Friday, February 27, 2015

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Welcome back! We're hosting a variety of scintillating events here at The Buttonwood Tree this weekend. To start off, we're hosting a celebration of the Chinese New Year tonight, lead by Wesleyan student Ming Zhu. It will feature a guqin performance by Ming, accompanied by other musicias, as well as several poetry readings by Jill J. Tan. Then, on Saturday night, we'll be visited by Dan Arcamone, with a rock-influenced jazz sound that is both unique and approachable. 

For more, click below!

Middletown Public Schools Art Exhibition

The Middletown Public Schools Art Exhibition will run from Saturday, March 7 through Saturday, March 14, 2015. This event is sponsored by the Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools Cultural Council, and Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts.
Opening reception for the event will be on March 7th from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The public is cordially invited.
Gallery open Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm and Monday through Friday from Noon to 7pm.
Location: Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, 283 Washington Terrace, Middletown, Connecticut
For more information, please call 860-685-3355.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dancers from Aceh, Indonesia arrive at Wesleyan (Feb. 25-27)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to graduate student Maho Ishiguro about the Connecticut premiere of "Tari Aceh! (Dance Aceh!)" Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra, taking place on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

After many months of planning and overseas communication, the Center for the Arts is delighted to welcome to campus a group of nine female performers from Aceh, Indonesia on their first-ever tour of the United States.

Between the ages of 14 and 24, these young women study dance at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, the capital of the Aceh province on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra. The dances they practice were originally performed only by men, and in some districts of Indonesia it remains forbidden for women to perform them.

At Wesleyan, the group will be making their Connecticut premiere as part of the fifteenth annual Breaking Ground Dance Series  as well as Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan.

Tari Aceh! Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra

The dances to be performed have been passed down from generation to generation, and contain a great deal of history and tradition. Accompanied by percussion, the performers add to each dance’s striking musicality with their own rhythmic body percussion, and the singing of both Islamic liturgical and folk texts. These dances are some of the best illustrations of the transcultural blending of Islamic and Indonesian culture.

It has been ten years since a devastating tsunami hit Aceh, killing 200,000 people. The performance of Tari Aceh! celebrates the resilience of the people of Aceh, and a new generation of young women whose performance of these traditional dances are contributing to the recovery efforts in this part of the world.

To learn more about the performing arts in Banda Aceh, click here to watch a video that Wesleyan ethnomusicology graduate student Maho Ishiguro put together while visiting Syiah Kuala University last year.  She traveled there after receiving a Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship to study the female Saman dance in Indonesia.

While in Banda Aceh, Ms. Ishiguro had the chance to interview all of the dancers. You can get to know some of them here.

Ms. Ishiguro will join Ari Palawi, the Program Coordinator at the Syiah Kuala University’s Center for the Arts, to give a pre-performance talk on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 7:15pm in Crowell Concert Hall.

On Thursday, February 26, 2015 the dancers will lead a free dance workshop, open to all experience levels, at 6:30pm in Fayerweather Beckham Hall. Click here to watch a video for a taste of what you might learn in the workshop.

Ms. Ishiguro told me a little about Saman dance, and the dancers of the Syiah Kuala troupe:

