November Convening: "Present Traditions: Performance Curation and Cultural Exchange in a Global Era", thoughts by alumna Jessica Wasilewski

November 28, 2018 by Jessica Wasilewski

As part of the November Intensive, ICPP hosted an international convening in conjunction with the venue of the Sultan of Yogyakarta and his court at Wesleyan University. The convening gathered a series of U.S.- and Southeast Asia- based curators, artists, and scholars, including Keng Sen Ong, Rifda Amalia, Yoko Shioya, Liz Behrend, Kim Jin Hi, Ugoran Prasad, and others.  

Jessica Wasilewski, ICPP MA '17 and Senior Producer at the Park Avenue Armory, reflects on her participation to the convening and on the performance by the court dancers and musicians in light of her expertise on questions of cultural exchange and performing arts initiatives across the U.S. and Southeast Asia: 

"Perhaps like some of you reading this, I have always felt most at home in a darkened theater watching performance. Watching dance, in particular, brings me comfort, even when the work addresses or explores fundamentally challenging ideas and topics. I am fulfilled by human-to-human transference of energy through movement, without using (or using only limited) spoken verbal communication. I was surprised to discover a similar comfort, a similar contentment even, while researching and writing my thesis as a master’s student at ICPP from 2015-2017. Having permission to express myself in the written word and to explore ideas deeply personal to me revealed simultaneous relief and stimulation.

My thesis research examined the conditions for dynamic cultural exchange through the performing arts, particularly in festival formats in the United States. I focused on three U.S.-Asia initiatives taking place in the U.S. roughly a decade apart from each other: Festival of Indonesia In Performance (1990-1992), an 18-month, nation-wide performance festival featuring twelve music, dance, and drama groups from Indonesia performing traditional, classical, and contemporary work; Dance, the Spirit of Cambodia (2001), a presentation of dance and music performance, both classical and folk, from Cambodia in a two-month tour of twelve U.S. cities; and Season of Cambodia (2013), a two-month festival initiated by Cambodian Living Arts that presented the work of 125 Cambodian performers, filmmakers, and visual artists in 34 New York City venues. This line of research is quite niche, or so I thought until the invitation to attend ICPP’s “Present Traditions: Performance Curation and Cultural Exchange” convening arrived in my inbox.

A convening held in conjunction with a visit from  Hamengkubuwono X, the Sultan of Yogyakarta in Indonesia, and centering on discussions of “tradition” and the presentation of traditional body practices in contemporary performance, felt like an immediate connection to and direct extension of my time at Wesleyan. I was primed to present some of my research prompts and findings with the group.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the number of intimate connections I would make with peers, current ICPP students, prospective ICPP students, and Wesleyan and ICPP faculty and staff due to our shared experiences and interests. My thesis advisor, Rachel Cooper (Director of Global Performing Arts and Special Cultural Initiatives, Asia Society, New York), attended a portion of the convening, and Anderson Sutton (Dean, School of Pacific and Asian Studies & Assistant Vice Chancellor for International and Exchange Programs, University of Hawaii), who was on the planning committee for the Festival of Indonesia In Performance, was in the room, too. ICPP founder Sam Miller was very much present in spirit, and I couldn’t help but revisit the countless conversations he and I had about the identification, preservation, and development of traditional, classical, and contemporary art practices in Cambodia, as well as some personal advice he shared with me a few years back – that the harvest you sow today results from the seeds you planted several years ago.

The highlight among highlights of the convening for me was experiencing a performance by the court dancers and musicians of Yogyakarta in Crowell Concert Hall. The final work on the program was a rare performance of the Bedhoyo, a sacred classical Javanese court dance performed by nine female dancers and accompanied by the instruments of the Gamelan. The movement was performed at a luxuriously slow pace, allowing for appreciation of the intricacies of the choreography, the ornateness of the classical dress, and contemplation of the intention of the work: to align various aspects of the universe – the heavens, the human world, and the earth. Experiencing the Bedhoyo in person was an incredibly special and transformative experience, not just because of the rarity of the performance of the artform outside of Yogyakarta courts, and not just because it brought me “home” to a darkened theater at Wesleyan, but because it – and the convening – encouraged a critical expansion of the notion of “tradition” and revealed, unsurprisingly, the importance of face-to-face, people-to-people interaction in efforts of cultural exchange.  

I remain passionate about the work I began with my thesis research and continue to consider sustainable ways of responsibly presenting international performance work – whether traditional, classical, contemporary, or otherwise. I hope that by reflecting on cultural exchange initiatives such as Festival of Indonesia In Performance;, Dance, the Spirit of Cambodia;, and Season of Cambodia and by engaging in ongoing open-minded dialogue with colleagues, artists, and academics, successful methods of promoting cultural exchange through the performing arts can be revealed and applied not only among diverse nations, but among more localized populations as well, celebrating the diversity that exists within our own U.S.-based communities.

