too judgmental or careless in my representations and opinions. I think having to constantly check in with myself and pinpoint exactly what I wanted to express made me reflect on my own background in an almost scientific way. By the end of the process I felt pretty detached from a lot of the personal experiences I have lived through because I was analyzing them so much.  But I think a certain level of detachment was good because it helped me put a lot of really personal stuff on display for hundreds of people to see without feeling embarrassed.

What’s it like to have your work up on display now?

It’s interesting that for the group exhibition people only get to see one piece from your final show. My giant fried chicken leg was the piece chosen, and I think a lot of its meaning is lost because it’s out of its original context. Of course it takes on new meaning because of the other people’s work that is displayed around it, and I think maybe people will pay more attention to its design and materiality now that it’s a stand-alone sculpture rather than a statement inside a bigger narrative. It’s a little weird having only one piece on display when the rest of my year-long project is rolled up in storage. That chicken leg is almost like a relic.

What do you hope visitors will get out of observing your work?

Like I said, I think a lot of the chicken leg’s original context is lost now that it’s by itself, but I hope people still find it startling, humorous, and maybe even a little uncomfortable. Fried chicken has a lot of problematic connotations in our society, which I hopefully touched on in my exhibition. By blowing it up to human-size and forcing you walk around it, I hope that, even by itself, it sparks some dialogue.

Music & Public Life Intern Aletta Brady ’15 talks to Kelsey Siegel ’13 about MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm. The festival will feature a commissioned flash mob dance choreographed by Kelsey Siegel to a hip-hop soundtrack created by DJ Arun Ranganathan, incorporating sounds from MiddletownRemix, at 2:30pm on Main Street between Liberty and Ferry Street. The flash mob dance is open to all levels of dancers. Learn the dance on YouTube here: www.youtube.com/wescfa and perform it as part of the flash mob on May 11 (participants should plan to arrive at the Festival Information Center, located at 575 Main Street in front of It’s Only Natural Market, at 2pm, and then perform the dance at 2:30pm).

Kelsey Siegel '13 (center) teaches her flash mob dance to Wesleyan University students outside of Fayerweather Beckham Hall.

Kelsey Siegel ’13 (center) teaches her flash mob dance to Wesleyan University students outside of Fayerweather Beckham Hall.

Kelsey Siegel ‘13 is choreographing the flash mob dance for the MiddletownRemix festival. She’s enthusiastic about the dance and excited to see members of the Wesleyan University community as well as greater Middletown residents dance together. I asked Kelsey a few questions about her participation with the MiddletownRemix festival, and here is what I learned:

Aletta Brady ’15: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Kelsey Siegel ’13: My name is Kelsey Siegel. I’m from Port Washington, New York. I am a Mathematics and Dance double major at Wesleyan. I am currently the director of FUSION Dance Crew, and serve as the Dance Production Coordinator for the Dance Department at Wesleyan. I have always loved dancing, and being active in general. Hip hop has been my favorite form of dance for a while, but Wesleyan recently opened me up to other forms. I have also begun to see dance as somewhat formless and rather more of a way of communicating my own, unique style with movement. 

Why did you decide to get involved with the MiddletownRemix project?

I was interested in getting involved with the MiddletownRemix project for several reasons. For one, I really enjoy working with students from Middletown, especially dancing with them. During my freshman year at Wesleyan, my dance crew would go to MacDonough Elementary School a few times a semester to dance with students in the afterschool program. Due to scheduling conflicts, however, we were unable to go after those few times. Reflecting back on it, I realized what a great time we had with the kids, and saw what a great time they had with us, and I knew we needed to find a way back into the community. I saw the opportunity to dance with students in the community again through the MiddletownRemix project, and immediately wanted in. Additionally, as an AmeriCorps volunteer at MacDonough Elementary School for two years, I spent a lot of time working with students in class and on their academic work. I realized that this project offered Wesleyan students a way of connecting with Middletown residents/students on a level that was beyond academics. I was excited to dance with students again, and to help show them how to be creative and expressive with both their bodies and their minds. I was excited to find a way for the Wesleyan and Middletown communities to connect through dance while also having fun.

Can you tell me about the dance that you choreographed?

The dance I choreographed is to the hip hop soundtrack of DJ N.E.B [Arun Ranganathan]. It has more of an old-school hip hop vibe to it, but also takes on a lot of my own style. I tried to keep the movements fairly simple and repetitive, so that anyone could learn the dance. I also wanted the movements to be simple enough for anyone to add their own style to it. I’m all about individual style, and wanted to showcase everyone’s personality through this dance, especially since most of the sounds featured in the track came from the MiddletownRemix website, where anyone could upload their own sound. This dance is all about getting funky and having fun!

What are you most looking forward to about the day of the MiddletownRemix festival?

I’m looking forward to the entire day of the festival, but especially the flash mob dance! I can’t wait to see all the kids out there who put so much work into learning the dance. I’m excited to see them own the dance and have fun dancing on the sidewalk together. It’s going to be awesome.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Everyone should come to the MiddletownRemix festival this Saturday May 11 from 2pm to 5pm! It has something for everyone and isn’t something you can find anywhere else. I feel very lucky to have been a part of this project, and cannot wait for the festival. It’s going to be an incredible day.

For the complete MiddletownRemix festival schedule, and to capture, contribute and remix sounds from Wesleyan and Middletown using the free UrbanRemix app for iPhone/iOS and Android devices, visit http://www.middletownremix.org

“s[our]ce,” Spring Dance Concert, 2013. Photo by Andrew Ribner '14.

“s[our]ce,” Spring Dance Concert, 2013. Photo by Andrew Ribner ’14.

