Concert Features Premieres of Faculty Works
The season’s most
anticipated dance event will feature the premieres of original
works by Smith dance professors Susan Waltner, Rodger Blum,
and guest artist-in-residence Donna Mejia, whose new work
is grounded in the fascinating world of Tribal Fusion Dance.
The performances, on Thursday
through Saturday, Nov. 20 to 22, will also include new
dances by graduates of Smith’s
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Dance program Cathy Nicoli
and Candice Salyers, and by West African dance artist/choreographer
Marilyn Sylla and her troupe of drummers.
Performances begin at 8 p.m. in Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center
for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $9 (for general public),
$5 (for students and seniors).
This is Donna Mejia’s
third and final year serving as guest artist in residence
and it may be the last opportunity to see her perform in
this area for some time. Smith is the first college in
the nation to feature the genre Arab-American Tribal Fusion
as a part of the dance department curriculum. Mejia has
choreographed a high-spirited, percussive work showcasing
sophisticated micro-movement with unusual musical interpretation.
Donna Mejia (photo
by Jon Crispin)
Mejia’s piece combines contemporary sound technology
with the doumbek, one of the oldest classical percussion
instruments in the world. “Arab-American Tribal Fusion
an emerging genre reflecting
new technology in world music, cultural exchange between
the East and West, and intense international interest in
American hip hop and electronic music,” Mejia explains. “The resulting dance
is a response to computer-generated accents and digital manipulation
of traditional instruments, while aspiring to the signature
values of Middle Eastern classical dance tradition. There
is never a dull moment!”
Candice Salyers received
an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary arts from
the University of Memphis and an MFA in dance from Smith.
She is currently pursuing a doctorate at Texas Woman’s
University. Her solo performance work has most recently been
presented by New England Foundation for the Arts and Bates
Salyers uses her work to collaborate with the audience in
creating a multiplicity of meanings. Her solo piece, You
(and everything else) explores the “boundaries
we erect in attempt to save ourselves from a world full of
heartache, as well as the futility of those separations,” she
Cathy Nicoli earned her bachelor degree cum laude in dance
and performance studies from Roger Williams University and
her MFA from Smith. Nicoli, through her compositional framework
and the shared performance of such, explores the notion of
assembly and the imagining of unity between disparate parts.
She approaches this by playing with various choreographic
principles, such as accumulation, repetition, retrograde,
construction, and deconstruction. Her piece features a Five
College cast of graduate and undergraduate students.
Susan Waltner, choreographer and professor of dance at Smith,
will be presenting a piece called Just Ask Me, an
exploration of the physicality of leaning, with an opening
for metaphors of what it means to lean on someone, and what
it means to be leaned on.
Rodger Blum, professor of dance at Smith, will present a
piece exploring the romantic themes in the 1945 classic David
Lean film Brief Encounter. The film is based on
the screenplay and movie by Noel Coward.
Marilyn Sylla is a Five College lecturer in dance who has
choreographed and performed with her husband, Sekou Sylla,
a member of the dance faculty at Greenfield Community College,
throughout the United States, Africa, Brazil, and Haiti.
The Fall Faculty Dance Concert promises to bring diversity,
high aesthetic values, and a variety of perspectives-all
in one night.
For tickets, call the
Mendenhall box office at 413-585-ARTS (2787).