"Saman dance (also known as rateb meuseukat and ratoh duek) is one of the dance forms popularly practiced in Aceh province, the northern tip of Sumatra Island, Indonesia.  A number of dancers sit in a row and perform elaborative and fast movements with their hands, heads, and torsos.  The dance is highly coordinated, and its complex choreography includes clapping and hitting the body with the hands, resulting in percussive sounds that add to the performance.  Dancers also sing while dancing.  Texts of songs entail commentaries about nature, love, relationships, politics, and society, as well as religious teachings of Islam. Islamic phrases such as la ilaha illallah (“There is no god but God,” a testimony of Islamic faith) and assalamulaikum (“Peace be upon you”) are often interwoven within the song texts.  The origin of the dance form is unknown; however, it is generally understood that Saman dance was practiced historically as dhikr, a religious exercise which Muslims, especially those of Sufi traditions, employ to feel the presence and remembrance of Allah.  In Aceh today, Saman dance is a proud cultural heritage. Both female and male dancers practice the form, though separately."
"In the past decade, Saman dance has become highly popularized in Indonesia, as well as internationally, for its unique choreography and the feeling of camaraderie that the dance generates among the dancers.  Most high schools in Jakarta have Saman dance teams as an afterschool extracurricular activity.  Furthermore, many regional and national competitions are held, and the winning teams are sometimes sent abroad for a tour.  Today, Saman dance is not only a cultural expression of Aceh; the dance has transgressed the ethnic and regional boundaries among Indonesians, as it is practiced widely by those who do not share ethnic or cultural heritages with the Acehnese.  In recent years, the dance seems to be on its way towards becoming a cultural expression not just for the Acehnese but for all Indonesians.  There have been a number of Saman dance groups formed by Indonesian students abroad.  In such cases, Saman dance is performed as an Indonesian cultural expression.  In fact, Wesleyan has had a group of students, comprised of both Indonesians and non-Indonesians, who participated in Saman dance practice on campus over the last several years."
"The University of Syiah Kuala is one of the largest universities in Banda Aceh, the capital city of Aceh Province. The dancers of the Syiah Kuala troupe have studied several forms of Acehnese dance since their childhood.  The troupe has performed domestically and internationally.  As part of the Muslim Women's Voices at Wesleyan program, the dancers will be in residency at Wesleyan for several days, hosting workshops and engaging in other activities with students and the Wesleyan community.  One of the most exciting aspects of hosting this troupe is that the dancers are relatively close in age with our students.  We hope that Wesleyan students and dancers will engage with each other at a personal level, deepening cultural understanding through informal and meaningful interactions."
Panel Discussion: Expressing and Contesting Indonesia-Islam Encounters in Performing Arts - Dance and Music in Aceh
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 4:15pm
CFA Hall

Workshop: Dance from Northern Sumatra
Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 6:30pm
Fayerweather Beckham Hall

Tari Aceh! Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra
Connecticut Premiere
Friday, February 27, 2015 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$22 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Pre-performance talk by Wesleyan graduate student Maho Ishiguro and Ari Palawi, Program Coordinator, Syiah Kuala University's Center for the Arts, at 7:15pm.

Lockwood Wins Seat On Westfield Fire Commission

On his second try, former Westfield Fire Chief John Lockwood won a seat on the Westfield Fire District Commission, winning a run-off race against incumbent Leo Zieller, by 102 votes to 86. The Commission consists of 9 members, with 3 elected each year for a 3-year term.  Lockwood joins reelected incumbents Rick Williams and Fred Jones as Commissioners. WFD web story.

Last year Lockwood and Matt Scarrozzo both challenged incumbents. Scarrozzo was elected.

MxCC Professor Reads from His Historical Novel About 1960s Cuban Exiles on March 5

Middlesex Community College History Professor Victor Triay will host a book reading and discussion of his newly published historical novel On Freedom’s Shores on Thursday, March 5 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the College’s new Pavilion at Founder’s Hall.  The book, which is available at, completes the gripping trilogy of the León family, freedom fighters living under Fidel Castro’s regime in the 1960s, telling the tale of the León children who fled Castro’s Communist Cuba after the Bay of Pigs invasion as unaccompanied minors.  The children first land in Miami but quickly end up in New York City where their lives take a series of unexpected turns. Triay, a Cuban American born and raised in Miami, has written extensively about Fidel Castro and the Communist takeover of the island nation.  Free parking is available.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Making A Place For Wildlife In Our Communities

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art invites the public to a presentation and conversation on human responses to wildlife in urban and suburban settings, led by Liv Baker, PhD, a fellow at Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment. The event will take place on Tuesday, February 24, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the deKoven House, 27 Washington Street, in Middletown. (This event was originally scheduled for Feb. 10 but postponed due to illness.)

