Center For the Arts CFA

Connecticut Premiere of "Tari Aceh!" Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra at Wesleyan University February 27

Thursday, February 12, 2015 - Friday, February 27, 2015

Connecticut Premiere of "Tari Aceh!" Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra at Wesleyan University February 27

Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and Dance Department present
Tari Aceh! Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra
Connecticut premiere on Friday, February 27 is part of the group's first United States tour


Middletown, Conn.—The 15th annual Breaking Ground Dance Series presented by Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and Dance Department concludes with the Connecticut premiere of "Tari Aceh!" ("Dance Aceh!"), Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra, on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall, located at 50 Wyllys Avenue on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown. This event is also part of the Performing Arts Series.

The performance by the group of nine female performers from Aceh, Indonesia is part of their first-ever tour of the United States. Their dances, inherited from their ancestors, are stunning in their synchronicity. They include rhythmic  body percussion, and the singing of both Islamic liturgical and folk texts, accompanied by percussion. The dancers are between the ages of 14 and 24, and study at Syiah Kuala University, located in Banda Aceh, the capital of the northern Aceh province on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra. The dances are some of the best illustrations of the trans-cultural blending of Islamic and Indonesian culture. Originally performed by men, the dances were taught to women in the 20th century and in some districts are forbidden.

There will be a pre-performance talk by Wesleyan graduate student Maho Ishiguro and Ari Palawi, Program Development Coordinator at the Center for the Arts at Syiah Kuala University, Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and a Ph.D candidate at Monash University, Australia; at 7:15pm.

There will be a post-performance reception in the lower lobby of Crowell Concert Hall.

There will be a panel discussion, "Expressing and Contesting Indonesia-Islam Encounters in Performing Arts - Dance and Music in Aceh," on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 4:15pm in World Music Hall, located at 40 Wyllys Avenue on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown. Organized and moderated by University Professor of Music Sumarsam, this panel will discuss performing art as a space for expressing Indonesia-Islam encounters. In response to many recent contestations of the value and meaning of these encounters, such as the birth of new laws and their affect on cultural policy, there has been a renewed focus on discourses of representation and identity. In this regard, performing arts in Aceh have become resilient and thriving markers of local and national identity. The panel will discuss these issues through the lenses of history, socio-political contexts, and performing arts as representation of a conscious reconstruction of identity. Ari Palawi, Program Development Coordinator at the Center for the Arts at Syiah Kuala University, Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and a Ph.D candidate at Monash University, Australia, will present the talk "The Aceh Musical Arts in the Context of Local Adat and Worldviews." Rachmi Diyah Larasati, Associate Professor and Director of Dance, Theatre Arts and Dance, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, will present the talk "Crossing the Forest, the Land and the Sea: Performances, Islam and Indigeneity (An Inquiry of Dialectic Presence)." Eka Srimulyani, Lecturer on the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Islamic State University of Ar-Raniry, Banda Aceh Indonesia, and Senior Researcher at the International Centre for Aceh and Indian Ocean Studies, will present the talk "Public Space and Dance in Contemporary Acehnese Society: Artistic Performance and Religious Perspectives Contested." The panel discussion will be followed by an informal presentation of the music and dance of Indonesia. Admission to the panel discussion and informal presentation are free.

Ms. Larasati previously gave the annual Dr. Cynthia Novack Lecture in World Music Hall in May 2013, part of a celebration honoring decades of Javanese dance at Wesleyan including a tribute to Urip Sri Maeny.

There will be a dance workshop open to all experience levels with members of "Tari Aceh!" on Thursday, February 26, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8pm in Fayerweather Beckham Hall, located at 55 Wyllys Avenue on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown. Participants will learn Saman, a popular dance form from Indonesia that combines text, poetry, and movement. The dances feature various forms of body percussion, such as clapping, and synchronized movements that make a group of dancers look as if it is a single being. This is a rare opportunity to learn these dances from the all-female group. Admission to the dance workshop is free.

Admission for the Friday, February 27 performance is $22 for the general public; $19 for senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, and non-Wesleyan students; and $6 for Wesleyan students. Tickets are currently available online at http://www.wesleyan.edu/boxoffice; by phone at (860) 685-3355; or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. Tickets may also be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to the performance, subject to availability. The Center for the Arts accepts cash, checks written to “Wesleyan University,” and all major credit cards. Groups of ten or more may receive a discount – please call (860) 685-3355 for details. No refunds, cancellations, or exchanges. Programs, artists and dates are subject to change without notice.

