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Wesleyan University's Center For The Arts Announces Highlights Of 2020 Fall Season

Wesleyan University has announced virtual performances, artist talks, workshops, video screenings, a sculpture, film, and virtual studio tour.

Wesleyan University's Center For The Arts Announces Highlights Of 2020 Fall Season

Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts announces the highlights of their 2020 fall season, including virtual performances, artist talks, workshops, video screenings, a sculpture, film, and virtual studio tour.

"We are proud to share a preview of our fall season, and announce that all virtual activities open to the general public are free of charge," said Jennifer Calienes, Interim Director of the Center for the Arts. "We look forward to the day we can all return together in person on the Wesleyan campus."

"We are thrilled to present a robust virtual performing arts season that centers around visionary artists whose work engages necessary and urgent conversation around civic activism, racial and social justice, labor and class, the upcoming election, the pandemic, and Black Lives Matter," said Fiona Coffey, Associate Director for Programming and Performing Arts. "Coming from music, dance, theater, and interdisciplinary creative practices, these artists offer intimate and powerful entry points for our students and wider audiences to explore the historic and rapidly changing environment we find ourselves in today."

"We're excited to share the upcoming exhibition, 'A SCULPTURE, A FILM & SIX VIDEOS,' which has been in the works for some time," said Benjamin Chaffee, Associate Director of Visual Arts. "The show feels even more relevant today as our experience of ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us is increasingly mediated by projections and through screens. In the era of a global pandemic and the global response to racial uprisings in the U.S., these artists present possibilities for how to organize time--from broadening the scope of the present to collapsing it with the past. This includes encountering death, and the beliefs we engage to build an image of the future."

Reservations for fall events at the Center for the Arts will be available starting Friday, August 28, 2020 online at Programs, artists, and dates are subject to change without notice.

Performing Arts Series

The tenth annual Performing Arts Series at the Center for the Arts features a wide array of world-class musicians, cutting-edge choreography, and groundbreaking theater performances and discussions.

"Kristina Wong for Public Office"

Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 7pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Written and performed by Kristina Wong
Directed and dramaturgy by Diana Wyenn
Devised by Kristina Wong and Diana Wyenn
Sound by Mark McClain Wilson
Scenic, costumes, and props by Kristina Wong

Performance artist, comedian, and writer Kristina Wong's raucous work "Kristina Wong for Public Office" (2018) crosses the aesthetics of campaign rallies, church revivals, and solo theater shows to tell the story of what it means to run for local office, the history of voting, and the impact artists can have in an attempt to counter-hijack our democracy. The piece will comment on the real anxiety of the United States in a live broadcast from the artist's home. Is there actually a difference between performance art and politics?

Followed by a candidate "Meet and Greet" with the artist.

Co-presented by Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and the University of Massachusetts Amherst Fine Arts Center.

"Kristina Wong for Public Office" has been supported by a 2019 Center Theater Group Sherwood Award and a 2018 City of Los Angeles Career Artist Fellowship.

This production contains mature or sensitive content and may not be advisable for all audiences.

Noontime Talk with Kristina Wong

Friday, September 11, 2020 at Noon
FREE! For Wesleyan students. RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Wesleyan students join performance artist, comedian, and writer Kristina Wong for an open conversation about her career in theater.

Wills Glasspiegel and Brandon Calhoun: Footwork On Film

Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 7:00pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Dance filmmakers Brandon Calhoun and Wills Glasspiegel have been documenting the art and history of Chicago footwork--an improvisational, competitive style that encompasses music and dance--for the last decade, from the "Windy City" to Japan. The directing, writing, and editing duo will share dynamic films from their archive that explore the culture and rise of the intergenerational, community-based artform, which had traditionally been taught and passed down through clubs and house parties.

Screening will be followed by a post-show discussion with the artists.

The films contain mature or sensitive content and may not be advisable for all audiences.

The Era Footwork Crew: Dance Workshop/Lab Session and Conversation with 860MVMNT

Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 7pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Pioneers of the battle dance known as Chicago footwork since 2014, The Era Footwork Crew will teach the basics of the style to dancers of all backgrounds and experience levels. This virtual lab session includes introductions to the cultural history and meaning of the style with a focus on improvisation and teaching students to use the basics to find their own style within the form.

The dance workshop will be followed by a conversation with Hartford-based street dance collective 860MVMNT directed by Jolet Creary, an alumna of The School at Jacob's Pillow, exploring differences in regional styles of dance and how a community's culture gives rise to dance forms. Other panel particpants will include Pete Boggie and Tyler Brown.

860MVMNT is the fall Dance Artist in Residence at the University of Saint Joseph, where they are developing a work in response to COVID-19/Black Lives Matter which will premiere in December 2020 at the Autorino Center for the Arts in West Hartford.