Some wild animals inhabit and even thrive in our urban and suburban neighborhoods. We often enjoy them, so long as they keep their distance from our hostas, vegetable gardens, and patios. When they come too close, we perceive them as invading our space, and our wonder, affection, and empathy can quickly turn to annoyance, fear, and an impulse to kill them.

Can we adjust our perspective and become more compassionate and less violent in our approach to wildlife in our midst? Aren’t we the over-populated ones, after all? What if we (re)designed our communities—our buildings, our roads, our personal and communal behaviors—to include the needs and habits of the wildlife that already share our urban and suburban environments?

Liv Baker will challenge the current approach to wildlife management in two key ways: 1) by examining the scientific validity of common policies and practices, and 2) by using concepts of animal-welfare science to suggest a more compassionate, individual, and animal-based approach to mitigating wildlife-human conflicts.

This event is free, though voluntary contributions to the work of the Jonah Center are always welcomed. For more information on the Jonah Center for Earth and Art, visit

Friday, February 20, 2015

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Brrr! This weekend, come in from the cold to get a taste of the hot tunes we'll be hosting at The Buttonwood Tree! To start our weekend off, tonight Dana Takaki, ArleneWow!, and Vincent Tuckwood will be presenting "Ear Candy for The Soul," a rousing and heart-warming piece, full of passion and love. Then, on Saturday, we'll be having Karen Frisk and Bernard Purdie rouse our spirits with some powerful Jazz. This concert will also accompanying the Bernard Purdie's book-signing event. To cap our weekend off, David S. Chorney will be presenting his piece, The Ultimate Love Life of Chaos and Beauty. Hope to see you all there! 

Author Elisabeth Petry "Overcoming the Odds"

The Middlesex County Historical Society presents author Elisabeth Petry who will speak on the topic, “Overcoming the Odds: Anna Louise James and Ann Petry Gamble and Win” on Tuesday, February 24 at 7:00 pm.  The program, co-sponsored by Russell Library, will be held in the Hubbard Room of the library located at 123 Broad Street, Middletown.  The illustrated talk will expand on essays included in the recently published book, "African American Connecticut Explored" (The Driftless Connecticut Series & Garnet Books/Wesleyan University Press), and will illuminate the lives and work of these two remarkable women.

Petry, the great-niece of Anna Louise James and daughter of Ann Petry, will reveal the reasons Miss James became the first African American woman to obtain a pharmacy license and operate a pharmacy for more than forty years in Old Saybrook.  She will also discuss the writings of her mother, a best selling novelist, and will include readings from her essay, “Just Like Georgia, Except for the Climate: Black Life at Mid-Century in Ann Petry’s The Narrows,” which appeared in "African American Connecticut Explored".

A native of Old Saybrook, Elisabeth Petry is a writer and former journalist and lawyer.  Her first book, a collection of letters that she edited, is titled "Can Anything Beat White?: A Black Family’s Letters".  Her second is "At Home Inside:  A Daughter’s Tribute to Ann Petry", published in 2008.  Liz has also taught English and is conducting a weekly writer’s workshop for military veterans.  She lives with her husband, Lawrence Riley, in Middletown.

Copies of "African American Connecticut Explored" as well as copies of Petry’s books will be available for purchase and inscription.  Russell Library is handicap accessible.  For further information, contact the Historical Society at 860-346-0746.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ Sebastian!! Adopt today!

Cat Tales

Cat of the Week




Breed:Domestic Short Hair

Color:Grey & White

Age:3 years old

I'm very sweet, affectionate, love to be pet, and love attention! I'm a very mellow, laid back cat, too. I'm FIV+ but it's not contagious to humans and is very difficult for other cats to catch. I can live just as long as any other cat if taken to my yearly vet appointments. I'd love a forever home where I can get all of the love and attention I'm craving! I'm such a love and hope you will give me a forever home! Please come meet me?
No DogsNo ChildrenFIV

Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Thaddeus Phillips about "17 Border Crossings" (Feb. 21)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to writer, director, and performer Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental about the Connecticut premiere of his solo theater work "17 Border Crossings," taking place this Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 8pm in the CFA Theater, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

