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Theatre and Dance

Swing into Spring Contra Dance

Grinnell College's Contra Dance club is holding its Second Annual Contra Dance at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22. The free, public event will take place in Main Quad Dining Hall.

The dance will feature live music by Can I Get an Amen, one of Chicago's foremost folk bands. Nikki Herbst, a renowned contra dancer from Iowa, will be calling the social dances.

Contra dance is an American folk tradition, similar to square dancing. Fun for both skilled and beginner dancers, this live dance is a unique opportunity to experience one of America's folk traditions firsthand.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from Conference Operations and Events.

This event is supported by the Grinnell Department of Music with funds from the Terri Thaler ’82 Memorial Endowment.

Mortal Tongues, Immortal Stories

Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company will present Mortal Tongues, Immortal Stories is a multimedia dance project that bears witness and celebrates the lives of poets and artists lost to AIDS. Based on the anthology "Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS", this evening-length performance brings together spoken word, artists, dancers, and stunning visual designs in short vignettes that create an imaginary world inspired by the poems.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Flanagan Theatre, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. Tickets are required for this free event and are available at the Campus Box Office begin April 4.

The day before their performance, three members of Dakshina — Chris August, Daniel Phoenix Singh, and Gowri Koneswaran — will speak on the interdisciplinary nature of Dakshina’s work and how art can address social issues within the context of their upcoming performance of Mortal Tongues, Immortal Stories. The entire company of 11 will be present to contribute to the discussion and answer questions.

The event begins at noon, Friday, April 8, in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 152, and lunch provided.

Grinnell College's Artists@GrinnellDepartment of Theatre & Dance, Center for International Studies, and Center for Humanities are sponsoring the free, public events.

About Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company

Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company is an emerging dance company based in Washington D.C. They perform and present Indian dance forms, such as Bharata Natyam, and modern dance, mirroring the multiple identities of second generation South Asians. The group combines the arts with social justice issues by incorporating the themes into their work and partnering with local community centers and schools.

Performing Locally, Thinking Globally

For many, theatrical performances are a way to explore the unfamiliar, to experience things that are different from the place and people they call home. For Leda Hoffmann ’09, however, theatre has been a tool for making a strange new place feel like home.

The daughter of a foreign service officer, Hoffmann’s life before Grinnell was spread across multiple continents. While some might see moving around between Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Canada, and the United States as an obstacle to getting involved in a community, Hoffman dove headfirst into local theatre to make friends in each new city.  

So why did this internationally-inclined student choose to come to the middle of Iowa? The answer is simple: To get the benefits of international ideas without the distractions of a big city.

“I had never lived anywhere that wasn’t a big city, but going to Grinnell was easy for me,” she says. “Grinnell felt cosmopolitan enough that I knew if I went, there would be people from big cities, smaller towns, and all over the world.”

A theatre and dance major, Hoffmann directed numerous student-run plays during her time at Grinnell, working closely with theatre faculty. “Grinnell professors push you to do better,” she says. “To have professors and other students push you and go, ‘That’s not good enough, push harder. Ask more questions.’ That’s the whole point of going to Grinnell for me.”

This willingness to engage and challenge each other is part of what attracted Hoffman to Grinnell in the first place. “The people I talked to at Grinnell felt really honest and connected to what was going on there,” Hoffmann says. “It felt like a really strong community and one that felt true to whatever it wanted to be.”

After graduating, Hoffmann began her theatre career as an assistant lighting designer for Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. and later as an education apprentice at Hartford Stage in Connecticut. More recently, she has worked her way from education coordinator to literary coordinator and director at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

“When I started as an intern at the Repertory Theater, I did a lot of teaching literacy through theatre. After two years, I had enough connections in town to become a director,” says Hoffmann. “As director of community engagement, I create and execute the programs that ignite positive change in our community. It’s a job that combines my love of theater with the social justice mindset Grinnell instilled in me.”