Kristina Wong: "Sweatshop Overlord"

Monday, October 5, 2020 at 7pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Written and performed by the Auntie Sewing Squad

Global crises require innovation. In a new show born from the COVID-19 pandemic, comedian and writer Kristina Wong details her trajectory from out-of-work performance artist to "Sweatshop Overlord" (2020) of a homemade face mask empire, deploying 800 Facebook volunteers--the Auntie Sewing Squad--to make and deliver more than 70,000 masks to at-risk communities while in quarantine. The work re-examines the significance of Asian American women and women of color performing this historically gendered and racialized invisible labor.

Followed by a moderated conversation with the artist.

Noontime Talk with Kristina Wong: Identity, Politics, Comedy, and Activism

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at Noon
FREE! For Wesleyan students. RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Wesleyan students join performance artist and writer Kristina Wong for a discussion about making solo work and addressing social and racial justice issues through the use of comedy and parody.

Asian American and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students will talk candidly with Wong about her experience as a Chinese American female artist who makes work squarely at the intersection of identity and politics--all with an eye towards fixing what's broken in our country.

Using scathing wit, raunchy humor, and fierce commentary, Wong's two-decade career has spanned fringe performance art (the fake mail order bride site that launched her career) to major social activism. She focuses on issues and realities specific to the Asian American population, particularly women within that community.

The Era Footwork Crew: "Footwork Saves Lives" Panel Discussion

Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 7pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

The Era Footwork Crew co-founder, dancer, and activist Jamal "Litebulb" Oliver; writer, director, and editor Wills Glasspiegel; and dance coach Shkunna Stewart will discuss their work with the non-profit Open the Circle, whose programs have aimed to make space in the tightly-knit circles of power and resources in society for youth in divested communities on the South Side of Chicago since 2017, building relationships across segregated divides. Moderated by Associate Professor of Dance and Director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life Katja Kolcio.

Engage2020 Speaker Series: Kristina Wong

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at 6pm

Performance artist, comedian, and writer Kristina Wong will discuss her racial, political, and community justice work during this 90 minute talk as part of the Wesleyan Engage 2020 (E2020) initiative, a comprehensive University effort to support student learning via civic engagement and liberal arts education.

For more information about E2020, please visit

The Art of Listening: A Conversation with Laurie Anderson

Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 7pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Writer, director, visual artist, and vocalist Laurie Anderson discusses the art of listening, including the intimate conversations she had as part of "Party in the Bardo," which she hosted on WESU Middletown 88.1FM, asking questions, exploring, and seeking to understand the world. What is needed from listeners these days--artistically, politically, and globally? How do different media affect how people listen and communicate with each other?

"Party in the Bardo" was created and hosted by Laurie Anderson as part of her 2019-2020 artist residence at Wesleyan University, and is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Philip J. '71 and Lynn Rauch Fund for Innovation, with support from Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and WESU Middletown 88.1 FM.

Eiko Otake: Virtual Studio Tour and Conversation

Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 7pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

A conversation and tour of the Virtual Studio of Center for the Arts Virtual Artist-in-Residence Eiko Otake. Otake will be joined by collaborators DonChristian Jones '12 and Iris McCloughan '10.

Invited by the Center for the Arts, Eiko started work on her virtual creative residency in March 2020. Her Virtual Studio is where she posts her new creations, dialogues, and reflections. The studio also includes her work with collaborators and their voices. In working at her Virtual Studio, Eiko says she is no longer content being just a dancer/choreographer. From the studio, she observes and reaches out to the world, the world full of movements-- social, political, natural, and emotional.

If you can, please check her website and view some works before joining this event, so you can have some questions and reflections to offer, as the artists would love to hear your thoughts. Participants will be hearing from artists and from each other.

44th annual Navaratri Festival

Navaratri, one of India's major festival celebrations, is a time to see family and friends, enjoy music and dance, and seek blessings for new endeavors. Wesleyan's 44th annual festival celebrates traditional Indian music and dance. For more information, please visit

Presented by the Center for the Arts, Music Department, and Dance Department, with leadership support from the Madhu Reddy Endowed Fund for Indian Music and Dance at Wesleyan University, and additional support from the Jon B. Higgins Memorial Fund.

A Conversation with Ananya Chatterjea and Hari Krishnan: Rethinking "Navaratri"

Friday, October 2, 2020 at 7pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Chair of the Dance Department and Professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Hari Krishnan will speak with Ananya Chatterjea, Artistic Director of the contemporary Indian dance company Ananya Dance Theatre in Minneapolis, about co-option of long-practiced culturally-specific forms by the current Hindu fundamentalist state. The pair will critique the violences--of caste, class, gender, race, and religion--that have become attached to their dance practice, seeing the world through the lens of the oppressed.