The Spring Dance Concert, entitled “s[our]ce,” took place Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4, 2013in the Patricelli ’92 Theater, and featured works by dance majors Stellar Levy ‘15, Judy Lee ‘13, Miranda Orbach ‘15, Emily Jones ‘14, Tess Jonas ‘15, Harry Zhu, Nora Thompson ‘15, Min Suh ‘15, and Ibironke Otusile ‘15. The show was presented by the Wesleyan Dance Department and the Center for the Arts.

Each of the nine pieces was very distinct and reflected the unique styles and influences of the choreographers and the dancers. As a dancer myself, and having danced in the Spring Dance Concert in the past, it was interesting to see the final production of creative endeavors by members of the dance community that I know. Spring (and Winter) Dance is a cool process, since many of the pieces are choreographed through joint efforts by each of the dancers in a piece. I was able to see the styles and character of some of my friends infused in each of the pieces.

It is difficult to comment on all of the nine pieces, since they were each so special in their own ways.  I will instead talk about some poignant moments that really stuck out to me from several of the pieces. Stellar Levy’s piece, “Love You Infinitely” was interesting and endearing in that it featured many group interactions between dancers. It focused on the awkward and tender moments existing between people, featuring timid interactions, hugging, holding hands, and reaching out to other people. Tess Jonas’ piece contained both a powerful message and powerful movement. It opened with the dancers asking questions to one of the dancers on stage, ending with the question, “do you believe in God?” This question then launched the start of the dance with “God Bless America” playing in the background, and later, voices of kids and of newscast reports blended with the music. The dance delved into how one explores this question given the conflicting influences one receives as a child in school. Miranda Orbach’s piece was simply stunning. The dancers all wore bright red flowy pants; this uniform reflected the dynamism of the piece as well as the unity of their collective movement. In one section of the piece, each of the dancers was lying on their back in a row, with their feet up, while one of the dancers stood, manipulating and moving their legs up and down. This movement pattern resembled the movements of one’s fingers in sign language. Finally, Min Suh’s piece had cool visual effects in which a flashlight and a strobe light were used on an otherwise dark stage to illuminate dancers and to project and enlarge their silhouettes on the wall behind them. The use of darkness also had an interesting effect in that it created a poignant sense of the unknown; you didn’t know what was happening on parts of the stage that weren’t illuminated.

If you haven’t seen any dance events on campus yet, I urge you to do so. The dance community is so talented. Plus, there are so many different types of dance-related events, between Dance Department-sponsored events and performances put on by the many student dance groups on campus. Coming up is the West African Drumming & Dance Concert on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 3pm in the CFA Courtyard (rain location is Crowell Concert Hall). See you there!

Michelle Agresti ’14 talks to Middletown resident Marc Pettersen about MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm. “Projected World Experience,” a temporary, site-specific art/sound installation commissioned for the festival, will be created in the alleyway between 484 and 500 Main Street by Mr. Pettersen in conjunction with animation artist Cheryl Elliott, and DJ and video artist Matt Weston.

Marc Pettersen outside of MAC 650 Gallery.

Marc Pettersen outside of MAC 650 Gallery.

During the MiddletownRemix festival this Saturday, May 11 from 2pm to 5pm, you will have the opportunity to walk through another world: “Projected World Experience,” created by Marc Pettersen, in collaboration with Cheryl Eliot and Matt Weston. In the alleyway between 484 and 500 Main Street, images will be projected on all sides, accompanied by sounds from the MiddletownRemix project. The viewer/listener will be surrounded by this small, alternate universe.

“I want you to be immersed in a video and sound world, “ says Mr. Pettersen, who is responsible for the concept of the piece. To complete the project, he received a grant  from the Arts Catalyze Placemaking Program of the Connecticut Office of the Arts. With an additional grant from UrbanRemix, Mr. Pettersen was able to realize his vision for the festival. To make “Projected World Experience” possible, the alleyway will be covered with white screens, and the opening into a parking lot behind Main Street will be closed off to allow for true immersion.

Several things will happen in this world: there will be a portion where the viewers feel like they are walking on a bridge, and scenes from the bridge will be playing on either side of them. Images and actions paired with sounds will repeat. For example, when Mr. Pettersen showed me a sample of this section of the experience, a woman repeatedly ran across the screen, while another woman came on, played the guitar, and then walked off. All of the sounds are the sounds of Middletown, which Mr. Pettersen has collected through MiddletownRemix (you can read more about the MiddletownRemix project here).

“You just get this huge mix of the Middletown sounds, and then these things keep repeating,” Mr. Pettersen explains. “It’s a repetition of sounds, creating a symphony of sounds—layering on top of layering of things.”

Mr. Pettersen, who has a B.F.A. in Animation, designed the images as a mixture between real people filmed against a green screen (which Ms. Elliot assisted with), and animated images. This will also change depending on what section of the experience is playing—Mr. Pettersen also has plans for a jungle scene.

“They’ll be like, you know, the banging sound—there might be a bird trying to crack open a nut. A saw might be a monkey scratching itself. Make it kind of fun,” explains Mr. Pettersen.

The whole thing is made possible by two projectors that are controlled by one computer, built by Mr. Weston. The single computer is used so that the projectors are completely synchronized, necessary to make the project work correctly. The projected images will be 16 to 20 feet long, meaning that the audience will really feel like they are walking in a different world.

Mr. Pettersen describes the project as “taking the sounds of Middletown and changing the way you think about them.”

