Summer is now behind us, and as students settle into their classes, the arts on campus have boundless opportunities for students to witness live theater, screenings of their favorite films, and beautiful artwork in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Whoever you are on campus, whatever your major is, there is something for everyone this semester to immerse themselves in the arts!
By Sabrina Ladiwala, Arts & Culture Editor
The Film Series is back and its range of films are bound to excite any movie watcher on campus! This semester, Wednesday screenings are back from their pandemic-induced hiatus, joining the Thursday through Saturday screenings. To fill them, a new selection of films was put together by the Film Board in collaboration with other departments.
On Sept. 7, The Film Series had its kickoff event celebrating Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Jeanine Basinger, in their second annual Jeanine Basinger Legacy Series. The event featured a screening of the 1972 film “Cabaret” followed by a Q&A session by alum Sam Wasson ’03 who wrote a biography of its director, Bob Fosse. The film, adapted from the 1966 musical of the same name, tells the story of teacher Brian Roberts and singer Sally Bowles as they navigate the challenges of living as expats in Berlin as the Nazi Party rises to power.
“I think ‘Cabaret’ brings together a lot of Wesleyan ideas,” Associate Professor in the Practice of Film Studies Marc Longenecker explained about how they chose this film.“It’s not just for the film nerds, it’s also for the theater geeks as well, it’s also for the history buffs, it’s even a literary adaptation on top of that.”
The Film Series is also holding some special smaller series this semester in collaboration with other departments and professors on campus. One of which is the Hispanic Film Series, which has been renamed Contemporary Cinema from the Hispanic World. Longenecker explained that they have worked closely with the Romance Languages Department and the Spanish Department to bring films from the Spanish-speaking world to the screen for Hispanic Heritage Month.
The first film of that collection,“Manto de Gemas” or “Robe of Gems,” was screened Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m.. It’s a 2022 Mexican film about three women who get involved in a missing persons case that is connected to organized crime. The Contemporary Cinema from the Hispanic World Series will continue with screenings each Wednesday until Oct. 12.
Another project the Film Series is working on is the South Asian Film Series. Beginning on Oct. 12, there will be a gallery set up in the Rick Nicita Gallery within the Center for Film Studies by Assistant Professor of Film Studies Anuja Jain.
“[It’s a] gallery on Indian cinema and South Asian cinema,” Longenecker said. “Anuja has put together a lot of really interesting posters and ephemera. I know something she’s particularly into are these song books that would be distributed with Indian and Bollywood screenings which have some lyrics in them and are these little keepsakes.”
On Oct. 14, there will be a screening of “Monsoon Wedding” at 7 p.m.. This 2001 film, directed by Mira Nair, shares the story of a father, Lalit Verma, trying to marry off his daughter, Aditi, to Hemant Rai, and all of the messiness that comes with an extravagant, traditional marriage in India. Following the event, there will be a Q&A with the film’s screenwriter, Sabrina Dhawan.
When asked about the film she’s most excited for in the Film Series, Film Board member Hannah Carroll ’23’s face lit up.
“Everyone on the board has their pets, the one that I would say that I had the most of a hand in is ‘Sunset Boulevard.’ It’s an amazing studio-era movie that I think is really approachable, too. That’s something else we’ve tried to do on this calendar and future calendars—make sure we’re playing films from a wide span of time and parts of the world, but also that are good entry points into the genre or into the era of the film.”
Overall, this semester is going to be full of fun, diverse and thought-provoking films from the Film Series. I definitely can’t wait to head to the Goldsmith Family Cinema.
by Ben Togut, Assistant Arts and Culture Editor
Wesleyan’s music department promises a host of exciting events on campus this fall. As sweater weather begins, take a study break and immerse yourself in Wesleyan’s vibrant music scene.
On Sunday, Sept. 17, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Neely Bruce will be conducting “Ten Amendments in Eight Motets” at noon in Olin Memorial Library in celebration of Constitution Day. In “Ten Amendments,” Bruce sets The Bill of Rights to music written in the style of early American composer William Billings. Bruce was inspired to write the piece after going on a walk with composer and close personal friend Henry Brant.
“Brant asked me, out of the blue, ‘Neely, what can we do as composers about the terrible political situation?’” Bruce said.
After briefly pondering the question, Bruce decided to set The First Amendment to music.
“The easiest way to remember a text is to sing it,” Bruce said.“I wanted to set The First Amendment to music so it could be sung by high school choirs and then people would remember it for the rest of their lives.”
After greatly enjoying setting The First Amendment to music, Bruce continued with the project, writing the remainder of “Ten Amendments” in two weeks. Although intended to be performed a cappella, the piece now features flutes, oboes, string quartet, double bass, and harpsichord. Since its composition in 2004, the piece has been performed around the country over 30 times. The performance on Sunday is free and open to the public. All attendants must wear masks per the Center of the Arts COVID-19 Safety Guidelines.
Vocalist and Adjunct Associate Professor of Music B. Balasubrahmaniyan alongside Associate Professor of Music David Nelson will perform in the Vocal Music of South India event at Crowell Concert Hall at 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 30. The performance is part of Wesleyan’s Navratri Festival, an Indian celebration that is a time to see friends and loved ones and appreciate music and dance. Tickets are $8 for Wesleyan students and people under 18 and $10 for Wesleyan staff and alumni.
On Sunday Oct. 9, the West End String Quartet will perform in an event called This Is It! 2.0: The Complete Chamber Music of Neely Bruce – Part II in Crowell Concert Hall at 3:00 p.m.. The quartet, which includes Marianne Vogel and Sarah Washburn on violin, Wesleyan Chamber Music Ensemble Director John Biatowas on viola, and Anne Berry on cello, will play two pieces by Bruce: “Allegro furioso; A String Quartet for Alvin Lucier (String Quartet No.1)” and “A Partita for Roy Lisker (String Quartet No.3).” This new series follows in the footsteps of “This is It,” a set of concerts featuring Bruce’s piano music that ended in 2019. The event is free and open to the public.
