Middlebury College arts season features dynamic stage artists, returning favorites, exhibitions and award-winning films
MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Middlebury College’s arts community celebrates newness this season in many forms: the dedication of the campus’ new library, renovations to its museum, fresh new performers in its arts lineup, and new material by some old favorites.
A highlight of the season comes in early October with the arrival of Project Bandaloop to help mark the library’s dedication and opening. This renowned dance company takes 3-D to new heights-literally-with performances on the new library building Oct. 8-10. Project Bandaloop will also host master classes, lectures, films and special climbing instruction.
Choreographer, dancer and environmental activist Amelia Rudolph founded Project Bandaloop in 1991. The company’s dancers suspend themselves from buildings, cliffs and mountains throughout the world to create dances and films that honor nature and the human spirit. Project Bandaloop’s residency at Middlebury features the creation of site-specific vertical dances, directed by Rudolph and performed on the eastern wall of Middlebury College’s new library. These dances involve six performers who will use climbing and rigging to create spectacular aerial works.
The company’s visit to the College begins Oct. 4 with films, outdoor rehearsals, and a lecture by Rudolph. It concludes with a two-day mini-residency Oct. 11-12. In between there are classes on contemporary dance, ballet, creative process and an aerial workshop for dancers. Events on Oct. 12 include a duet performed by Mark Stuver, a member of the Middlebury College class of 1998, and fellow Project Bandaloop dancer Rachael Lincoln. All of the Oct. 4-12 events are free and open to the public.
Performing Arts Series
Fans of the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series will be happy to see some favorites in the lineup for 2004-2005. Familiar to Middlebury audiences for two decades, the Emerson String Quartet performs Mozart, Britten and Beethoven in a rare free concert Sept. 18. West Africa’s musician-storyteller Mamadou Diabate and his ensemble, who debuted at Middlebury last year, return Sept. 24 with their unique instruments and signature native sound fused with American jazz and blues. The always energetic and imaginative Cyrus Chestnut Trio presents an evening of jazz Oct. 22.
Pianist Paul Lewis also returns to Middlebury to kick off an unprecedented series of eight recitals to span several seasons in which he will perform all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas. The first installment is Feb. 18.
In another free concert, Middlebury welcomes The Hilliard Ensemble April 26. One of the finest vocal chamber music groups today, the ensemble plans selections by Bach and contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.
Student choreography takes center stage Dec. 3-4 in “Dancing Now: The Fall Dance Concert featuring sara Stranovsky ‘05.” The first part of this annual presentation is “The Newcomer’s Piece,” choreographed by Ellen Smith, a member of the Middlebury class of 2005. In the second half, Stranovsky uses movement, text and vocals to explore identity and self-expression. Known for her work with the College’s Dance Company of Middlebury and as a singer with the student band Sharipoons Funk Brigade, Stranovsky weaves her own poetry into this sensitive and fresh look at human nature.
Smith is showcased again April 22-23 with the Dance Company of Middlebury’s presentation, “The Cuba Project 2005.” Smith lends her original choreography to this celebration of the art and dance of Cuba and of the United States. Other members of the company, under the direction of Middlebury College dance faculty member Penny Campbell, contribute dances to the concert, which they also hope to perform in Cuba during the spring.
The Department of Theatre and Dance and the Performing Arts Series together present a new stage play by Middlebury College’s Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing Jay Parini. “An American Revolution,” performed by Bennington’s Oldcastle Theatre Company Sept. 17, is a black comedy set in the Green Mountains. It tells the story of a dysfunctional family’s time in a log cabin beset with riffs on philosophy, religion, romance and politics-all under the specter of the family’s recently deceased mother.
Taking place on Nov. 11-13, “The Melting Pot” is part of the celebration of Middlebury College Hillel’s Jubilee Year, the 350th anniversary of Jewish immigrants in North America, and the Silberman Symposium in Jewish Studies. Israel Zangwill’s 1908 play about immigrants uses vignettes of a Jewish household to update the story of Romeo and Juliet by asserting that America is a new country with no room for old hatreds.
