Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Attractive Coming Attractions

Hard to believe but the summer is winding down and it's time to think about the arts offerings coming our way this fall (yes, autumn is but a mere 5 weeks away.)

The Center for the Arts at Wesleyan has announced its Fall 09 schedules for the Crowell Concert Series, the Breaking Ground Dance Series, the Outside-the-Box Theater presentations, the Russell House offerings and more. Though the economy is still wheezing its way back to health, there's much to enjoy in the CFA selections and a goodly amount of the events are free.

The Crowell Concert series commences on Friday September 18 with the traditional & non-traditional Cajun sounds of Balfa Toujours (pictured above.) The quartet, led by Christine Balfa, daughter of legendary Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa, blends swing, blues, and folk elements into their attractive program. Their 8 p.m. show is preceded at 7:15 by a pre-concert talk delivered by Tim Eriksen. Following the show at 10:30 p.m. will be a dance held in Fayerweather Beckham Hall, across the street.

On Saturday October 17, Crowell gets "Cuban" with an appearance from the Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet. Pianist Sosa (pictured left), born and raised in Camaguey, Cuba, is a prolific composer and performer, releasing 17 CDs since 1997. Trained in Havana, Sosa moved to Ecuador in 1993 and then to the San Francisco Bay area several years later. His music is an exciting blend of African, Caribbean and Middle Eastern rhythms. For his Middletown appearance, Sosa is joined by the exciting young drummer Marcus Gilmore, electric bassist Childo Tomas, and vocalist Mola Sylla.

Tickets for both shows are now available online at www.wesleyan.edu/cfa.

The Fall offering for the Breaking Ground dance series takes place on Friday and Saturday September 25-26 and features the Stephen Petronio Dance Company. The troupe, now its 25th year, presents a full-length work, "I Drink The Air Before Me", with music by the fine young composer Nico Muhly and a cameo appearance by the Middletown High School Chamber Choir. With appearances around the world, Petronio's Company brings together dancers and artists willing to take chances and be daring on stage. Tickets for this event are available online.

The Outside-the-Box Theater series presents Dan Hurlin's "Disfarmer" on October 17 and 17 at 8 p.m. in the CFA Theater.
Based on the story of American portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer (1884-1959) who set up shop in Heber Springs, Arkansas, in 1939 and took photographs of the local citizenry. He did not pose his subjects; instead, he allowed to choose the way they wished to be seen. Disfarmer was born Michael Meyers in 1884, the sixth of seven children in a family of German immigrant farmers in Arkansas. As he grew older, he came to reject both his family and its agrarian lifestyle. (A tornado, he once claimed, uprooted him from his birth parents and blew him into the Meyers household.) So he chose a new surname. Upon learning, somewhat incorrectly, that the German word "meyer" translated to "farmer" in English, he reasoned that he could only be called an anti-farmer, or Disfarmer.

Hurlin's show, which has a brilliantly evocative set, portrays Disfarmer as an ever-shrinking puppet. It's a fascinating look at the photographer's life and his choice to remain aloof and apart from his family, his many subjects and community. Dan Mose Schreier contributed the original score and and Sally Oswald the text. To find out more about this show, go to http://mappinternational.org/programs/view/61.

In an unrelated yet equally compelling project, guitarist Bill Frisell has a new CD based on his impressions of Disfarmer's work. You can hear excerpts from the disc and find out more about the project by going to www.billfrisell.com/artists/Frisell/discs_link.html.

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