Five College Dance Appoints New Director

Five College Dance is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Alexandra Ripp as its Director. The new position of Director coincides with the 40th year of operation of Five College Dance and marks the beginning of a new installment in its history of strategic collaboration and innovation in higher education. 

Dr. Ripp comes to Five College Dance from Carolina Performing Arts, at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow. She holds a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama. This appointment was made possible through the support of the Five College Inc. Board of Directors and the efforts of its current Executive Director, Sarah Pfatteicher, and former Executive Director, Neal Abraham. 

Alexandria Ripp photo resizedDr. Alexandra Ripp is the DisTIL (Discovery Through Iterative Learning) Postdoctoral Fellow at Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she oversees collaborative, long-term projects between visiting artists and UNC faculty, students, and local community. She also initiated and is overseeing The Commons at CPA, an arts criticism-focused residency program and performance festival for locally based performing artists, which will launch in May 2019. She has served as co-Associate Editor at Theater magazine and as production dramaturg at both the Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theater. She is a lecturer in American Studies at UNC, and teaches about performance's relation to site, audience, and context, in collaboration with the local performance laboratory Culture Mill. 

Over the course of four seasons, Dr. Ripp produced and then curated the Ideas series of lectures, panels, and symposia at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven. CT.  She has served as production dramaturg at both the Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theater.  She holds an MFA and DFA from the Yale School of Drama in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, where she was a two-time winner of the John W. Gassner Award for Criticism. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Princeton University, where she majored in Spanish and minored in Theater and Dance and Latin American Studies.

Dr. Ripp's area of speciality, and the topic of her 2017 dissertation, is contemporary Chilean performance and post-dictatorship memory politics. She has translated five Chilean shows for professional U.S. tours, and her translation of Trinidad González's La reuníon was selected for the 2016 PEN World Voices Festival. Her translations and writing on performance have been published in Theater, PAJ: A Journal of Performing Arts, and Theater Journal and on Fusebox's Written and Spoken platform.

FCDD's Hauser and MacArthur in Bebe Miller's "In a Rhythm" in NYC

[In a Rhythm Cast Photo Credit Robert Altman]On February 21-24 2018 Bebe Miller's  In a Rhythm premiered at New York Live Arts along with new work from Susan Rethorst. Miller's ensemble included Smith College Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Dance Angie Hauser, as well as FCDD Visiting Artist Bronwen MacArthur (SC MFA '16). For more information see reviews from The Village Voice and The New York Times 

Smith College dancers chosen to perform at the Kennedy Center

[where the air is light and clear]Em Papineau (SC '21) and Sofia Engleman (SC '19) have been selected for the 2018 National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. On June 6-9, they will represent Smith College when they perform their dance where the air is light and clear. Em and Sofia are very honored and excited to have been chosen from among the many New England college choreographers participating at the regional festival at Boston University last weekend.

Amherst College Professor Dante Brown featured in Dance Magazine

Dante Brown's Package (revampled) featured dancers in Trump masks. Photo by Ezra Goh, via FacebookIn the wake of Donald Trump's election, choreographers are responding to the impact of his presidency and what it means for them as artists. Amherst College Visiting Assistant Professor Dante Brown and other choreographers are using their art as a platform for political awareness and activism. Read more to see how Dante Brown and fellow artists are using dance to spark conversation about this current political climate in an article in this month's issue of Dance Magazine.

Photo: Dante Brown's Package (revamped) featured dancers in Trump masks. Photo by Ezra Goh, via Facebook

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

"Loculus" Brings Dynamic Performance to Florence

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.