Celebrate Humanities Day

Grinnell College will mark Celebrate Humanities Day, a daylong series of free, public events to honor the study of the humanities, on Monday, March 14.

U.S. Rep. Jim Leach will present the keynote, "Where Politics and Morality Conjoin and Disconnect," at 7:30 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Leach represented Iowa’s second district in the House of Representatives for 30 years and later served as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Under his leadership, the NEH created a Bridging Cultures program designed to promote understanding and mutual respect for diverse groups within the United States and abroad. Leach is now chair in public affairs and visiting professor of law in the College of Law at the University of Iowa.

Students will perform at 4 p.m. in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Sebring-Lewis Hall.

Student performances include:

  • "Choreography as Research" by Rosie Fuqua ’17, Ivy Kuhn ’17,  and Taylor Watts.
  • "Indo-Jazz Fusion from Banaras to New York," by Vincent Kelley ’17 and his band.

Kelley, drums and tabla, will be joined by Omri Benami ’17, piano; Tom Earnest ’17, bass; and Jacob Ziontz ’17, viola; and Assistant Professor of Music Mark Laver, saxophone.

The daylong celebration will culminate in a Pub Quiz trivia night at 9 p.m. in Lyle's Pub, in the basement of the Rosenfield Center.

This will be Grinnell College’s first Celebrate Humanities Day, which is organized by the College’s Center for the Humanities.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. The Bucksbaum Center has accessible parking at the south entrance.  You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Exploring History Through Dance

Taylor Watts ’16 had never danced before taking a salsa lesson during her New Student Orientation. She discovered she loved dance.

Her passion for French goes back a little further, to her sophomore year in high school. Watts is combining both passions in a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP), “A Choreographic Exploration of the ‘commerce triangulaire,’” under the direction of Celeste Miller, assistant professor of theatre and dance.

Watts had the idea for this MAP after several powerful academic experiences. One was a summer MAP in Atlanta, also directed by Miller, working with theatre and dance companies whose work addresses social justice issues.

Another was a semester abroad in Nantes, France. While there she learned about the history of France’s largest slave port in the 18th century in a course taught by a black Frenchman. “Why is it so much easier to study [slavery and race] in a different culture’s history? I was very interested in the class, but I wasn’t going to do anything with it,” Watts says.

When she returned to campus the next semester, Watts took a class on Caribbean authors from Haiti, Guadalupe, and Martinique with Gwenola Caradec, assistant professor of French. The impact of slavery on the Caribbean was a topic that spoke to Watts.

Taylor Watts performanceShe says, “I really questioned doing it because I’m not French or from the Caribbean. Do I have the right to write about this? So I chose words directly from the text. Dance adds another layer of emotionality.”

“Taylor’s ‘Choreographic Exploration’ is a rich example of how dance, because of the undeniability of the body, can be a powerful and visceral use of the arts to examine complex and difficult topics,” Miller says. ”It is a choreographed embodiment drawn from research into both her topic and the aesthetic of the art form of dance.”

“Because of the emphasis spoken French places on connecting each word so that a sentence flows together, just listening to French I can visualize movement,” Watts says.

Watts was already planning the MAP when she heard about the France on Campus Award competition. She had just watched the film The Royal Tenenbaums, written and directed by Wes Anderson, one of the France on Campus Award patrons. The timing seemed auspicious. She won second place.

Watts will perform her work at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, in Flanagan Studio Theatre in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. As part of her award, she also will receive mentoring from the French Embassy and from Kickstarter to raise funds that will enable her to perform the work on other U.S. college campuses. 

Taylor Watts ’16 is a French and anthropology double major from Sacramento, Calif.

Tannhäuser, Live in HD

This fall Grinnell is streaming four of the Metropolitan Opera's productions live and in high-definition as the Met celebrates its 10th anniversary of Live-in-HD movie theater transmissions.

The opera talk for Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser starts at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 31, in the Harris Center Cinema, with the opera beginning at 11 a.m.