Mr. Pettersen is an active member of the Middletown community. Aside from teaching animation classes at Green Street Arts Center, he is a member of the Middletown artist cooperative known as MAC 650. There are eight other members, and they live at 650 Main Street. There is a gallery where they have art on display nearly every day of the year, showcasing their own work. Did this artistic community, which has a mandatory 30 hours of art service to Middletown requirement for all members, have a hand in “Projected World Experience?” Well, Mr. Pettersen found both of his collaborators, Ms. Elliot and Mr. Weston, through the collective. Also, he says that the collective provided “the freedom to be able to create,” thus inspiring this project.*

“Projected World Experience” will be on display during the festival. Walking through that alleyway this Saturday May 11 between 2pm and 5pm, the audience will be able to experience another world, with the “everyday” sounds of Middletown filtered through (literally) another lense.

For the complete MiddletownRemix festival schedule, and to capture, contribute and remix sounds from Wesleyan and Middletown using the free UrbanRemix app for iPhone/iOS and Android devices, visit http://www.middletownremix.org

*[Also during the MiddletownRemix festival this Saturday, there will be a special  North End Gallery Walk, with participating exhibitions at MAC 650 Gallery, as well as the Green Street Arts Center, the Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center, and Middletown Framing. Each location will display artworks related to the themes of Middletown and sound. Stop by the MAC 650 Gallery (located at 650 Main Street) to see the “Hear More, See More Photography Exhibition,” curated by Carolyn Reeves, President of the MAC 650 Artist Co-op. The photographic tribute to Middletown features images from novices to professionals, and shows a variety of shots of the city.]

[There are also regular, monthly gallery walks that typically take place on the first Friday of each month (upcoming walks will take place on June 7, July 12, August 2, September 6, October 4, and November 29, 2013). During those gallery walks, participating businesses and galleries are open from 5pm to 8pm for people to peruse the art and enjoy some entertainment and snacks.  For more information about those gallery walks: http://www.facebook.com/MiddletownNorthEndGalleryWalk ]

Emma Gross ’15 reviews the “Sundanese & Javanese Puppet Plays,” performed on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8pm in World Music Hall as part of the Indonesian Performing Arts & Public Life Symposium, as well as “Music & Public Life,” a year-long campus and community-wide exploration, celebrating and studying the sounds, words, and spirit of music at the local, national, and transnational levels through concerts, workshops, gatherings, and courses, all designed to cross disciplines.

Sundanese wayang golek puppets.

Sundanese wayang golek puppets.

Gongs, xylophones, flutes, and drums of the Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble sounded throughout the World Music Hall on Saturday April 27. As this traditional Indonesian orchestra played, spectators flocked to the building’s windows to get a better look at the show. A packed audience sat within the hall, enraptured by the performers—only one of whom was human.

The play was an Indonesian “wayang,” or puppet play. The event I attended Saturday night was the final installment of the Indonesian Performing Arts & Public Life Symposium. This celebration of Indonesian theater ran Thursday, April 25 to Saturday, April 27. It included speakers, performances, and demonstrations related to wayang, including a talk by guest puppeteer Kathy Foley, Professor of Southeast Asian Drama and Dance at the University of California Santa Cruz; Sarah Weiss, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at Yale University; Ronald Jenkins, Wesleyan University Professor of Theater; and Javanese musician, scholar, and Wesleyan University Professor of Music Sumarsam.

Saturday’s sold-out wayang featured two types of Indonesian puppet play: Sundanese “wayang golek” and Javanese “wayang kulit.” The Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble, under the direction of Artist in Residence I.M. Harjito, provided the score for both acts.

The first segment showcased wayang golek, wooden doll puppets. Wayang golek are about a foot tall, and are operated by rods attached to the figures’ hands and running through their bodies. Each doll is embellished with intricate and elaborate costumes. Every puppet that performed in the show was clothed in vibrant colors and patterns; their bodies were detailed in gold, and their heads were carved with obvious care and precision into faces that could carry a range of emotional expression.

This spectacular ensemble of Sundanese figures performed a story from the “Babad Lokapala” cycle—the “prequel” to the “Ramayana,” describing how the demons and monkeys came to be. The audience sat cross-legged in the World Music Hall and watched, riveted, as the tale unfolded. This absolute viewer engagement speaks to the skill of the “dhalang,” or puppet master, Kathy Foley.

Ms. Foley was the sole puppeteer orchestrating the Sundanese “wayang golek.” She assumed the role of narrator, as well as the voice of every character. Ms. Foley endowed each puppet with distinctive mannerisms, gait, and speaking patterns. The entity and precise characteristics she brought to each figure succeeded in transporting the audience into the world at the front of the stage.

According to Ms. Foley, there are three character types in wayang golek: characters associated with adolescence, middle age, and as Ms. Foley describes, a final type that “represents our face as we approach our moment of death. They’re that part of us that screams, causes trouble, does everything else that’s sort of wild, and that we would love to forget.”

Together, these three character types performed a clever, engaging, moralistic, and comedic story. Ms. Foley maintained audience engagement not only through her adept puppet movement, voice inflection and facial expression, but also through her integration of humor into the narrative. At one point in the story, Ms. Foley remarked, “the monkeys, they sleep all day and stay up all night—just like Wesleyan students.”

At the end of the wayang golek act, audience members were treated to the Indonesian delicacy “lemper,” a dish made of glutinous rice filled with chicken. The lemper was homemade by a Middletown resident of Indonesian background, and distributed by Wesleyan students from Indonesia.

“The lemper was a delicious surprise,” remarked audience member Molly Steinfeld ‘15. “The evening was filled with introductions to various elements of Indonesian art and culture; the lemper added a tasty layer to this exploration.”

The second half of the show was dedicated to Javanese “wayang kulit,” or shadow puppets. “Kulit,” meaning skin, refers to the leather construction of the puppets. Each figure is carefully chiseled with fine tools and supported with carefully shaped buffalo horn handles and control rods. The shadows are cast on a cotton screen, and at Saturday’s performance, audience members were given the option of sitting on the viewing side of the puppets or the shadow side.

