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Close Encounters

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

It’s a dreary, drizzly Friday afternoon. The Mahaney Center for the Arts seems hunkered down as water drips from the roof into the muted gray shadows of the back courtyard. Inside, the hallways are long and quiet. It’s just the kind of day that demands hot tea and a nap. Then, dancers emerge. Dressed playfully in harvest hues—pumpkin, burgundy, avocado—they begin to move. They seem to be everywhere—in the corridors, in nooks, on the balcony above the ticket booth. Haunting, melancholy music played by a lone violinist washes through the building.

This is A Curious Invasion-Middlebury, a featured event of the Clifford Symposium on Creativity and Collaboration, September 27–29. It is a true collaboration, sponsored by the Middlebury Council on the Arts and featuring the renowned choreography and performance of the PearsonWidrig Dance Theater, the Dance Company of Middlebury, the Alumni Solo Project, and other Middlebury artists. Versions of A Curious Invasion have been performed around the world, using the surroundings to inspire the dance. Today the arts center is the source of inspiration.

The audience, if that is what you are when the dancing is all around you, flows about the building with the performers, who subtly direct the viewers to different spots. After a while, the dancers migrate outside and the audience follows. Dancers take over the courtyard tables, the courtyard wall, the grass beyond. As you watch, you begin to see the site with new eyes: how metal-like the museum exterior seems, how transparent the Zig-Zag Labyrinth sculpture is, how lush the lawn looks, and how soccer balls on the far-away field seem to float.

Gradually the dancers disappear inside, through a door most people never notice, reappearing in windows that most people hurry past without a thought. And for the next several minutes, those windows get complete attention as the dancers execute an exceedingly slow-motion evacuation through them.

When the performance is over, no one is thinking about hot tea and a nap. Seeing this everyday facet of Middlebury through new eyes has woken everyone up.


Rothrock Residencies

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

When we learned that a gift had been made to help support Performing Arts Series residencies, and ensure Middlebury students would have greater access to our visiting artists, we were thrilled!

The Rothrock Family Fund for Experiential Learning in the Performing Arts, established in 2011, supports opportunities that broaden the scope of Middlebury students’ experience in the performing arts.

Residencies for the 2011-12 seasons: (click on the photos to enlarge the images)

January 13, 2012
Pianist Rustem Hayroudinoff worked with students in Professor Su Lian Tan’s composition class and recorded their works. Scheduled for a 3 hour session, Hayroudinoff generously gave the entire day to provide feedback and recordings to the students participating.


February 16, 2012
Balla Kouyate and World Vision presented a lecture/demonstration for Professor Damascas Kafumbe’s Intro to World Music class.  After Kouyate spoke about his family’s musical legacy and demonstrated the ensemble’s various instruments, the students started a lively discussion with Kouyate about his music and culture. The students then spent informal time with Kouyate celebrating his birthday.


March 6-10, 2012
Cellist David Darling‘s visit to campus was the first “student-initiated” Rothrock Residency.  It was a jam-packed week, which included…

  • Music, Meditation, and Yoga with Russell Comstock and David Darling, co-sponsored with the Yoga Club
  • Open music jam with students, faculty, and staff
  • “Music and the Environment” lecture as part of the Spring 2012 Woodin Environmental Studies Colloquium Series
  • David Darling in Concert (free)
  • Improvising Together: Music and Dancing

A student violinist, who had not played for a while but found success playing in Darling’s more improvisational style, is again performing (thanks to Darling’s encouragement during his residency) and sent the following message…

“I had an excellent time this afternoon working with David Darling and I wanted to thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of that experience.  I really feel as though I took a lot from his teaching!”


March 15, 2012
Choreographer Kyle Abraham and his dance company Abraham.In.Motion led a vigorous master class in intermediate technique for our students, and also presented a lunchtime lecture/demonstration investigating Abraham’s creative process and introducing elements of their touring work, The Radio Show.


April 9-10, 2012
Dancer/filmmaker Erika Randall was in residence for two days, and along with presenting a lecture/demonstration about her experiences with choreography from both  dance performance and film perspectives, she taught a modern technique master class to our dance students, and offered a screening of her film, Leading Ladies.


All in all, a very successful first year.  Next year will also include theatre and jazz residencies as well.