Otto Schenk directs the Met's first production of this early Wagner masterpiece in more than a decade. Experienced Wagnerian tenor Johan Botha takes on the complex title role alongside soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek as the heroine Elisabeth. The production takes place in and around Wartburg Castle, in Thuringia in central Germany in the 13th century. James Levine conducts. Kelly Maynard, assistant professor and department chair of European Studies, will present the opera talk.

The next opera of the season is Alban Berg's Lulu on Saturday, Nov. 21, with an opera talk by Eugene Gaub, associate professor of music theory and music history

Refreshments will be available for purchase in the lobby of the cinema before each opera.

Tickets are available at the Pioneer Bookshop, the Grinnell College Bookstore, and at the door on the day of the show. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children and Met Opera members.

The Office of the President has generously funded tickets for Grinnell College faculty, staff, and students, and these tickets are available for free at all locations. Family members not employed by the College are required to purchase tickets.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

Lulu, Live in HD

The Metropolitan Opera’s production of Alan Berg’s Lulu will be streamed live in high-definition at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, in Harris Center Cinema. The opera talk by Eugene Gaub, associate professor of music theory, will begin at 11 a.m.

Music Director James Levine—one of Lulu’s leading champions — conducts the Met’s new production from acclaimed artist and director William Kentride, who applies his unique vision to Berg’s opera.

Soprano Marlis Petersen has excited audiences around the world with her portrayal of the title role, a wild journey of love, obsession and death. She recently announced that she plans to retire the part after this season. The winning cast also features mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, tenor Daniel Brenna and bass-baritone Johan Reuter.

The Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD will return to Grinnell for the spring season.

Refreshments will be available for purchase in the lobby of the cinema before the opera and during intermission.

Tickets are available at the Pioneer Bookshop, the Grinnell College Bookstore, and at the door on the day of the show. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children, and Met Opera members.

The Office of the President has generously funded tickets for Grinnell College faculty, staff, and students, and these tickets are available at no cost at all locations. Family members not employed by the College are required to purchase tickets.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

Otello, Live in HD

This fall Grinnell is streaming four of the Metropolitan Opera's productions live and in high-definition as the Met celebrates its 10th anniversary of Live-in-HD movie theater transmissions.

The screening of Giuseppe Verdi's Otello starts at noon, Saturday, Oct. 17, in the Harris Center Cinema, with an opera talk at 11:30 a.m.

In this adoption of Shakespeare's Othello, the Met has updated the opera's setting to the late 19th century, where the tragedy will unfold in a shape-shifting glass palace. Directed by Bartlett Sher and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Otello features tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko as Otello and new soprano actress Sonya Yoncheva as his innocent wife and victim, Desdemona. Presenting the opera talk will be Ellen Mease, associate professor of European dramatic literature, criticism, theory and theatre history.

The season continues with screenings featuring opera talks by faculty members:

  • Richard Wagner’s "Tannhäuser" on Saturday, Oct. 31, with an opera talk by Kelly Maynard, assistant professor and department chair of European Studies
  • Alban Berg's "Lulu" on Saturday, Nov. 21, with an opera talk by Eugene Gaub, associate professor of music theory and music history

Refreshments will be available for purchase in the lobby of the cinema before each opera.

Tickets are available at the Pioneer Bookshop, the Grinnell College Bookstore, and at the door on the day of the show. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children and Met Opera members.

The Office of the President has generously funded tickets for Grinnell College faculty, staff, and students, and these tickets are available for free at all locations. Family members not employed by the College are required to purchase tickets.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

Il Trovatore, Live in HD

This fall Grinnell will stream four of the Metropolitan Opera's productions live and in high-definition as the Met celebrates its 10th anniversary of Live-in-HD movie theater transmissions.

The screening will start at noon in the Harris Center Cinema.

The season opens with Giuseppe Verdi's "Il Trovatore" on Saturday, Oct. 3.

