Omari Wiles Rothrock Residency

We’re thrilled to welcome dance artist Omari Wiles to campus, thanks to the winning Rothrock Residency proposal by Brys Peralta-Grant ’25.

MONDAY, APRIL 17, 2023

  • Vogue Fem with Omari Wiles
    7:00 PM ET
    Mahaney Arts Center Dance Theatre

    Join Omari Wiles for a beginner-level breakdown of the Five Elements of Vogue Fem: Hand/Arm Performance, Catwalk, Duckwalk, Spins & Dips, and Floor Performance. Learn exercises and techniques to help you better develop your performance quality and usage of Elements and personality. Class is led with a warmup and stretch before taking the Elements across the floor! A Student-supported Rothrock Residency event.

    Free, Open to the Public.
NOTE to STUDENTS interested in performing with Omari Wiles in the April 21 Showcase:
Middlebury College students interested in performing with Omari on Friday, must attend this Monday workshop plus three more rehearsals, and sign-up here>>.
Rehearsals: Tuesday–Thursday, April 18–20; 7:00–8:30 PM, MAC 110/Dance Theatre


Artist Talk with Omari Wiles
5:00–6:00 PM
Mahaney Arts Center Dance Theatre

Come and Listen to New York-based Dancer and Choreographer Omari Wiles as he shares his Dance journey and experience in the Ballroom community.

Wiles began his training in West African dance as a child, and himself learning, training and falling in love with other styles such as Hip-Hop, House, Modern, Jazz, and Vogue. Wiles has had the opportunity to work with many artists, featuring his range of dance. His choreography has been featured with Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, John Legend, Jidenna, and Rashaad Newsome, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and many more. Wiles also appeared with his house as a contestant on Legendary Season 2 on HBOMax.

Wiles is now evolving his own style of dance with his company LES BALLET AFRIK, blending African, Vogue, Modern, and House as one. Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fund.
Free. Open to the Public.

FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2023

Showcase featuring Omari Wiles
7:30 PM
Mahaney Arts Center Dance Theatre

Ousmane Omari Wiles is an African American West African and Vogue dancer, who has performed at the Joyce Theater, Harlem Stage, Gibney Dance, and with Works and Process at the Guggenheim, and Lincoln Center.

For the culminating event of his Rothrock Residency, Omari Wiles and students will be exhibiting choreography worked on across the week of his residency, as well as Wiles’ own work.

A student-supported Rothrock Residency event.
Free. Open to the Public.

View Omari’s dance film “Our Name, Our Legacy” on

Sophie Shao and Friends

I hope you will enjoy the following two videos to help build context for the Sophie Shao and Friends performance on Friday, April 21. I thank Scott Yoo and Rebecca Mitchell for their efforts to make these videos available to our audience. Cheers! –Allison, PAS Director

For this year’s “friends” performance, Sophie has invited violinist Scott Yoo and pianist John Novacek. This trio had the opportunity to perform together previously on PBS’s Now Hear This—hosted by Scott Yoo—in an episode entitled “New American Voices.” In the episode, the trio performs an excerpt from Reena Esmail’s Piano Trio—which they’ll perform in Middlebury—and in the below clip, Scott speaks with the composer about her musical influences. Many thanks to Scott, for working with PBS to provide access to this excerpt for our audience.

Last year, as I was planning this season, I asked Sophie to consider adding Rachmaninoff to the program as this month celebrates the composer’s 150th birthday. So, I was thrilled to learn I was not alone on campus in looking forward to the Rachmaninoff 150, as Middlebury Associate Professor of History and PASS member Rebecca Mitchell has written an acclaimed book entitled “Sergei Rachmaninoff (Critical Lives)” and recently given a virtual talk on Rachmaninoff as part of Kirill Gerstein’s Kronberg Academy Series. Many thanks to Rebecca for sharing her full talk and discussion with Kirill here for our audience.

Healing Choral Sound Bath

Dear Series Patrons and Friends,

We are so excited to welcome you to this unique choral sound bath experience! Below you will find important information about the concert. This one-of-a-kind event will be unlike any choral concert you’ve previously attended, so please take a few moments to read.

Included below:

  • A list of what to bring with you – IMPORTANT!
  • What to expect and how to prepare for the experience
  • Things to keep in mind during the experience
  • Things to consider doing afterward to continue with your experience
  • A wonderful letter of explanation of the science behind sound healing from our singing member, Brooke Slemmer, MM, MT-BC, NMT

We hope you’ll love the event and we’re going to love presenting it for you.


Your friends at Choral Chameleon and the Performing Arts Series

What To Bring

  • Face mask (welcomed, and required in some cases)
  • Neck/travel pillow (recommended)
  • Eye mask (recommended—some will be available from the ushers)
  • Water bottle
  • Your most open and authentic self (come as you are ♥)
  • Quality headphones, if listening to the stream at home

What To Expect & How To Prepare

This first-of-its-kind choral sound bath collaboration invites each participant to relax as singers and sound healing artists guide you through a restorative, energetically cleansing sound journey. A variety of traditional sound healing rituals will be woven throughout the carefully curated choral repertoire for a seamless 90-minute sonic experience designed for both individual and communal healing. If you have any questions about any of this information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Chorus Representative Sandra Garner or MAC Arts Events Manager Molly Andres.