The dhalang for the second act was Wesleyan’s own Sumarsam, who told a story from the epic “Mahabharata.” The narrative involved a demon king, a guru in disguise, and a heavenly nymph. The plot, laden with desire, curses, comedy and confusion, was equally as enthralling as the Sundanese performance.

“The pace of a Javanese play is a lot more subdued than that of a Sundanese one,” explained Rizky Rahadianto ’15, a West Java native.

Mr. Rahadianto points to a key difference between the two acts. While the Sundanese puppets were constantly and vigorously moving—their gestures and dances were overstated and their voices were caricatures of the figures they portrayed—the Javanese figures were mostly stagnant; the incantation of their dialogue was slower, and the overall tone of the narrative felt calmer than that of the Sundanese.

Due to the more relaxed nature of wayang kulit and the viewer’s visual obstruction (caused by the cotton screen) from the characters, the audience’s engagement with the story is largely dependent on the expression of the dhalang.

“Sumarsam is an incredibly skilled dhalang,” commented Mr. Rahadianto. “His puppet movement and expression is perfectly executed. Sumarsam’s dialogue maintained the calm incantation of the Javanese wayang, but incorporated sharp social commentary and political humor, keeping viewers on their toes.”

Mr. Rahadianto was one of about ten Indonesian students in the audience at the performance Saturday night. “The last time I saw wayang was when I was in elementary school,” Mr. Rahadianto said. “Groups would come perform when we were younger, but never in middle or high school. This event allowed me to revisit part of my childhood. It was extremely nostalgic.”

Mr. Rahadianto explained that while wayang was popular when he was growing up, due to the influx of western television programming in Indonesian cities, there is less demand from young children today for puppet material. However, wayang continues to remain popular in more rural regions of Indonesia.

“I’m thrilled that Wesleyan made this opportunity available to its students and to the Middletown community,” said Mr. Rahadianto. “It’s a way to share and preserve Indonesian culture.”

Michelle Agresti ’14 talks to composer and computer musician Jason Freeman of UrbanRemix about MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm. Wesleyan University’s Toneburst Laptop & Electronic Arts Ensemble, directed by Assistant Professor of Music Paula Matthusen, will perform the world premiere of “MTRX” (2012) by Jason Freeman on May 11 at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm at the Green Street Arts Center at 51 Green Street.

jasonfreeman

Jason Freeman.

MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound may be a one-day event on Saturday, May 11, 2013, but it is in fact the culmination of a project that has been going on since September 2012, fittingly titled MiddletownRemix. This project has had people all over the greater Middletown area recording sounds of the environment on their phone and remixing them into soundscape compositions. These compositions can then be shared, and the project can be joined by anyone here. Each month, there are certain themes: April’s theme was “Forgotten/Lost,” and this month’s theme is “Natural.” And you can listen to featured remixes and sounds here. Since this past fall, people have been creating these unique sound pieces, making what seems to be ordinary Middletown background noise into moving compilations of found sound art. In a way, it could be akin to found poetry—only using your ears, not your eyes. During the day of the festival (May 11 from 2pm to 5pm), Middletown DJ Arun Ranganathan, along with Wesleyan University student DJs Coral Foxworth ‘15 and William Brewster Lee ’13, will remix the sounds of MiddletownRemix on the Remix Sound Stage outside It’s Only Natural Market at 575 Main Street.

MiddletownRemix is made possible with software from UrbanRemix, a program with a mobile phone recording component and an internet platform for recording, remixing, and sharing final products. Its goal, according to their website, is to “design a platform and series of public workshops that would enable participants to develop and express the acoustic identity of their communities, and enable users of the website to explore and experience the soundscapes of the city in a novel fashion.” It’s the brainchild of Jason Freeman, Michael Nitsche, and Carl DiSalvo, all professors at Georgia Tech. I spoke with Jason Freeman, an Associate Professor of Music in the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech, who was instrumental in bringing UrbanRemix to Middletown, and whose piece commissioned for the festival, “MTRX” (2012), premieres at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm on May 11 at the Green Street Arts Center, located at 51 Green Street. The work will be performed by Wesleyan’s Toneburst Laptop & Electronic Arts Ensemble under direction of Assistant Professor of Music Paula Matthusen.

Mr. Freeman and his colleagues created UrbanRemix out of a desire to get people to pay more attention to the world around them. They wanted people to be able to rediscover and reaffirm appreciation for their hometowns and cities. Being musicians, they chose sound as the means to do this.

“We were really trying to come up with a way to help people become more aware of the sounds around them, to be able to listen to the sounds they might normally ignore and sort of block, and to actually take a moment to search for them and reflect about them—to share them,” explains Mr. Freeman.

But taking “ordinary” sounds from the environment and using them to create a piece is not an entirely new idea. UrbanRemix has its basis in the “fairly old,” according to Mr. Freeman, study of acoustic ecology. This art form began in the 1960s with R. Murray Schafer’s work on the “World Soundscape Project,” where he and others recorded the sounds of different environments and cities by just taking a recorder and listening.

Mr. Freeman and his colleagues, however, did not want to stop here.

“We really wanted to use technology to take this a step further,” he says. “We really wanted to do something more active to put people directly into the sound environment and ask them to identify sound.”

Well, there’s an app for that. They looked to cell phones, and made a program that would turn a mobile device into a recorder. Then, once sounds were recorded, they created a web interface that made the sounds easy to not only remix, but also to share. By using phones, Mr. Freeman and his colleagues made this technology, and therefore this art form, accessible to a very wide number of people. Thus, UrbanRemix was born.