What was the initial inspiration for "17 Border Crossings"?
Most of the shows I’ve made with Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental involved traveling somewhere to make the show. The travel is done as research for the performance. For example, we did a road trip from Denver to L.A., and we dropped down into New Mexico where we tried to find all the old parts or Route 66, and we filmed stuff and took notes and developed this piece called Flamingo/Winnebago based off that trip. We’ve done that in Bosnia, Cuba, the Amazon. But what would happen is I would come back and tell people stories of things that happened that weren’t directly related to the project we were doing, and I realized I wanted to do something with all this “outtake” material that was simply about travel. It didn’t have a storyline or a plot. It was just about traveling, and then I realized all of the stories that I was remembering or finding were about border crossings.

Can you talk a little about the work itself?

Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental performs “17 Border Crossings.”
There are seventeen different scenes or sequences. I had done solo work before but very involved, complicated stuff with video or crazy sets, and [for 17 Border Crossings] I wanted to try doing the classic Spalding Gray monologue at a desk with a microphone and a glass of water. Because I’ve used video in other work recently, I’ve been trying to do works that are much more cinematic in their theatricality but with no video—the simplest scenes possible: the movement of a chair or lights or sound. The idea is to create a very modern/contemporary style of theater but without any media that actively engages the audience’s imagination, individualizing the experience more. If you use a bunch of media, everyone’s seeing the same thing, but if you simply suggest something and fill it in with text and sound, then the way you’re seeing it is a little bit different than the way the person next to you is seeing it because it’s not fully there yet.

Other than the overarching theme of border crossing, what elements of traveling does the work address?
There’s a few: one is that modes of transportation are weird, like a plane is a very weird thing if you really think about it, so there’s a little sequence about being in a plane that tries to expose all that—what you’re not supposed to think about. Then there’s always being taken to a little square room by immigration authorities. Technically when you land, before you leave Customs, you’re not anywhere. [It’s] this weird space where you go through the passport control. You’re in an architectural space that’s been defined as nowhere in the world. Then the whole absurdity of borders themselves, like the border between Israel and Jordan was made up by Winston Churchill, and he made jokes about it, saying “I just invented a country!”

What do you see as the significance of performing this work in such a globalized world, where travel is so much more accessible than it once was and so many more people are traveling?
When you start talking about these little stories or human stories, what you have is a huge global theme but [told] through specific details about a very specific person. What the show tries to do is make very human what it is to cross a border, from being on a plane and being completely unconscious of what’s going on underneath you to people trying to get across for a better life.

Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental: 17 Border Crossings
Connecticut Premiere
Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 8pm
CFA Theater
$19 general public; $17 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

An Outside the Box Theater Series event presented by the Theater Department and the Center for the Arts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Public Invited to MxCC for ConnSCU’s Hazard Mitigation Plan Presentation and Discussion Feb. 24

A public forum to discuss the development of a recent Hazard Mitigation Plan will be held at Middlesex Community College (MxCC) on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 from 4-5 p.m. in Conference Room 808B in Chapman Hall.

This Multi-Campus Hazard Mitigation Plan is currently being developed by the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (ConnSCU) which includes the state’s 12 Community Colleges and Charter Oak State College, as well as the 4 state Universities.. The purpose of the Hazard Mitigation Plan is to assist local campuses in recognizing and reducing risks caused by natural hazards, identify actions to prevent damage to property and loss of life, and prioritizing funding for mitigation efforts. The project is made possible thanks to a grant from the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

At the meeting on February 24th a brief presentation will be given to detail the work done up-to-date and a planning committee will be present to answer community questions. All MxCC students, faculty, staff, and members of the surrounding communities are invited and encouraged to attend the open forum to help gather and provide feedback for further implantation of the project at both MxCC’s Middletown and Meriden campuses.

While natural disasters cannot be prevented, the continued implementation of strategies within the Hazard Mitigation Plan will make MxCC and the other ConnSCU campuses more sustainable and resilient to possible disasters.

Middlesex Community College’s Main Campus is located at 100 Training Hill Road, Middletown, CT 06457.