Five College Consortium

Five College Dance Department

Carina Ho (SC '09) awarded a Fulbright Fellowship

[Carina Ho AXIS]Carina Ho (SC '09) has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to promote access to dance for people with disabilities in Uruguay. 

After graduating from Smith with a BA in Economics Carina moved out to San Francisco to begin a career in finance. While developing her career over the next few years she continued to explore her lifelong love for dance by performing with local choreographers and companies. In 2014 she was rear-ended by a truck while driving on the highway, which left her paralyzed from the chest down. While she was recovering, a dancer friend introduced her to Judith Smith, the artistic director of AXIS Dance Company, a professional physically integrated dance company based in Oakland, CA. She began as an apprentice in February 2016 and was hired as a full-time company member in January 2017. Carina says, "This is the last job in the world I thought I would have after learning that I would be using a wheelchair for the rest of my life, but I am very grateful and excited to have it".

Carina will be teaching and creating site-specific community works as a guest artist at La Escuela Franklin Roosevelt, a school for disabled youths in Montevideo, Uruguay. Integrated or inclusive dance is dance that includes people both with and without disabilities, and was initially developed by artists at companies including AXIS and CanDoCo in the US and UK. Her project goal is to deepen her understanding of how artists and educators in countries where the introduction of integrated dance was more recent are influencing the discourse surrounding inclusivity of people with disabilities in the arts. 

Paul Arslanian's Jazz Workshop Receives NEPR 2017 Arts and Humanities Award

[Paul Arslanian's Jazz Workshop Receives NEPR 2017 Arts and Humanities Award]Paul Arslanian, (Accompanist for Dance; Analysis of Music from a Dancer's Perspective; Lecturer at Umass) and Northampton Jazz Workshop received NEPR 2017 Arts and Humanities Award. 

Paul is a professional pianist, composer, and dance accompanist. In San Francisco during the 1970s, he led his own jazz and Latin ensembles, was composer and pianist for Bishop Norman Williams, recorded with such notables as Pepper Adams, Pharaoh Sanders, Dave Liebman, Woody Shaw, and Bill Summers, and backed up Freddy Hubbard and Terri Gibbs. In 1979, Paul co-founded the Jazz Tap Ensemble, and as music director, worked with Honi Coles, Foster Johnson, Cookie Cook, Eddie Brown, Harold and Fayard Nicholas, and many other tap greats. Since relocating to the East in 1984, Paul has continued and expanded his musical explorations. He has been pianist for the Archie Shepp Quartet, and released a recording entitled, It's The Feeling That Counts. Paul has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as music director for numerous productions, including Dance Umbrella's Fascinating Rhythms tour which featured Savion Glover and Jimmy Slyde.

Thanks to the Northampton Jazz Workshop, the Pioneer Valley has been swinging on Tuesday nights for the past seven years. The Workshop provides an important context for fostering community around jazz performance, and has galvanized area fans. Pianist Paul Arslanian and the late bassist Dave Shapiro satisfied a long overdue need in local jazz circles when they established the Workshop in 2010 at Green Street Café. Each week since then, the Green Street Trio, which includes Arslanian, bassist George Kaye, and drummer Jon Fisher, invites a guest soloist to join them for a one-hour set that mixes jazz standards and originals, and then the bandstand opens up for an organized jam session. At night’s end, the featured soloist returns to play with the assembled players on stage. The music is free for all, and the house (since 2015, the City Sports Grille) is packed every week. Scores of college students from the Five Colleges and beyond come to the club throughout the year for a chance to play their instruments or sing. It’s the spirit of this endeavor and its ongoing success that we honor with the Arts & Humanities Award.

Smith College Guest Artist Ephrat Asherie wins 2016 Bessie Award

[Ephrat Asherie]Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie, a fall 2016 guest artist with the Smith College Department of Dance, who is choreographing a dance featuring a cast of both Smith and UMass dancers for the Smith Fall Faculty Dance Concert on November 17-19 was awarded a 2016 New York Dance and Performance Award (known as a "Bessie Award") for Outstanding Performer for her body of work.

From the Bessie Awards website about why Ephrat deserves this honor:  For a presence and a skill that is immediate and unmistakable, explosive and captivating. For her vibrant contributions to the works of Michelle Dorrance, Doug Elkins, Rennie Harris, Bill Irwin, Cori Olinghouse, Gus Solomons jr, and others.

View a preview of the dance that Ephrat is creating for FCDD dancers here. 