By Sabrina Ladiwala, Arts & Culture Editor
This semester the Dance Department has many events planned and several opportunities for students to get involved.
Auditions for the Winter Dance Concert are this Sunday, Sept. 18. The Winter Dance Concert will be on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. in the CFA Theater. It is an opportunity for students to showcase their own choreography in front of the Wesleyan community.
“There’s a class called Choreography Composition, there’s a bunch of us in the class, and we’re all responsible for creating a four- to seven-minute piece,” said Crystal Peña ’24, a dance major. “So on Sunday, we’re holding auditions to recruit dancers for our piece.”
Peña also spoke about the Dance Showcase happening on Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on the Exley patio.
“September 24 is the dance showcase; all the student dance groups, or at least most of them, are going to be performing to recruit other members because soon there’s going to be auditions. The point of the dance showcase is to show people what each group is like so that they know going into auditions, ‘Oh I may want to audition for this group,’” said Peña.
There are many more events planned by the Dance Department, several of which are part of the University’s Navaratri celebration. One such event is the “Kinetic Visualities” Exhibition opening in the Zilkha Gallery on Sept. 29 at 12 p.m.. The exhibition will present art by South Asian Experimental Dance Artists, a group that explores art processes in South Asian bodies. Additionally, the gallery will feature installations by New York-based choreographer Parijat Desai, Bessie Award-winning video and dance artist Meena Murugesan, Los Angeles-based choreographer and performer Lionel Popkin, and founder of Annicha Arts Pramila Vasudevan. The exhibition will be open from Sept. 29 through Oct. 2.
Another Navaratri event put up by the Dance department is Master Class with Sujata Goel: Bollywood Dance – A Globalized Body. This will be an introductory class into Bollywood dance, which is a fusion between both Eastern and Western styles of dance. After a fun warmup, participants will learn a dance medley that will showcase this Bollywood dance from the 1940s through present day. Based in Pennsylvania, Goel graduated from the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts in Madras, India in 2001. From there, she’s gone on to work with many leading dance companies all over the world including the Padmini Chettur Dance Company in India and the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios in Belgium.
This event will be held in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio at 247 Pine Street at 11 a.m. on Oct. 1.
The lineup of dance events is sure to make any dancer and member of the Wesleyan community excited. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get my dancing shoes!
by Ben Togut, Assistant Arts and Culture Editor
The Wesleyan visual arts scene is equally abuzz with thought-provoking events this fall. The opening of “Massive Power Ball,” an exhibit by Karen Xu ’22, will take place on Sept. 21 in the College of East Asian Studies Gallery at Mansfield Freeman Center at 12:00 p.m.. In “Massive Power Ball,” Xu explores her relationship with basketball as someone who regularly played the sport growing up in China. Xu’s multimedia exhibit features printmaking, video, and collage.
“She inquires how basketball can be an arena for the clash and meditation of individual desire and collective force, extending the thrill of the game into her consideration of the dynamics of the China-U.S. relationship and Chinese Communist Party ideals,” according to a description on the Center for the Arts website. The opening of “Massive Power Ball” is a free event. Refreshments will be available after a talk by the curators and a walkthrough of the exhibit.
On Sept. 27, multidisciplinary writer and artist Renee Gladman will hold a free reading of her work in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery at 4:30 p.m.. The reading will be in concert with “THE DREAMS OF SENTENCES,” Gladman’s solo exhibition on display at the gallery through October 16. “THE DREAMS OF SENTENCES” is a cross-genre project where Gladman uses her own drawings as an ekphrastic, generative tool for her writing. Throughout the exhibit, Gladman’s drawings appear alongside the writing they inspired, illustrating the confluence of her artistic practices.
“I had found in drawing a way to think my hand was the core; the shape my hand made was the core, and I knew when I was saying narrative that I wasn’t limiting it to some event happening inside fiction, but rather was trying to get at an energy, a light that threaded all my acts of reading and writing and drawing and seeing into a day, then days,” Gladman explained of the interdisciplinary nature of her artistic practice.
On Oct. 5, artist Nick Raffel will be holding a talk in conjunction with his exhibition “airfoil” in the Zilkha Gallery at 4:30 p.m.. In Raffel’s installation “airfoil,” a custom-made, high-volume, low-speed fan hangs from the ceiling. The exhibition is meant to be viewed from underneath, where gallery visitors can observe the aerodynamic profile of each fan blade. The blade design of the fan was developed by Raffel alongside aeronautical engineer Mark Drela. Made from balsa wood and carbon fiber, the fan is not only fairly light but needs only a third of the horsepower of similar fans on the market. The fan is bidirectional and can pull air up from the floor or push air down through the ceiling, changing functions with the seasons.
“As art, the fan operates as a sign, pointing to the conditions of the gallery space and current administration of its systems,” according to the description on the Center for the Arts website. “The fan also contributes something to aid those systems, and though adding to the energy costs of the building, it also intends to make the internal climactic space more balanced and comfortable. In ‘airfoil,’ Raffel merges a consideration of context with content, bringing utility to sculpture without foregoing its aesthetic qualities.”
That’s a wrap on the many eclectic events happening through the Center for the Arts this semester. Celebrate the start of fall and get cultured at any one of these thrilling exhibits!
Sabrina Ladiwala can be reached at email@example.com.
Ben Togut can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.