Before you arrive, we encourage you to consider the following:

  • Refrain from alcohol and/or caffeine for 6-8 hours before the experience.
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day with plenty of water and electrolytes.
  • Take a moment to sit quietly for 2+ minutes and set an intention for your journey. This can happen through meditation and/or journaling.
  • Plan to wear clothing to maximize your comfort (something you’d wear to relax or stretch; layers recommended.)
  • The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.
  • Please know there is no late seating for this event. While the performance starts at 4:00 PM, please plan to come early and use the time to get comfortable in your reserved seat.
  • Sound healers navigating the room may exercise light touch during the sound bath. Consider if you will comfortable with this, as you’ll have the option of receiving a wristband to wear during the performance to indicate your preference.
  • Singers from the College Choir will be on stage on yoga mats.

Things to keep in mind during the experience

  • As you listen, you may find your mind wandering. This is normal. When you notice this, gently guide yourself back to the sounds you are hearing.
  • Some sounds may feel uncomfortable or unpleasant for you, and that is natural. Sound is not inherently good or bad. If you feel tension or anxiety, continue breathing and allow the sound to move through your body as it needs to. Often, discomfort means energy is moving away from a place where it no longer serves you.
  • We will be using scents towards the beginning of the journey.

Things to consider doing afterward to continue with your experience

After the experience, we recommend a variety of activities and prompts to assist with integration. Choose one or more:

  • Grounding foods, especially dark chocolate and/or blackberries, and soothing and hydrating beverages like herbal tea or lemon water: How might the sound journey have heightened your sense of taste?
  • Journaling: What did your experience bring up for you? What did it feel like in your body? What did you see behind your eyelids? Where did you go?
  • Light stretching and restorative yoga, ending in child’s pose.
  • Mindful walking in your home or neighborhood, finding new discoveries along the way: What small details are you noticing that haven’t been appreciated before? Make a list if you want.
  • Drawing: On a blank piece of paper, draw a large circle in the center. Then, design your experience with shapes, colors, images, etc.
  • Breathing and toning: Inhale through the nose for 4 beats, and exhale on a hum. Repeat to your desire. On the final few exhales, open to “ah.”

A Letter from Brooke Slemmer, MM, MT-BC, NMT

Dear Friends,

I am so excited, along with the rest of my choral family, to soon be holding space for you in our truly unique program. I am Brooke, a singer in the chorus, and also a Board-Certified Neurologic Music Therapist. I am honored to offer some thoughts about this program from the perspective of someone who utilizes music to help people in a very functional way.

Before meeting our resident Certified Sound Healers, Molly and Derek, I knew very little about the practice. From the surface, Music Therapy and Sound Healing look incredibly different. As a Music Therapist, I use the most easily perceptible parts of music (rhythm, melody, lyrics) to get my clients to work hard to achieve tangible goals, like improved speech or motor skills. But in a sound bath, a Sound Healer harnesses the micro-scale parts of music, like frequency and timbre, to promote wellness.

Despite the differences, I learned (from geeking out about music cognition with Molly and Derek) that our practices are based on the same foundation. The premise is this: something special happens in our brains when we are participating in a music experience. We don’t know everything about this yet, but we do know that music organizes your brain for optimal functioning.

How might you experience this as part of our audience? We know from Music Therapy research that our bodies entrain to music. This means our breathing, heart rate, and even systolic blood pressure matches the tempo of what we’re hearing, and the change is even greater if we are actively involved in the music-making. We hope that by surrounding you with our sound, we can get as close to that effect as possible without forcing you to perform with us. (Don’t fret.)

Through more research, we found that our actual brainwaves entrain too! When this electrical information hits our brain stem (the rhythm-obsessed part of the brain connected to the spine), it sends it on to the vagus nerve. After receiving such organized and pleasant stimulation, the vagus nerve helps to regulate our organs—especially the heart, lungs, and gut. The good feeling you get from music is not just in your head—it’s in your whole body.

My favorite thing you will experience is the sound of Molly’s singing bowls. You will notice that a lot of the music chosen for this program features dissonant harmonies, which mirrors what Molly does with these instruments.

To understand what happens neurologically when we hear harmonic clusters, we have to know that frequencies are measured in hertz. For example, the note “A” vibrates at 440 hertz. Right above that, we have the note “B flat” at around 466 hertz. When we hear two pitches that are that close together, our brain thinks it can “hear” the subtracted difference hovering underneath. Now, the difference between A and B flat would create a note that is 26 hertz, which is outside the hearing range for most people. But we can feel it—as a very slow rhythm. If our brainwaves entrain to this rhythm, it can slow our bodies to a state of deep meditation.

There’s also research about how finding ourselves in this meditative state as a group can promote a feeling of unity and bonding. I can’t think of a better way for Choral Chameleon to return to live performance for the first time since 2019. We hope you will find that this is just what you need after two and a half long years apart. We know it is for us.

Much love and warmth,

Brooke Slemmer, MM, MT-BC, NMT

Celebrating 100 Years

Our 100th anniversary season in 2019–2020 coincides with other milestones that are reflected in the programming—commemorating Beethoven’s 250th birth year, and raising women’s voices in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote—plus we’ll premiere new works, debut new artists, and connect with performers vital to the series’ development. The season, by the numbers:

  • Almost 70 individual artists hailing from over a dozen countries
  • 5 collaborative performances with world-renowned artists and/or ensembles
  • More than 4 weeks of residency activities
  • 4 commissions or co-commissions of new works
  • 2 world premieres and 1 Vermont premiere

Season details will be released in mid-to-late summer.