FCDD Artists Awarded 2016 MCC Choreography Fellowships

The Massachusetts Cultural Council recently announced the 2016 MCC Artist Fellowship awards in Choreography. Four artists will receive fellowships of $12,000, and five artists will receive $1,000 finalist awards. 

All four of the fellowship awardees have strong ties to the FCDD:

  • Deborah A. Goffe is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Hampshire College, and the founder of collaborative dance theater company Scapegoat Garden.
  • Candice Salyers (SC MFA '03) will be a full-time Visiting Artist at Mount Holyoke College during 2016-17.
  • Sara L. Smith (HC '95) is an interdisciplinary choreographer, the editor of KINEBAGOand an Arts and Humanities Librarian at Amherst College. She has also taught seminars in costume design for FCDD students.
  • Dahlia Nayar has taught Indian classical dance at Smith College.

Three of the five finalists are also an important part of the FCDD community:

The MCC Artist Fellowship awards are anonymously judged, based solely on the artistic quality and creative ability of the work submitted. Applications were open to all eligible Massachusetts artists. 

Congratulations to all of the awardees! We are proud of how well you represent the FCDD!

See a full list of this year’s fellows and finalists.

[Paul Dennis in Deborah A. Goffe's BE'SPOKE(n). Photo by Jim Coleman.]Paul Dennis in Deborah A. Goffe's BE'SPOKE(n) at the 2016 FCDD Faculty Concert. Photo by Jim Coleman.

Candice Salyers in Six Reasons Why My Dance Card Isn't Full. Photo by Jim Coleman.Candice Salyers in her solo Six Reasons Why My Dance Card Isn't Full at Mount Holyoke College Fall Dance 2015. Photo by Jim Coleman.

FCDD artists celebrate Center for New Americans with art and culture

[Immigrant Voices: A Celebration of Arts]

Immigrant Voices: A Celebration of Arts event took place on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls. FCDD artists Sekou Sylla and Marilyn Sylla were among many singers, dancers and poets in the sold-out show that celebrated arts and culture for the Center for New Americans. 

The Center for New Americans is "a community-based, non-profit adult education center that provides the under-served immigrant, refugee and migrant communities of Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley with education and resources to learn English, become involved community members and obtain tools necessary to maintain economic independence and stability."

Read more about this event on the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

FCDD Alumni Present Work Through Loculus Performance

On Friday, February 17th 2016, the Loculus Performance Collective presented "Solo," a series of performances at the Florence Civic Center. Loculus Collective includes FCDD alumni Hayley-Jane Blackstone, Olana Flynn, Stephanie Jacco, Molly McBride, Madison Palffy, and Aliza Persing. It was founded in the summer of 2015 after Loculus recieved a grant from the Northampton Arts Council. Their work includes seasonal performances and journals that explore performance and choreogrpahy in Western Massachusetts.

Paradise Press published an online article about the event.

More information about Loculus here.

Paul Dennis's work with Huntington's disease

[Paul Dennis photo]

In addition to his work as a performer, choreographer, Assistant Professor at UMass Amherst, and Associate Director of the White Mountains Summer Dance Festival at Sarah Lawrence College, Paul Dennis is dedicated to bringing dance to Huntington's disease patients. Mass Live features FCDD Professor Paul Dennis's work with dance and Huntington's disease in an article published March 21, 2016. Since 2012 Paul brings dance to Huntington's disease patients at Tewksbury Hospital because he believes that dance can help with overall emotional and physical well being of the patients. He visits the hospital in weekly sessions and incorporates Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals in his work.

As the Mass Live article states, Paul's work is important because there are no known studies researching the effect of practiced movement elements on the slowing down of Huntington's disease movement, cognitive and emotional disorders.

Click here to read more about Paul's inspiring work with Huntington's disease.

Above: photo by Jim Coleman

Jake Meginsky's New Album featured on WIRE Magazine

[Jake Meginsky photo]

FCDD Electronic Musician, Percussionist and Composer Jake Meginsky's new Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes was released by NNA Tapes on March 18th, 2016. The new album was recently featured on the WIRE Magazine, where Nick Cain wrote, “the album uses little more than a couple of sounds, extracting often head spinning complexity from a minimum of means.” Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes was recently listed in FACT Magazine’s top 25 albums of 2016

Music critic David Keenan called Meginsky’s 2014 solo record, L’appel Du Vide, “a hallucinatory electro percussion masterpiece”  Art In America Magazine says, “Meginsky’s digital concrète takes percussion to outer extremes.” 

