For two days, Pedro Alejandro will convert the Center for the Arts concrete-
and limestone-walled terrace into a green, grassy soft space.
Alejandro explores the theme of eco-aesthetics in an upcoming performance
titled “No Eggshells/ Outside.” The performance begins at 8 p.m. May 5 and 6
on the Center for the Arts Terrace (Rain date May 8). All participants are
volunteers from the dance, theater and music departments.
Eggshells/ Outside” is an experimental performance relating to Alejandro’s
research interests on sustainability, the political economy of ‘softness’ of
Modern Dance’s conceptual apparatus; and the relationship between the
animalistic and spiritual components in the meta-kinetic development of
“In this performance, we are establishing a relationship to the principle of
softness in nature. We focus on eggs as a metaphor because they have a hard
outer shell and a soft, interior that carries the potential for life,”
Alejandro explains. “We use grass to soften the hard concrete to recreate
the power of that metaphor and conjure the yielding principles that allow
natural forms to enter our imaginary. And the dancers’ movements explore the
physical and psychic experience of arriving at softness through their own
Everything from the terrace’s grounds, walls and stair railings will be
lined with grass. Marcela Oteiza, adjunct assistant professor of theater,
will be creating a live video feed during the performance that brings other
sites where the dancers have worked into this performance.
This summer, as a recipient of a Mellon Summer Research grant, Alejandro
will continue to research the ecological theme in the Dominican Republic
with a project titled “Thunderous Light.”
With the assistance the Dominican Blind Association, he has worked with
blind musicians, “Luz Del Sonido” (‘Sound of Light’), to develop a movement
curriculum that extends the meta-kinectic capabilities of these blind
performers. The ‘Thunderous Light” project will use of piston/friction floor
technology developed to make electricity from the dancing of human bodies.
Piston technology has been used effectively to recycle energy vibration from
moving bodies and generate off-the-grid electricity in Rotterdam by the
Dutch architectural firm of Henk Döll and Enviu, innovators on
He hopes the movements will attract a diverse audience, including
sociologists, scientists and robotic engineers.
“The emphasis in that project is on the civic performance of the body’s
energy as a social regulating mechanism directed at the inefficiency of
capital accumulation in articulating ecological desires,” Alejandro
explains. “In harnessing the energy derived from moving bodies, and blind
dancing bodies to be exact in this example, the Dominican cultural body in
performance is invited to enact civic ecological preoccupations that link
cultural production with economic development.”
Like “No Eggshells,” Alejandro will investigate the productive uses of human
energy and animality to generate eco-aesthetic wealth in the political
economy of ‘softness.’ He hopes “Thunderous Light” will stimulate
inter-disciplinary study and discussions about the conversion of bodily
energy into ecologically useful technology. He also hopes the work will
highlight connections between dance studies, architecture, and regional
planning in the Caribbean and worldwide.
“This work has evolved into an ethnographic and historical investigation
into the ecology of modernity as both a symbolic activity and a cultural
practice, through the lenses of dance,” he explains.
In addition to kicking off this year-long performance project that has been
in the making for five years, in the Dominican Republic, Alejandro and two
student research assistants, Brittany Delany ’09 and Antonia Craige '09, will
conduct archival research on two prominent Dominican dance anthropologists
at the National Archives in the Caribbean. The students also will conduct
site-specific research on the cultural performance of Caribbean ecologism
"I can think of no other
professor/scholar/artist/performer/writer/ethnographer/creative force who
makes our campus move as well other than Pedro," says Delany. "He actively
practices an enthusiasm for life, people, animals, art, nature. He’s
down-to-earth, radical, funny, and real, and his ability to articulate tough
concepts and intersecting components calls for the sophisticated student
body Wesleyan encourages."
Through the continuation of this research, Alejandro hopes to develop a
environmental performance course titled “Caribbean Performance and Ecologism,”
where students and faculty of various disciplines would participate in
research and study of Caribbean cultural practices and ecologism.
“By combining environmental studies, economics, dance, music, history, and
language studies, students would be immersed in cultural communities and
agencies that enhance the deep understanding of Caribbean consciousness and
ecologically sustainable cultural production,” he explains.