But how did it make it to Middletown? Last year, Assistant Professor of Music Paula Matthusen invited her old friend and colleague Mr. Freeman to give a colloquium to her students at Wesleyan. While here, Mr. Freeman started talking to people in the Wesleyan Music Department, and they discovered that his work with UrbanRemix really fit in with “Music & Public Life,” a year-long campus and community-wide exploration that has included concerts, workshops, gatherings, and courses, all designed to cross disciplines. MiddletownRemix and Mr. Freeman’s involvement in the festival grew out of that collaboration.

The reason that Mr. Freeman’s work and “Music & Public Life” meshed so well together is because the “Music & Public Life” project examines how music interacts with public spheres, such as with public policy, or the digital realm, or even the community at Wesleyan and Middletown as a whole. The project is “celebrating and studying the sounds, words, and spirit of music in public at the local, national, and transnational levels.”  The main goal of MiddletownRemix, aside from getting residents to hear their city in a whole new way, is to let them know and explore their community through sound. The idea is that the project will bring people closer together, and give them insight into the communal, and public, character of Middletown.

“I think it’s a fun way to explore and discover the city in a way they haven’t really experienced it before, and to use that as a basis for connecting with other people,” says Mr. Freeman.

While MiddletownRemix itself is an on-going project that anyone can participate in at any time at www.middletownremix.org, the public presentation of remixes by DJ Ranganathan, Coral Foxworth ’15, William Brewster Lee ’13, and others at the MiddletownRemix festival will expose you to a Middletown you may have overlooked. Come check them out at the festival on Saturday, May 11 from 2pm to 5pm, but in the meantime, you could take MiddletownRemix for a spin yourself—see what sounds you can find!

For the complete MiddletownRemix festival schedule, and to capture, contribute and remix sounds from Wesleyan and Middletown using the free UrbanRemix app for iPhone/iOS and Android devices, visit http://www.middletownremix.org

Music & Public Life Intern Aletta Brady ’15 talks to photographer and filmmaker Joe McCarthy and woodcut artist, bookbinder, papermaker, and muralist Peter Albano about MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm. The art/sound installation “Camera Obscura,” a temporary 16′ X 8′ “camera” commissioned for the festival, will be installed on the corner of Main Street and Grand Street by Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Albano. The installation will also be featured outside of the Usdan University Center at 45 Wyllys Avenue the week leading up to the festival, from Monday May 6 through Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Photographer and filmmaker Joe McCarthy (left) and woodcut artist, bookbinder, papermaker, and muralist Peter Albano (right), working on their art/sound installation “Camera Obscura,” commissioned for the MiddletownRemix Festival, taking place on Saturday, May 11 from 2pm to 5pm.

In mid-April, I biked over to Peter and Joe’s house after I got off of work at the Center for the Arts. When I arrived, they were out in their backyard working on building their art installation that will be featured at MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound on Saturday, May 11 from 2pm to 5pm. The installation is titled “Camera Obscura.” They happily showed me around the frame of the piece that they were working on, and invited me to join them around their coy pond for our interview.

Peter Albano is a graduate of the University of Hartford Art School where he studied printmaking, and Joe McCarthy studied photography and film in Boston and Los Angeles, before the two of them met in Middletown, and collaborated as artists on the Hog River Revival Project in Hartford. They described their project for the MiddletownRemix festival as “pinhole photography, just on a much larger scale—a pinhole camera that you can walk inside of. The sound element going on will [make it] a full sensory experience inside the camera”.

They had a lot of great things to say about the MiddletownRemix festival, and their role in it. Here are some highlights from our conversation:

Aletta Brady ‘15: Tell me about your art/sound installation “Camera Obscura” that will be displayed at the MiddletownRemix festival.

Joe McCarthy: We started thinking about the idea of creating this soundscape that was basically just taken, much like the [MiddletownRemix] project, from the streets. Nothing really created, more just arranged. And then we thought, “well, what kind of visual can match that sound element?” And, you know, the most bare bones, un-augmented camera is just a simple pinhole lens. There’s nothing to focus it, it is what it is, it’s just light. It use[s] the visuals from the streets of Middletown that are literally just what’s in front of your eyes. Its kind of like removing people from Main Street in order for them to more clearly view Main Street, or more clearly experience Main Street.

Peter Albano: One of the issues that we encountered was incorporating a sound element that highlighted the visual elements, because those are two completely different senses, and we landed on the idea of creating and taking one out of the environment, and that’s what the structure to walk into was, rather than any structure you just observe.

Aletta Brady ‘15: Why were you interested in creating an installation for the MiddletownRemix festival in particular?

Joe McCarthy: I think that we were both really excited that [the festival] is all about Middletown, like two blocks from where we make work, you know? ‘Cause the area that you choose to be in definitely has an influence on your work, and this sort of opportunity has allowed that influence to come to the front, which is healthy sometimes.

Conceptual drawing of “Camera Obscura,” a temporary 16′ X 8′ “camera,” which will be installed on the corner of Main Street and Grand Street during the MiddletownRemix Festival on Saturday, May 11 from 2pm to 5pm.

Aletta Brady ‘15: Tell me about yourselves as artists and your own personal journeys.

Peter Albano: I come from a much different background technique-wise than Joe. I’m much more of a drawer. I studied printmaking in college. I never dabbled in photography until the Hog River project. What drew me to this project was the scale of it, and the idea of getting it to work, making it work. It’s an endeavor. On a more broad scheme, I think most of our work revolves around the idea of highlighting the citizen that passes [and] community involvement. The Hog River project was a Hartford-centric project, and it revolved around the gathering of people and the sharing of information, and I think this project is a nice step up from there.

Joe McCarthy: All of my work, it just is a kind of way for me to break down something that I’m curious about. The subject matter is always on a personal level derived from me trying to reconcile my thoughts about one thing or another. Technically, the work I do has a lot to do with light, and in the Hog River project, that was all about [light], because there wasn’t any of it. That kind of became [the “Camera Obscura” project], where you have all the light in the world, and it’s all about limiting it and blocking it out and controlling the light.

