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Department News - Fall 2016

Gem of the Ocean, a play by August Wilson, directed by Monica Ndounou
Fall 2016

"Fantastic performance @TuftsDramaDance of 'Gem of the Ocean' this evening. Congrats Director Monica Ndounou & all the talented performers!" – Tufts President Anthony Monaco, via Twitter

The department presented its fall major, August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, directed by Professor Monica Ndounou. Gem of the Ocean is the powerful, soul-stirring penultimate play in a cycle focusing on black experiences in the United States throughout the twentieth century. This story of the price of freedom is a reminder to every generation of the grace of redemption and the beauty of love. With intertwining memories of the past and present members of this community seek transcendence and empowerment by envisioning and creating a future worth living...together. View Trailer >

Prior to the show, Professor Monica White Ndounou participated in a public conversation with director, performer, and playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson, known for his work in Lackawanna Blues, Selma, and "Castle". The discussion focused on Mr. Santiago-Hudson's workshop with the cast of the fall production of Gem of the Ocean, as well as his experiences as a theatrical artist and his insights into the works of August Wilson.

Dr. Sandra G. Shannon participated in a Gem of the Ocean post-show discussion on November 5. Dr. Shannon is a Full Professor of African American Literature, specializing in Dramatic Literature and Criticism at Howard University. She is one of the nation's leading scholars on the life and works of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. She is also the founder of the interdisciplinary-focused August Wilson Society at Howard University.

Read more about Gem of the Ocean in Tufts Now!

Photos of the show can be found in our online Gallery.
Fall Dance Events
Fall 2016

Fall Dance Events featured master classes and performances, including a contact improv workshop with Boston Jammer Olivier Besson in October and the beginning of our fourth season of Dances at Noon, featuring works by Boston-area dance artists. We enjoyed our Fall Dance Concert which featured an original work by Canadian guest artist, Heather Stewart, and concert artistic director, Daniel McCusker. Our semester came to a raucous conclusion with the Dance MashUp, featuring performances by students from Dance Program courses such as Hip Hop Fusion, Afro-Haitian Dance, and Folk Dance.

Dance Department Receives Diversity Grant
December 2016
The Dance program received a Diversity Fund grant to sponsor a Workshop in April 2017 with Dr. Carl Paris of John J. College of Criminal Justice in "The Ring Shout." The Workshop will take place as part of the Afro-Haitian course with dance lecturer Jenny Oliver and will be open to additional members of the Tufts student and faculty community. Additional funding for this event also comes from the Dance Innovation Fund.

Carl Paris holds a Ph.D. in Dance Studies with a focus on Cultural Studies (Temple University) and a Masters Degree in Dance Education (NYU). He has performed major roles with Olatunji African Dance, Eleo Pomare, Martha Graham, and Alvin Ailey. He taught throughout Europe and in Spain where, in 1995, he received a national award in recognition for his contribution to the art and pedagogy of dance in that country. He has served on the faculties of California Institute of the Arts, NYU, Temple, and as a Martin Luther King Visiting Fellow at MIT. Since 2013, Dr. Paris has been at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where he teaches courses in Race and Ethnicity, Africana Communities, Art and Culture in The African Diaspora, and gives presentations that incorporate dance and Africana art and culture as a tool for social justice.

ASTR Conference
November 2016

This year's American Society for Theatre Research Conference in Minneapolis, MN featured nearly two dozen faculty, alumni, and graduate students presenting research during the annual gathering. Highlights include plenary presentations delivered by Laurence Senelick and graduate student Ibby Cizmar, Current and Past Presidents Daphne Lei and Heather Nathans offering a toast to ASTR on its 60th anniversary, and alumna Adrienne Macki receiving recognition for her book Harlem's Theaters: A Staging Ground for Community, Class, and Contradiction, 1923-1929.

After Orlando: a Performance of Reflection and Remembrance of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting
October 2016

The Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies hosted a university-wide performance reflecting upon the tragedy of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. After Orlando provided community members with a space to create material about Orlando, gun violence, LGBTQ issues, community and survival and the current state of the world. Readings were directed by Director of Graduate Studies Noe Montez and performances curated by Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor Kareem Khubchandani. This performance was staged in conjunction with Missing Bolts Productions & No Passport Theatre and co-sponsored and supported by the Latino Center, LGBT Center, Latino Studies, Africana Center, Asian American Center, Community Health, and University Chaplaincy. Read The Tufts Daily's review of the event.

"Bravo to Noe, Kareem, and all the faculty and students involved in tonight's show 'After Orlando' — it was amazing to see so many folks from across the campus gather to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. The post-show dance party in the lobby was a great way to cap the evening and to celebrate everyone coming together."
– Department Chair, Professor Heather Nathans

Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies year-long diversity and inclusion project launches with DNAWORKS visit
September 2016

Daniel Banks of DNAWORKS joined us in September to help launch our year-long project on diversity and inclusion. DNAWORKS collaborates with arts organizations and departments to allow members to "empower one another towards creating new, socially relevant work." The department hopes to turn our sense of shared responsibility for creating more diverse and inclusive environments into action so that every aspect of our program reflects the values we share and the practices we believe in.

DNAWORKS partners closely with departments to help them articulate goals and, perhaps even more importantly, to design outcomes and ways for measuring accountability in reaching those goals. Daniel visited with the department from 9/20-9/24 for the first phase of the project, which involved group and individual discussions that allowed faculty, students and staff to share concerns, frustrations, and hopes. These discussions outlined a vision for what we would like to see in our "ideal" department. DNAWORKS specializes in helping artists use art and artistic practices to make significant changes.

Since the visit, participating faculty, students, and staff have come up with a set of goals and strategies that Daniel has been working with them on via phone and video conferences to help assess their progress. He'll return for a week-long residency in the spring to help create a piece of devised work based on where the department is in that process.

Tisch College Distinguished Speaker Series Doing Time in Education: The School-to-Prison Pipeline with Anna Deavere Smith
September 2016

The Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies was a proud co-sponsor of the Tisch College Distinguished Speaker Series Doing Time in Education: The School-to-Prison Pipeline, featuring Anna Deavere Smith. It was a unique event that blended performance and conversation with Anna Deavere Smith, playwright, professor, and actor who uses her singular brand of theater to highlight issues of community, character, and diversity in America. Several Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies students and faculty were also included in a special roundtable discussion prior to the university-wide event.