In the Galleries

Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery
Benjamin Chaffee, Associate Director of Visual Arts
Tuesday through Sunday, Noon-5pm


Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Main Gallery
Tuesday, September 8 through Sunday, November 22, 2020
FREE! Gallery open to Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff.

"A SCULPTURE, A FILM & SIX VIDEOS" is an exhibition of a sculpture, a film, and a survey of six recent large-scale video works presented in a nontraditional, temporal framework. Nestled into a custom-built atrium in the gallery, Peter Fischli and David Weiss' "Son et Lumiere (Le Rayon Vert)" acts as the pivot or fulcrum for the entire exhibition, the rotating kinetic sculpture around which everything else revolves. As the videos will not be seen in the same place at the same time, they will exist in relation to each other only through memory, engaging one of the fundamental properties of the moving image in the structure of the exhibition itself. Artists include Trisha Baga, Renée Green '81, Arthur Jafa, Stanya Kahn, Karrabing Film Collective, and Charlotte Prodger.

The video works address temporal continuities and discontinuities. They connect a deep mystical time to the present tense, visualize cycles, and reach into the future for the potential it may hold for transformation. Referenced in the subtitle of the sculpture, the green ray is a naturally-occurring phenomenon, a flash of green light crossing the sky after the sun has set. In her collected writings, artist Tacita Dean explains that "looking for the green ray became about the act of looking itself, about faith and belief in what you see." Dean's 16mm film, "The Green Ray" (2001), will be screened in the gallery as an event rather than a film installation as it has typically been exhibited. The green ray grounds the temporal framework of the exhibition itself and the specificity of media's relation to time, delineating difference of time in sculpture, in video, in film, in performance, in event, in exhibition.

A dedicated website for the exhibition, launching in September 2020, will feature additional screenings, performances, workshops, and artist talks.

Related Events

Performance by Tosh Balco (aka boychild)
Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 2pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Zürich-based performance artist Tosh Basco (aka boychild) will perform virtually in conjunction with the exhibition "A SCULPTURE, A FILM & SIX VIDEOS." This performance is part of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance's Performing Artist Case Studies, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Video Screenings

Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery
FREE! Gallery open to Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff.

Renée Green '81 - "Americas: Veritas"
Tuesday, September 8 through Saturday, September 19, 2020

Karrabing Film Collective - "The Mermaids or Aiden in Wonderland"
Sunday, September 20 through Friday, October 2, 2020

Trisha Baga - "Winters Spring"
Saturday, October 3 through Thursday, October 15, 2020.

Stanya Kahn - "Stand in the Stream"
Friday, October 16 through Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Arthur Jafa - "APEX"
Thursday, October 29 through Sunday, November 8, 2020

Charlotte Prodger - "BRIDGIT"
Tuesday, November 10 through Sunday, November 22, 2020

Theater Department


Friday, October 16 through Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 5:30pm
Center for the Arts Courtyard
FREE! For Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff. RSVP required.

Performance start time may vary and will be communicated after registering for event.

Rain dates: Friday, October 23 through Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 5:30pm

"Things that don't normally belong together-like a blood cell and memory, a bacteria and a longing-are trying to come together under my skin."

An open-air, interactive, socially-distanced performance brings the audience directly into the research and experiments of a group of people who are trying to identify a mysterious condition, known only as "Slabber." A slabber is the machine in soapmaking factories that cuts soap into slabs. This performance asks the Wesleyan community to consider notions of social and physical contamination, and whether it's possible to come close to someone else without ever leaving your chair. Originally created by the interdisciplinary theater duo PearlDamour, the work will be re-devised by a Wesleyan ensemble for the current socio-political moment.

Directed by Assistant Professor of Theater Katie Pearl.

Thesis Theater Production: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"

Thursday, December 10 through Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 8pm

Directed by Lauren Stock '21

Simon Stephens's play based on the book by Mark Haddon, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" (2012) will be streamed online. The project focuses on physical touch in public spaces and the ways in which it does or does not allow those with physical and/or neurological divergences to thrive in contemporary societies. This work also centers on which bodies are included in urban and artistic spaces and how we can make theater and performance art that supports and includes people of all abilities on our stages, in our designs, and in our audiences.

Presented in partial fulfillment for Honors in Theater.

Dance Department

Fall Faculty Dance Virtual Concert

Saturday, October 31, 2020 at 8pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

An engaging virtual evening of riveting works by Visiting Associate Professor of Dance Doug Elkins and Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Maho Ishiguro Ph.D. '18, joined by other Wesleyan Dance Department visiting artists for extraordinary conversations, interviews, recordings, and performances.

Music Department

West African Drumming and Dance Concert

Friday, December 4, 2020 at 8pm

An invigorating virtual performance filled with the rhythms of West Africa, featuring Assistant Professor of Music John Dankwa and Associate Professor of Dance Iddi Saaka, joined by students in West African music and dance classes. This event will be a presentation of pre-recorded performance video.

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