A tragedy, Il Trovatore is set in Spain during the Peninsular War (1808-14) between Spain and Napoleon's forces. The Met's production features soprano Anna Netrebko as the heroine Leonora, tenor Yonghoon Lee as the ill-fated Manric, and mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick as the mysterious gypsy. Sir David McVicar directs and Marco Armiliato conducts.

The season continues with screenings featuring pre-opera talks by faculty members:

  • Guiseppe Verdi's Otello on Saturday, Oct. 17, with a pre-opera talk by Ellen Mease, associate professor of European dramatic literature, criticism, theory and theatre history.
  • Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser on Saturday, Oct. 31, with a pre-opera talk by Kelly Maynard, assistant professor and department chair of European Studies
  • Alban Berg's Lulu on Saturday, Nov. 21, with a pre-opera talk by Eugene Gaub, associate professor of music theory and music history

Refreshments will be available for purchase in the lobby of the cinema before each opera.

Tickets are available at the Pioneer Bookshop, the Grinnell College Bookstore, and at the door on the day of the show. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children and Met Opera members.

The Office of the President has generously funded tickets for Grinnell College faculty, staff, and students, and these tickets are available for free at all locations. Family members not employed by the College are required to purchase tickets.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

Welcome, Class of 2019

Curious about the new group of first-years?

Here are a few facts about the class of 2019:

  • 81 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their secondary school class.
  • 40 percent were varsity athletes.
  • 54 percent participated in the fine arts (music, theater, dance, visual art).
  • 24 percent are U.S. students of color.
  • 16 percent are first-generation college students.
  • 18 percent participated in student government.

Want to know more? Take a peek at a virtual conversation with two of them.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: We’re excited to begin the 2015–16 academic year. Renowned faculty and transformative research experiences here and abroad await you. Ready?

Haley Jo CutroneHaley Jo Cutrone ’19:  I’m both nervous and excited. I love the people — every interaction I’ve had with students and faculty has been friendly and everyone seems so excited about the school. And, my roommate seems wicked cool, so that’s very exciting.

Hasan ThompsonHassan Thompson  ’19I’M very anxious and eager to study at Grinnell. One of my passions is traveling, and I’d never been to Iowa before. Grinnell will be my home for the next few years. This will be a huge culture change for me.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: What do you plan to study your first year of college?

Hasan ThompsonHasan Thompson  ’19I plan to major in physics. My primary goal is to get mentally ready for both the academic year and football season by letting it sink in that Grinnell will be my home.

Haley Jo CutroneHaley Jo Cutrone  ’19I’m undecided on my major. I enjoy history so I could potentially major in something related to that field of study.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: We had a great summer in Grinnell preparing for your arrival. What adventures did you have last summer?

Haley Jo CutroneHaley Jo Cutrone  ’19I spent my summer working as a camp counselor in Maine. I also got outside a lot on the weekends — hiking in Acadia National Park and the White Mountains, kayaking, biking.

Hasan ThompsonHasan Thompson: I’m both a Posse Scholar and a Gates Millennium Scholar. Other than working at Popeye’s fast food restaurant, I spent the summer attending pre-collegiate training with 10 other future Grinnell scholars who are my Posse. We spent our entire summer learning more about each other and just creating moments and bonds that has brought us closer and will last a life time.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: If you had to describe yourself in 160 characters or less, what would it say? We’ll go first.

Liberal Arts College located in the middle of everywhere. Home to social justice crusaders, status-quo challengers, and investigative globetrotters. Go.

Hasan ThompsonHasan Thompson: A genuine and gracious leader who is confident, trustworthy, and creative. Also, sees no need for violence when you can kill them with success.

Haley Jo CutroneHaley Jo Cutrone: Outdoorsy reader intending to travel the world, hoping to make an impact, and aiming to discover new passions and new ideas.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: Good luck, Haley Jo and Hassan, and the entire of the Class of 2019. We’ll get to know each other better during the next four years. We know you’ll do great.

Haley Jo Cutrone is from Hollis Center, ME, and Hassan Thompson is from New Orleans, LA.