Thank you to the amazing ICPP staff, as well as the Ford Foundation, for the opportunity to participate in this convening and for prioritizing this very relevant conversation."


At MoMA, How Judson Blew Up the Rules of Dance

September 11, 2018 by Siobhan Burke

Bravx curators Thomas Lax (ICPP faculty) and Ana Janevski for the beauty and care in “Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done.”

Doris Duke Foundation Supports ICPP's Performing Artist Case Studies

July 28, 2018 by Olivia Drake

This summer, students seeking a master’s degree in performance curation from Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) are working on the first of six performing artist case studies funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

On July 16, the ICPP Entrepreneurial Strategies class discussed the first artist — Becca Blackwell, an award-winning trans actor, performer and writer based in New York City. Blackwell is working with consultants and mentors at ICPP to develop a strategic framework for the next two to five years of their career. Blackwell will also be presenting their work at Wesleyan on October 5.

Click here to view photos of the class.

NEFA's National Dance Project announces annual awards

Congratulations to NEFA's National Dance Project award winners, including ICPP alum Jaamil Olawale Kosoko!

Ford Foundation grant supports curatorial mini-intensives at Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance

Apply for a curatorial mini-intensive at Wesleyan University’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance in July 2018! Applications will be reviewed starting May 31, 2018 and will continue until the positions are filled. The curatorial mini-intensive provides accommodation and a modest travel stipend. Click here for more details.

7 Students Graduate with MA Degrees from Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance

May 27, 2018 by Olivia Drake

On May 27, seven students graduated with a Master of Arts in Performance Curation through the Center for the Arts Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP).

Since being introduced as a pilot initiative in 2011, ICPP has graduated 16 students from the ICPP Master’s program (including this year’s class). ICPP encourages emerging curators to enrich their understanding of intellectually rigorous, innovative, and artist-centered curatorial models. Through a low-residency model, ICPP asks its students to not only engage with ideas but also to simultaneously put those ideas into practice in their professional lives, developing responsive curatorial practices that address the interdisciplinary nature of performance work today.

The mix of ICPP instructors—artists, scholars, curators, cultural leaders, writers, and theorists—is intended to spark new possibilities and connections both intellectually and professionally. Instructors provide theoretical and practical tools for students to deepen their research methodologies through reading, writing, viewings, and discussion.

The degree recipients include Michèle Steinwald ’13, Ellina Kevorkian, Ali Rosa-Salas, Brian Hyunsuk Lee ’13, Katrina De Wees, Rachel Scandling, and Michelle Daly. Steinwald and Kevorkian were unable to attend the commencement ceremony.

Following the 186th Commencement ceremony, the recent alumni gathered for a reception with their friends and family at the Center for the Arts. 

Click here to view photos of the event (Photos by Tom Dzimian).

Sam Miller (1952-2018)

May 18, 2018 by Judy Hussie-Taylor

Judy Hussie-Taylor, Executive Director and Chief Curator of Danspace Project, and Program Advisor and faculty at the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University, writes about the passing of Sam Miller in Artforum.

Click here for the full article.

Sam Miller, ICPP Co-founder & Director

May 15, 2018 by Sarah Curran

A message from Sarah Curran, Managing Director of ICPP and Director of the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan, on the passing of Sam Miller

ICPP Receives $200,000 Grant from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

May 7, 2018 by Camille De Beus

The University’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) recently received a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) in an effort to inspire a dialogue about the new economy of the performing arts.

"Tell them everything you know." Bessie Schönberg to Sam Miller (1952-2018)

May 3, 2018 by Judy Hussie-Taylor

Sam Millerwith Ralph Lemon and David Thomson at Danspace's 2011 Gala

Sam Miller with Ralph Lemon and David Thomson at Danspace's 2011 Gala

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Supports ICPP's Performing Artist Case Studies

April 28, 2018 by Olivia Drake

Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) has been awarded a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

The grant will be used to support performing artist case studies, working with artists at critical points in their careers to provide analysis of their entrepreneurial strategies, as well as engagement with the economic drivers of cultural production. This funding will further ICPP’s efforts to bring to light different models for artist development, and highlight successful tactics for philanthropic support over the arc of their career. Findings developed during the case studies, including best practices and replicable models, will be shared via a website and print publication, as well as at various conferences.

Ford Foundation Supports Wesleyan's Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance

February 1, 2018 by Olivia Drake

Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) received a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.

The award will support a new leadership fellowship program; three curatorial mini-intensives for prospective students; and two global curatorial forums designed to bring an international perspective to the discussion and dissemination of best practices and forge a global network of performing arts curators. This funding will further ICPP’s efforts to advance diversity among participants and to amplify the graduate program’s impact on the field of performance.


Image above: Sam Miller (1952-2018) in class with ICPP students, 2017