Aletta Brady ‘15: What are you most excited about for Saturday May 11, the day of the MiddletownRemix festival?

Peter Albano: The flash mob dance [at 2:30pm in front of It’s Only Natural Market at 575 Main Street].

Joe McCarthy: I always get a kick out of being able to stand away from my work and watching how people interact with it, its always fun. Its cool to make something and there’s nothing you can do, it’s out there now, so all you have to do is just stand back and no one knows like, “oh those are the guys that made it.” So you can just stand there and watch someone, or go into the camera with someone, and really just pay attention to how that stranger interacts with this completely new thing to them. Its impossible to be objective. By the end of this camera, neither one of us will be able to say its good or bad, or if it worked or it didn’t, ‘cause we’re way too close to it, so I’m always curious about what the reveal on a finished piece of work is to a clean set of eyes.

For the complete MiddletownRemix festival schedule, and to capture, contribute and remix sounds from Wesleyan and Middletown using the free UrbanRemix app for iPhone/iOS and Android devices, visit http://www.middletownremix.org

Take a Deep Breath and Open Your Ears
A preview of “Rainforest IV” and “Lighthouse, beside the point”

Michelle Agresti ’14 talks to University Professor of Music Ronald Kuivila about MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm. The world premiere of Professor Kuivila’s sound installation commissioned for the festival, “Lighthouse, beside the point,” will be located in the glass pavilion atop the Community Health Center at 675 Main Street. Professor Kuivila and Wesleyan University music students are also reconstructing David Tudor’s “Rainforest IV” (1973) inside of 635 Main Street.

Wesleyan University Professor of Music Ronald Kuivila reconstructing David Tudor’s “Rainforest IV” (1973) inside of 635 Main Street in Middletown in preparation for the MiddletownRemix festival on Saturday, May 11.

For MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound on Saturday, May 11, Wesleyan University Professor of Music Ronald Kuivila will be premiering his sound installation “Lighthouse, beside the point,” as well as realizing  David Tudor’s sound composition “Rainforest IV.” To interview Professor Kuivila, I visited the future site of “Rainforest IV,” which is in an abandoned storefront on Main Street. I watched with curiosity as Ron briskly strode across the unfinished floor, past the roughed up dry-wall, and in between bare pipes stretching from the ceiling, setting up a speaker. While I followed him with my recorder, Ron explained his vision and purpose for the installation.

“[It’s] based on this idea that loud speakers can be themselves instruments,” Professor Kuivila explains. “The idea of ‘Rainforest’ is to take objects from the junk pile, say a door, oil drum, bicycle rim, and turn them into loudspeakers that have their own distinctive voices.”

The way that Professor Kuivila would accomplish this is by attaching a transducer, or the coil and magnet from inside of a loudspeaker, to the part of the object with the most resonance. The way speakers work is by that coil causing a piece of cardboard, or some other light material inside the speaker box, to vibrate back and forth—“Rainforest IV” just replaces the cardboard with a door, or an air duct, or suit of armor. Then, sounds (but not composed music) are broadcast through the transducer, causing the object to vibrate and give off a unique voice.

The abandoned shop front at 635 Main Street will soon be filled with objects like this, all of which will be giving off sound at varying times and volumes. The “performance” is always going on—for hours at a time. People will be let into the room on Saturday, May 11 from 2pm to 5pm, and allowed to wander at will.  Professor Kuivila says that “Rainforest IV” experiences tend to go like this: the first half hour is spent touring all the pieces (“like a science fair,” he says), then it shifts to a “cocktail party”-like atmosphere with people chatting with each other, and finally, about 45 minutes in, everyone settles down and really begins to listen.

“You become acquainted with these objects, which have sculptural properties. It really is like a sculptural installation,” he describes. “You’re becoming aware of them through the sounds they are producing, and becoming aware of their physicality through that sound in a way that you would find difficult to do without the sound. The composer David Tudor described [that] his goal was for a tuned environment.”

This work is “Rainforest IV;” there are also “Rainforests” I-III, all composed by David Tudor, from 1968 to 1973. These works (especially “Rainforest” and “Rainforest IV,” the only two that are recorded) have been re-created and performed at various places.

Even though the production of “Rainforest IV” in Middletown is in the preliminary stages, Professor Kuivila was still able to demonstrate part of the installation. Taking the speaker that he had been plugging in all over the room in search of a working outlet, he feeds the microphone connected to the speaker into a silver tube, which is attached to a long pipe on the ceiling. Discontent with the sound produced, he screws off the silver tube and just puts the microphone into the pipe. The pipe, he tells me, is connected to the outside of the building.

“If you actually listen, you can hear the outside filtered through the resonances of the pipe. It’s generally quite beautiful,” says Professor Kuivila.

Listening to the loudspeaker, the noises of cars honking, trucks driving by, and children yelling are converted to haunting, lingering versions of themselves. Ron is unsurprisingly right: the ordinary sounds of afterschool traffic are transformed into something captivating. I remark that the particular reverberations we are listening to sound like the background to a horror film—but that’s just me. As it turns out, individual experiences with this piece are important.

In fact, according to Professor Kuivila, “the point of the piece is to create a situation where everyone has a very unique and original encounter with the soundworld.” With construction barely started, I was able to have my own, in a compelling way.

As for “Rainforest IV” as a whole, Professor Kuivila says, “it’s really a piece about learning how to do electronic music. It’s a piece to teach people about this idea of hearing sounds not as part of a tonal continuity, but as kind of complete in themselves. It’s a way of thinking of music not based on the voice, but based on the world.”