The United States tour is organized by Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts, The Asia Society, and the Center for the Arts of Syiah Kuala University on the occasion of "Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan." The tour starts Friday, February 20, 2015. Other performances on the tour include the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts (Sunday, February 22, 2015), Asia Society, New York, New York (Saturday, February 28, 2015), and Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts (Thursday, March 5, 2015). Made possible with leadership support from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters: Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Supported by a grant from the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the six New England state arts agencies. Additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

About "Muslim Women's Voices at Wesleyan"
During the 2014-2015 academic year, "Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan" will expand awareness, knowledge, and understanding of Muslim cultures through the lens of performance; exploring the work of extraordinary artists from around the globe, each one bringing a distinct set of personal experiences and embedded in a particular place, society, and cultural tradition. Through this journey, audiences will celebrate the complexity of Muslim women today, and the historical and cultural context from which they have emerged.

"Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan" is part of the Creative Campus Initiative of the Center for the Arts, and is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters: Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement program supports United States-based performing arts presenting organizations interested in building interdisciplinary cross-campus and community collaborations that expand awareness, knowledge, and understanding of Muslim societies.

"Muslim Women's Voices at Wesleyan" is co-sponsored by the Hartford Seminary, the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, and the Pakistani American Association of Connecticut.

For "Muslim Women's Voices at Wesleyan," the Center for the Arts has partnered with Wesleyan's Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life; Center for Community Partnerships; College of Letters; Dance Department; Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; French Studies; Green Street Arts Center; Middle Eastern Studies Certificate Program; Music Department; Muslim Students' Association; Office of Academic Affairs; Office of Equity and Inclusion; Office of Religious and Spiritual Life; Psychology Department Culture and Emotion Lab; R.A.W. (Rap Assembly at Wesleyan); Religion Department; Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the Thomas and Catharine McMahon Fund; South Asia Studies; Theater Department; and Turath House.

The media sponsor of "Muslim Women's Voices at Wesleyan" is WESU 88.1FM.

Upcoming "Muslim Women's Voices at Wesleyan" events include a concert by Omnia Hegazy (Friday, March 27, 2015), and workshop performances of a theater work by Leila Buck '99 (Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18, 2015).

For more information about "Muslim Women's Voices at Wesleyan," please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa/mwv.

About the Breaking Ground Dance Series
The Breaking Ground Dance Series at the Center for the Arts features cutting-edge choreography, world-renowned companies, and companies pushing the boundaries of the art form, and is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts is the only dance presenter in Connecticut to receive support from the National Endowment for the Arts dance program, as well as from Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance.

Past companies from the U.S. and abroad that have been featured on the Breaking Ground Dance Series include Bebe Miller Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Brian Brooks Moving Company, Cathy Weis Projects, Chunky Move, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Compagnie TcheTche, Compagnie Vincent Mantsoe, Dance—The Spirit of Cambodia, David Dorfman & Dan Froot, David Dorfman Dance, Delfos Contemporary Dance, Doug Varone & Dancers, Jane Comfort & Company, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar & Nora Chipaumire, Joe Goode Performance Group, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, LeeSaar The Company, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Mark Haim & Bill Shannon/Crutchmaster, Morgan Thorson & Company, Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Rubberbandance, Sean Curran & Company, Stephen Petronio Dance Group, STREB, Susan Marshall & Company, Tere O’Connor Dance, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Urban Bush Women & Compagnie Jant-Bi, Viver Brasil, and ZviDance.  

About the Performing Arts Series
The 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. This season's upcoming performances include the Connecticut premiere of The Nile Project (Friday, April 10, 2015). The dozen musicians in The Nile Project perform “joyous and even raucous” (NPR Music) songs from traditions of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda. For more information, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa.

About the Dance Department
The Dance Department at Wesleyan University is a contemporary program with a global perspective. The curriculum, faculty research, and pedagogy all center on the relationships between theory and practice, embodied learning, and the potential dance making has to be a catalyst for social change. Within that rigorous context, students encounter a diversity of approaches to making, practicing, and analyzing dance in an intimate learning atmosphere. The program embraces classical forms from ballet, Bharata Natyam, Javanese, and Ghanaian, to experimental practices that fuse tradition and experimentation into new, contemporary forms.

For more information about the Dance Department, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/dance.

A World of Arts in the Heart of Connecticut