Meginsky frequently collaborates with choreographers and has worked with Cori Olinghouse, Paul Matteson, Jen Nugent, Susan Sgorbati, Katie Martin, and Nora Chipaumire. He has a longstanding artistic relationship with Gwen Welliver , and recently composed the score for her new work, “What a Horse”.  In 2017, Meginsky and Welliver will debut a new work at the Gibney in NYC. His sound installations have been shown internationally including CONTEXT ART in Miami, Duolun Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai, CONTEXT ART in New York, The Mead Art Museum, Usdan Gallery, the Beijing Today Museum, APE Gallery and the Jinse Gallery in Chongqing.

His recordings can be found on NNA (Burlington, VT), Mantile (London, UK), Second Sleep (Milan, Italy), Feeding Tube Records (Northampton, MA), Rel Records (Providence, RI), Open Mouth Records (Northampton, MA), Hells Half Halo (Seattle, WA), Wooden Finger Records (Belgium), Ultra Eczema Records (Belgium), and Ecstatic Peace Records (Northampton, MA). He recently remixed Body/Head’s (Kim Gordon & Bill Nace) “Last Mistress” for Matador Records (NYC).


American College Dance Association 2016 Results

The American College Dance Association (ACDA) New England Conference was held at Springfield College February 11-14, 2016. FCDD students participated in dozens of classes and lectures, and performed in concerts adjudicated by distinguished artists Anjali Austin, Jim Lepore, and Edisa Weeks.

Dances from Hampshire College and UMass Amherst represent two of the ten dances that were selected by the adjudicators to perform in the Gala Concert on Sunday, February 14.

Ellen Oliver (HC '16). Photo by Jim Coleman

Ellen Oliver (HC '16) premiered Words Quicksanded, a solo that Ellen choreographed and performed as part of her upcoming thesis dance concert. Ellen draws inspiration from the artistic process and the methods of decision making in the dance studio. Her thesis Hollow Hands is a kinesthetic and visual journey through the dream world and the waking world as the stage is flooded with red props, video projection and text. This is her seventh collaboration with original music by Dylan Eldredge Fitzwater (HC '16). Ellen has collaborated at San Francisco’s Red Poppy Art House in Teobi’s Dreaming, OceA Dance in Martha’s Vineyard, and Tiny Crush Society. She has screened her dance films at Movies By Movers in North Carolina, Dance Shorts College Film Festival in Florida, and the Five College Film Festival. Most recently, Ellen performed her work In Layers/La Cebolla at Hampshire College Family and Friends Concert and the Sixth Annual Festival de las Artes in Havana, Cuba with students from the Universidad de las Artes, Cuba. Her studies at Hampshire include dance and Latin American Studies. Ellen will be an Artist Resident in Bearnstow’s Young Artist Residency 2016 after she graduates. Don't miss her thesis concert on March 24-26!

Tom Vacanti by John Solem

UMass Assistant Professor of Dance Thomas (Tom) Vacanti premiered Interludium, a duet performed by Céline Barreau (MHC '16) and Kelsey Saulnier (UMass '18), set to music by Santiago de Murcia and Billy Cowie. The piece explores the emptiness and fullness of the exterior persona, in relation to both the musical score and the words of poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Tom is continuing his research working with techniques and theories developed by Alexandre Munz in his choreographic system “Graphisiology”—a sensorial approach to movement and gesture in conjunction with the volume of space and body. He is fascinated with small gestures and how the dancer can do less, not more in performance- and inviting the audience to closely observe the fine details of the action onstage. ¡Ay! by Federico Garcia Lorca is a very passionate poem that inspired Tom to make “less” through chroegraphy and distill the meaning of the poem into very small, fine gestures. Adjudicators described Interludium as a duet that “reveals an interplay of arms that separate and recombine like strands of spiraling DNA. The delicate, tensile, expressivity of the performers encourages the viewer to lean in and pay attention.”

Interludium has been chosen as the first alternate for the 2016 National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., along with finalists from Dean College and the University of Hartford/Hartt School. Tom presented his work Arena last year at the International Global Theater Conference in Austria, and a solo work Proverb at the Peridance APAP Showcase in NYC in January 2016. Don’t miss Interludium at the FCDD Faculty Concert on March 3-5 at Mount Holyoke College.

Excerpts from the tech rehearsal of Interludium