Professor Kuivila is also putting up his own original work commissioned for the MiddletownRemix festival, called “Lighthouse, beside the point,” in the beautiful glass pavilion atop the new Community Health Center at 675 Main Street. “Lighthouse” is based on transferring some of the phenomena of looking out a lighthouse into a soundscape. He uses “very very” directional speakers, that shoot sound out in very specific streams—you have to be directly in line with the sound stream to hear it, mimicking the very specific sightline of the light of the lighthouse.

“I was interested in this idea of connecting sightlines to particular sounds that would somehow reveal what you’re looking at,” explains Professor Kuivila.

Additionally, in the room, which Ron describes as furnished “like a set from ‘Mad Men,’” there will be old-fashioned telephones placed around. They will ring occasionally, and once picked up, will broadcast half of a word into a person’s ear. The other half of the word will be broadcast by a speaker into the room. While the sound broadcast into the room will sound like a vague noise, the syllables coming through the phone will make it recognizable—if you’re listening with both ears.

“You’re having to listen in this way you never do with a telephone, “ says Professor Kuivila. Instead of just focusing on what is coming through the phone, like we would normally do, you are forced to expand your attention to the environment around you.

In fact, this “direction of attention,” a phrase that Ron used a variety of times during our interview, is very much a part of not only “Lighthouse” and “Rainforest,” but it is a major theme of the entire MiddletownRemix festival. Professor Kuivila describes the event as a way of creating an alertness to the sounds of Middletown, instead of ignoring them as part of daily life. It is using sound to raise aural awareness and lead people to appreciate the world around them more.

“Because we live so much texting and looking at little things here,” says Professor Kuivila, indicating his phone, “we tend to lose sight of the extent to which our giving our attention over to something can become a very powerful and beautiful experience.”

For the complete MiddletownRemix festival schedule, and to capture, contribute and remix sounds from Wesleyan and Middletown using the free UrbanRemix app for iPhone/iOS and Android devices, visit http://www.middletownremix.org

Music & Public Life Intern Aletta Brady ’15 talks to DJ Arun Ranganathan about MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm.  Arun has been commissioned to create a 30-minute remix based on the sounds of MiddletownRemix, which will be performed live at both 2pm and 4pm on the main sound stage outside of It’s Only Natural Market at 575 Main Street, interspersed with remixes by Wesleyan student DJs.

DJ Arun Ranganathan

I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Arun Ranganathan—also known as DJ N.E.B.—a local hip hop artist, producer and DJ from Middletown’s North End. DJ N.E.B. will be dropping beats on the main stage during MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound on May 11. A beloved member of the Middletown community, he told me about his work, and why he’s excited about the upcoming festival. Here are some excerpts from our interview:

Aletta Brady ‘15: How did you get in to DJing?

DJ N.E.B.: Friends of mine back in the day, like, 1983, got me into hip hop break dancing, and then they were like “Oh you gotta see this guy DJ,” and we went out to Plaza Drive, and one of the kids there, this Puerto Rican kid named RC, used to set up his turn tables and DJ for the entire courtyard, and we’d all get together and dance, and that was when I was like “Ah man I gotta get myself a pair of those.” I started in 1985, I was eleven, and then I never stopped.

Why did you decide to be a part of the MiddletownRemix festival?

I got a call from a few friends of mine saying that there was this cool remix project. My buddy Topher showed me [the MiddletownRemix] website and I signed up for it like six, seven months ago. I would go there once in a while and listen to what other people did and I was like “wow.” When Erinn [Roos-Brown, Program Manager at the Center for the Arts] called me up [in the spring] and explained it to me, I just liked the idea. I’ve always wanted to get into recording ambient sounds like we used to do it a long time ago, just gather stuff. I like to experiment with sound and record samples through speakers or in hallways and see how it sounds. And people were gathering sounds already. All I had to do was take them and manipulate them. When [Erinn] said “do you want to do it?” I was really excited about that ‘cause its something that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a step away from sampling records or creating my own sounds out of samples, ya know? That was a new challenge for me, something refreshing, something I haven’t done before.

Tell me about the remixes that you’re creating for the MiddletownRemix festival. 

So far, I have three that I’ve done, and I have a couple concepts for the next two. I’m going to make about three ½ minute pieces, but I’m going to be DJing them live, so they’ll end up being five minutes a piece, ‘cause I’m going to do some turn-tableism with them. I just try to be inspired by something, so I just go through the samples that I grab from the [MiddletownRemix] website, and I don’t really have any plan, but when something is just like “Oh yea that was really cool” I’ll experiment and something happens, something comes out of it. [One] song was inspired by my friend Brian, he’s sort of like a grumpy artist around here, and the recording that the person got was perfect, ‘cause they were like “hey talk” and [Brian] was like “no, we’ve already been through this, stop recording,” and I thought that was hilarious, ‘cause it illustrated him, so I made a beat, and then just used that as the main. Another one that I most recently made was entirely off of sounds, I got somebody banging on a table for a kick drum, and I created a snare out of it, and somehow somebody made a weird sound with their mouth, and it sounded like a high hat, and I strung together a piece called “bells,” the St. Johns Bells, and that sounded really cool. It also incorporated a sample of a kid, a rougher sample. The contrast of these kids getting into trouble and the pure bells in the background seemed like a cool contrast.

How does the MiddletownRemix project connect with your community?

I’m recognizing people, and I know a lot of people that uploaded stuff. I’m familiar with the ambient sounds, it reminds me of my neighborhood and it just feels good that I’m able to do that, living in that neighborhood, using sounds mostly from that neighborhood. It’s truly a collaboration, because I’m using other people’s recordings which [is] fun. It’s a lot of fun. I feel like I’m connected to my community even more now,  ‘cause I can take audio samples and make a piece out of it.