On Jan. 20-22, the theatre department presents “An Experiment with an Air Pump” by Shelagh Stephenson as the centerpiece of a festival on the arts and sciences. With science as its backdrop, the story spans 200 years in one home, from 1799 with experiments and romance to 1999 when the house itself reveals a 200-year-old dark secret.
September is a busy month at the Middlebury College Museum of Art where exhibitions are either opening or reopening following building renovations. On Sept. 14, “Rodin: In His Own Words, Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation” opens in the Christian A. Johnson Gallery with approximately 35 bronzes including casts of famous works such as “The Head of Balzac” and “The Thinker.” Letters, quotations and biographies of Auguste Rodin offer a rare view into his life, work and the artistic values of his day.
At a 4:30 p.m. reception on Sept. 14, Richard Saunders, director of the museum, and John M. Hunisak, professor of history of art and architecture, will introduce the exhibition.
A new exhibition in the museum’s ongoing Art Now series also opens Sept. 14 in the Overbrook Gallery. The latest installment features the work of American sculptor Joel Shapiro.
Also on Sept. 14, “Vermont in 1904: A Photographic Portrait” opens in the Upper Gallery featuring the work of amateur photographer Adolph B. Lane, whose images of early 20th-century Vermont include scenes from Barre, Lake Champlain and Camels Hump during a time of significant social and physical change in Vermont’s history. Diana S. Harya, a 2004 Middlebury graduate, and senior Marissa L. Williamson curated the exhibition with assistance from other students enrolled in the spring 2003 course “Art Museums: Theory and Practice.”
All three exhibitions run through Dec. 5.
On Jan. 21, “Deceits and Fantasies: Contemporary Photography and the Garden” opens in the Christian A. Johnson Gallery with an extraordinary collection of photos by 16 American and European artists. Among the nearly 70 images presented are depictions of Claude Monet’s Giverny along with gardens in Scotland, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and the U.S. Named after a phrase from a 13th-century French poem, “The Romance of the Rose,” the exhibition runs through April 17.
Approximately 20 independent, award-winning films from the U.S. and at least 10 other countries are scheduled for this season’s Hirschfield Film/Video Series. The films vary from “My Architect: A Son’s Journey,” on Oct. 23, which tells the story of visionary architect Louis Kahn’s son’s quest to reconnect with his father, to “Dogville,” on Nov. 20, which stars Nicole Kidman on the run from gangsters in an experimental work by Danish director Lars von Trier. The series also includes such films as “Zatôichi,” on April 30, which serves up sizzling fight scenes with comic twists and was the winner of five Japanese Academy Awards.
Fresh from winning the 2003 Golden Globe Award for best foreign language film, “Osama” is the first film to come out of Afghanistan in seven years, telling the story of a young girl forced to enter school as a boy. “Osama” plays Dec. 11. On Feb. 19, the 2003 Academy Award-winner for best documentary, “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara,” presents an interview with the former secretary of defense mixed with World War II and Vietnam film clips.
Films in the series are shown free twice on Saturdays-once at 3 p.m. and again at 8 p.m.-in Dana Auditorium in Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125).
Tickets, Program and Dinner Information
Performing Arts Series tickets are $12 for regular admission, $10 for seniors. Department events are $5 for regular admission, $4 for seniors. Many events are also free. Pre-performance dinners for select engagements are held at Rehearsals Cafe in the Center for the Arts.
Information; dinner reservations; tickets for all music, theatre and dance performances; a free color 2004-2005 Middlebury College arts calendar and the free quarterly newsletter, “Arts at Middlebury College,” are all available through the College’s box office at 802-443-6433. Patrons may visit the Center for the Arts on the Internet at www.middlebury.edu/arts to order tickets, view the electronic edition of the arts calendar or newsletter, or sign up for Middlebury College Arts Mail-an electronic information service that delivers e-mail updates on arts and cultural events.
Museum exhibition information is available by calling 802-443-5007 or visiting the museum’s Web site at www.middlebury.edu/museum. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Museum admission is free.
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