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This fall Vassar's Department of Dance presents three public programs, including a performance by Jane Comfort and Company, a lecture by Alastair Macaulay, and a panel discussion with Merrill Brockway about his "Dance in America" series.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—In conjunction with the sesquicentennial celebration of Vassar College, the Department of Dance will present three public programs this fall. These will include a performance by the internationally renowned and award-winning Jane Comfort and Company (September 2), a lecture by the New York Times’ chief dance critic Alastair Macaulay (September 21), and a panel discussion and conversation with the noted producer/director of PBS’s “Dance in America” series Merrill Brockway and dancers Merrill Ashley, Tom Gold, and Peggy Lyman Hayes (November 7).
 
All programs will take place in the Kenyon Hall’s Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater and are free and open to the public.
 
Please note that seating is limited and is on a first-come, first-seated basis, with reservations suggested. These three programs are presented under the auspices of The Department of Dance and The Jeanne Periolat Czula Endowment and Fund. 
 
For reservations and additional information, please email dancetix@vassar.edu or call (845) 437-7470.

Friday, September 2 at 7:30pm
Jane Comfort and Company
Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater, Kenyon Hall
Reservations: dancetix@vassar.edu (please put “Comfort” in the subject line)

Jane Comfort, a Bessie Award winner and Guggenheim fellow, will present her company of dancer/actors in her newest piece entitled, “Beauty.” This work, which was performed at Jacob’s Pillow this summer, was called “wickedly funny” by the New York Times. The company described this piece as a “provocative dance/theater work exploring the American notion of female beauty through the lens of Barbie. Movement vocabulary is derived from an investigation of Barbie's limited, robotic abilities contrasted with a fully expressive dance vocabulary. ‘Beauty’  will include a Barbie beauty contest and an intimate encounter between Barbie and Ken.” In addition, the September 2nd program will include the work “Underground River,” described as a “risk-taking and profound theatrical tour de force,” which was the recipient of a 1998 Bessie Award.
 
Choreographer Comfort is known for issue-oriented works that integrate text and movement, spanning the worlds of dance, theater, and opera. “The guiding spirits behind the theater of mixed forms are often choreographers. Theatrical directors may not be able to choreograph, but a dance-trained artist is used to conceiving the integration of movement with rhythm: the rhythm of music and even words, spoken or sung,” noted the New York Times. “That is what Jane Comfort, one of the most fertile minds in this genre, has realized so effectively.”
 
Jane Comfort and Company has been appeared at such venues as Lincoln Center, The Joyce Theater, Classic Stage Company, PS 122, Dance Theater Workshop and Danspace in New York City; Actors Theater of Louisville, American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, The Flynn Theater, The American Center in Paris, Antwerp’s Dance/USA Festival, The International Festival of Londrina, Brazil, and many theaters and colleges across the country.
 

Wednesday, September 21, at 7:00pm
Lecture by Alastair Macaulay, “Passion, Reporting, and Dance Criticism”
The Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater, Kenyon Hall
Reservations: dancetix@vassar.edu  (please put “Macaulay” in the subject line)

Alastair Macaulay, chief dance critic to the New York Times, will discuss the task of reviewing dance in general and, in particular, the range of American dance in his lecture: “Passion, Reporting, and Dance Criticism.” 

Before joining the New York Times in April 2007, Macaulay was chief theater critic to the Financial Times for over 13 years (1994-2007) and chief dance critic to the Times Literary Supplement for over 10 years (1996-2006).
 
He has taught, lectured, and examined in dance history at a number of leading British institutions for over 20 years (1980-2002). He was founding editor of the British dance quarterly Dance Theatre Journal (1983) and guest dance critic to the The New Yorker (1988 and 1992).
 
His short biography of Margot Fonteyn was published in 1998, and his book of interviews with the choreographer Matthew Bourne, Matthew Bourne and his Adventures in Motion Pictures, originally published in 2000, will soon be published in a new extended edition entitled: Matthew Bourne and his New Adventures. Essays by Macaulay on Frederick Ashton, Merce Cunningham, and Mark Morris have been published in anthologies on these choreographers. Currently, he is preparing a book on Merce Cunningham.
 

Monday, November 7 at 7:30pm
The Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater, Kenyon Hall
Conversation and Panel Discussion with Merrill Brockway, producer/director of the PBS “Dance in America” with Merrill Ashley (panelist) and John Meehan (moderator)
Reservations: dancetix@vassar.edu (please put “November Panel Discussion” in the subject line)

Merrill Brockway, the producer and director of the “Dance in America” series, will discuss his work during a conversation and panel discussion with former New York City Ballet principal dancer Merrill Ashley; Tom Gold, former soloist with New York City Ballet; and Peggy Lyman Hayes, former principal dancer with Martha Graham. The moderator will be John Meehan, professor of dance at Vassar. An illustrative video will accompany the presentation. Immediately following the program, there will be a reception in the south gallery of Kenyon Hall.

Prior to this program, there will be three screenings of “Dance in America” episodes on the evenings of October 12, 26 and November 2 (details below). 