What are you most looking forward to about the MiddletownRemix festival?

I hope that people come out and recognize things that I sampled, and maybe like “ah that’s something I recorded.” I’m looking forward to being able to just mix my own pieces that are from that environment and hear it loud. That’s the best part of it all.

For the complete MiddletownRemix festival schedule, and to capture, contribute and remix sounds from Wesleyan and Middletown using the free UrbanRemix app for iPhone/iOS and Android devices, visit http://www.middletownremix.org

Emma Gross ’15 talks to Lindsay Kosasa ’13 and Cynthia Tong ’14 about Precision Dance Ensemble, who performed “Can’t Get Enough” on March 29 & 30, 2013.

At Wesleyan, April marks the beginning of warm, Foss-sitting weather, community events such as Wesfest and Zonker Harris Day, and the bittersweet final weeks of the academic year.

April is also, however, a month that celebrates dance at Wesleyan. In the upcoming weeks, students from all dance backgrounds, with all levels of experience will showcase their talent and creative expression through movement.

Precision Dance Ensemble kicked off this month’s performances with their 19th annual showcase, “Can’t Get Enough,” which ran March 29-30, 2013. Both shows on Friday were packed, and Saturday’s performance sold out completely. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has previously attended a Precision showcase.

Precision Dance Ensemble is a subset of Precision Dance Company, a collective comprised of the aforementioned Ensemble, which performs contemporary dance; and Precision Dance Troupe, which performs hip-hop.

“Can’t Get Enough” was sponsored by Second Stage, and held in the Patricelli ’92 Theater. The showcase was comprised of eight dances, each of which was choreographed and performed by members of Precision. The group currently consists of seventeen women from all grades, two of whom are abroad for the semester. While the members are from a range of academic backgrounds, and only five are dance majors, the women share an adeptness for dance and a passion for Movement.

“Precision holds auditions in the fall, which are open to the entire community,” explained Precision Ensemble Director Lindsay Kosasa ’13. “Though our group is currently all-female, we have had male members of the company in the past. The company prides itself on the quality of its performances, so throughout auditions we look for individuals with technical skill, who can quickly pick up choreography, and who are excited about dance.”

Precision is the only student dance group that performs in a formal space, such as the Patricelli ’92 Theater. Ms. Kosasa noted that the strength of the Ensemble’s showcase is dependent on the camaraderie, trust, and collaborative dynamics of the group.

“Following auditions, once our group has been assembled, we meet throughout the fall to bond as a dance company,” Ms. Kosasa explained. “In order to present the strongest spring showcase we can, it is crucial that we are comfortable working and dancing together.”

The ensemble begins technical preparation for its performance at the start of the second semester. Individuals from within the Ensemble volunteer to choreograph dances, and other Precision members preference the pieces in which they would like to perform. Ms. Kosasa, along with Cynthia Tong ’14, the Liaison Director of Precision Dance Company (meaning she dances in and oversees both the Troupe and the Ensemble,) decide which members will participate in which dances.

Once the pieces are set, rehearsals begin.  Halfway through the semester, the Ensemble meets as a whole, so dancers may showcase the progress of their pieces and give feedback on each other’s work.

“This informal performance allows the entire group to collaborate and make creative suggestions for the dancers and choreographers,” explained Ms. Tong.

Ms. Tong and Ms. Kosasa were two of the eight dancers who choreographed pieces for this year’s performance.  Regarding the process of developing a dance, Ms. Kosasa explained, “I usually take inspiration from the song I have chosen for the piece. This year, my song changed four or five times. As a result, I spent a significant amount of time in the studio choreographing the movements. It certainly speaks to the skill of the dancers I worked with that they were able to learn, re-learn, and polish a piece in only three or four rehearsals.”

Ms. Tong approached the creation of her dance in a different way. “My piece centered on the theme of vulnerability and exposure,” she explained. “I focused the choreography around three body parts: the neck, the under belly, and the wrists. The piece also incorporated movement with chairs, which I had never done before. The relationships I developed with my dancers granted me a certain amount of freedom as a choreographer. Their trust allowed me to explore alternative dance movements.”

Ms. Tong emphasized the inherent learning experience in putting on a dance show, not only in choreographing and rehearsing a number, but also in creating a performance poster, designing a lighting scheme, and preparing the theater space.

Though Ms. Kosasa and Ms. Tong expressed that the weeks leading up to “Can’t Get Enough” were fairly nerve-wracking, both were pleased with show’s outcome. Audience members shared this sentiment; following Friday night’s 7pm and 9pm performances, tickets for Saturday’s show sold out by the early Afternoon.

“We’re lucky to have an extremely supportive following,” Ms. Kosasa said. “This is partially due to the expansion Wesleyan’s dance community has seen in the past few years.”

There are currently more than ten student dance organizations on campus. From Prometheus, a group specializing in fire art and manipulation; to Terpsichore, a dance collective whose performances seek to include as many students as possible, regardless of previous Experience; dance at Wesleyan is accessible to all interested students.

“Everyone in Precision is in another dance group, a dance class, or working on another dance related project,” said Ms. Tong. “This interconnected, collaborative, and inclusive dance community makes for extremely supportive audiences.”

Ms. Kosasa elaborated, “What I’ve learned from exposure to dance at Wesleyan is that anyone can, and everyone should, dance. I’ve talked to so many graduates who regret that they never participated in any dance on campus. Wesleyan’s dance culture is fascinating because its community is composed of many individuals who are not classically trained, and who do not come from a traditional dance background. As a result, performances showcase new and exciting movement that challenges the definition and purpose of dance, pushing our community to heighten its creativity and stretch its understanding of this medium.”

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