Wednesday October 12 at 8:00pm
The Club Room, Kenyon Hall, 2nd Floor South Wing
Fim Screening of "Dance in America": Martha Graham, repertoire of Martha Graham including "Diversion of Angels," "Lamentation," "Frontier, "Adorations," etc. with guest commentator/artist, Peggy Lyman Hayes.
This is the first film screening  of Merrill Brockway's "Dance in America" series. Featured is a film of Martha Graham repertoire that will be accompanied by comments and Q&A with our guest artist, Peggy Lyman Hayes, who appears in the film.

Wednesday, October 26 at 8:00pm
The Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater, Kenyon Hall
Fim screening of "Dance in America": The Balanchine Essays, "Arabesque," with guest commentator/artist, Tom Gold. 
The second film screening  of Merrill Brockway's "Dance in America" series will be accompanied by comments and Q&A with our guest artist, Tom Gold, former soloist with the NYC Ballet, who danced in some of the Balanchine Essays films.

Wednesday, November 2 at 8:00pm
The Club Room, Kenyon Hall, 2nd Floor South Wing
Film screening of "Dance in America": Choreography by George Balanchine: "Tzigane," Andante from "Divertimento No. 15," and "The Four Temperaments," with guest commentator/artist, Merrill Ashley.
The third film screening  of Merrill Brockway's "Dance in America" series will be accompanied by comments and Q&A with our guest artist Merrill Ashley, former Principal Dancer with the NYC Ballet, who appears in the film.  

About the Participants:

As both a producer and director, Merrill Brockway, pioneered dance on television through the Emmy Award-winning PBS series, “Dance in America.” In this series and CBS' “Camera 3,” Brockway brought the performing arts to television in its early years, while working with the greatest artists of the day, including Pierre Boulez, George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Eugene Ormandy, Stella Adler, Agnes de Mille, Ruby Dee, Merce Cunningham and others. He is the author of the memoir Surprise was My Teacher.

In an interview for PBS’s “American Masters” about his work on “Dance in America,” Brockway recalled that for he and his colleague Emile Ardolino wanted “the participation of the choreographers. Balanchine had been used to people just taking his pieces and doing what they wanted to do . . . [he] was very much a part of our team, and he liked that, and he liked making television, and he liked that his vision was coming through, the way he wanted his pieces to be seen.”

During her 31-year career in the New York City Ballet, Merrill Ashley danced throughout the world, including in many of the major cities of Western and Eastern Europe. In 1987, she received the Dance Magazine Award. Ashley’s television appearances include PBS’ “Dance in America” series (including Balanchine’s “Ballo della Regina,” “Divertimento No. 15,” the “Emeralds” section of “Jewels,” and “The Four Temperaments.”  She retired on November 25, 1997, at a gala celebration opening the New York City Ballet’s winter season. In summing up her career, the Wall Street Journal said, “she basically taught the world how ballet is danced.”  Ashley immediately joined the artistic staff of the New York City Ballet where she was the teaching associate, coaching dancers in their roles and teaching Company class until January 2009. She continues to be a guest teacher at the New York City Ballet.

Tom Gold is a former soloist with the New York City Ballet and international guest artist and choreographer. He has his own group, Tom Gold and Associates, which travels throughout the US, The Middle East, Bermuda, and Europe. Gold has choreographed in a wide range of styles and to many different forms of music from very classical to modern to contemporary, working with some of today most well know composers such as John Zorn, Augusta Reed Thomas, and Thomas Lauderdale of Pink MartinI.

Peggy Lyman Hayes, a former principal dance with the Martha Graham Dance Company, danced with the Graham troupe from 1973 to 1988 and was featured in works including ''Lamentation,'' ''Frontier,'' and ''Acts of Light.'' She is a master instructor at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York. Lyman Hayes is the founder/choreographer of the Peggy Lyman Dance Company, which has appeared at the Joyce Theater, the Space at City Center, the Riverside Theater, and at Prospect Park's SummerFest. Internationally, her company has performed at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris and at the Theatre Choreographique de Rennes. Lyman Hayes was a founder of the dance division of the Hartt School at the University of Hartford and was the director of the division from 2001-2004.

John Meehan was a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet and the American Ballet Theater. He was also a frequent guest artist with the New York City Ballet and National Ballet of Canada, and toured with Stars of World Ballet. He has partnered many of the world’s great ballerinas including Dame Margot Fonteyn, Natalia Makarova, Merrill Ashley, Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory, Karen Kain and the Australian ballet stars Marilyn Rowe and Marilyn Jones. He has choreographed ballets for The Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Company, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Meehan was also the artistic director of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The American Ballet Theatre Studio Company (now ABT II), and the Hong Kong Ballet. Before taking his current position at Vassar, Meehan was a visiting professor of dance at the college from 2005 to 2006.

About the Department of Dance

The Department of Dance offers a non-major, elective course of study at Vassar. The faculty consists of three full-time professors (Jeanne Periolat CzulaJohn MeehanStephen Rooks), one full-time lecturer of dance and drama (Katherine Wildberger), and one part-time jazz instructor (Abby Saxon). Dance’s resident lighting designer, David Ferri, lights all dance department productions. There are three adjunct artists who serve as accompanists and who compose, direct, and sometimes perform with the student company, the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre, which is directed by John Meehan (http://dance.vassar.edu/).

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, August 22, 2011