November 19th, 2010
My family and I recently spent the evening viewing African animals, glaciers, icebergs, and choreography by Professor of Dance Maida Withers. In the Washington, D.C. premiere of Farewell, the End of the World as We Know It OR Dancing Your Way to Paradise, Withers dramatically performed a multi-media piece that reflected her ongoing interests in ecology and the environment.
Conceived, choreographed, and performed by Withers, the piece was illustrated by visually delightful images from across the globe that flashed behind her as she danced. I was intrigued by the international influences and fascinated by the resulting composition. With other members of the Maida Withers Dance Construction Company, Withers has performed sections of this project in New York and Salt Lake City as well as abroad in Nairobi, Kenya, and Rio de Janerio.
If you’re on campus this weekend, be sure to catch Fall Danceworks, which will feature choreography by faculty, including Withers, and students. Performances will continue November 19, and 20 at the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre.
November 3rd, 2010
Did you know the GW Documentary Center has been making films for more than 20 years? Named one of the top ten programs in the nation for documentary filmmaking, the Documentary Center is one of only a few to focus exclusively on non-fiction film.
At its anniversary celebration last week, I rubbed elbows with filmmakers, Emmy award-winners, and former students. Many of the more than 350 graduates who trained with the Institute for Documentary Filmmaking turned out for the event. The Institute has drawn students from Bangladesh, Somalia, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Uganda, and other countries across the globe. Center Director Nina Gilden Seavey also screened her new feature 4th and Goal, a compelling story that charted the six-year journeys of four young men in their quest to make it to the NFL. Maybe Nina, an Emmy award-winning documentarian and Columbian College alumnus (MA ’91), will garner another award for this wonderful piece of work.
Happy anniversary to all those who made this program such a success. Here’s to another 20 years of exceptional non-fiction storytelling!
October 28th, 2010
Photograph by Zain Shah.
Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance Dana Tai Soon Burgess opened his new performance Charlie Chan and the Mystery of Love last Friday to much anticipation thanks to a feature story in The Washington Post. In this autobiographical piece, Dana’s choreography reveals a glimpse into his childhood in Santa Fe, where he grew up watching and admiring Charlie Chan on television. The fluid movements of his dancers were exquisite and brought to life this profound coming-of-age story. Dana’s play received rave reviews this week by The Post’s Sarah Kaufman, who concluded that “with this work, [Dana Tai Soon Burgess] deserved to be crowned poet laureate of Washington dance.”
October 25th, 2010
“One of the themes in Oleanna is the relationship between power and language and therefore between fact and language: Those in power control the language and, therefore, control its meaning, its effect and its relationship to the truth.”
—Theatre Professor Alan Wade
Recently, GW’s Main Stage opened its season with David Mamet’s Oleanna, produced by the Department of Theatre and Dance and directed by Theatre Professor Alan Wade. The production featured four nights of performances: one by the Alpha cast, one by the Omega cast, and, in an interesting experiment, two shows were performed by a combination of players from each of the two casts. The experiment was fascinating to watch as the actors did not rehearse together prior to the performance. In front of our eyes, they created their own staging as their lines unfolded. I was very impressed with the student actors’ abilities to adapt in the moment to their scene partners.
Keep an eye out for Main Stage’s upcoming performances. Don’t miss William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, premiering Halloween weekend!
August 30th, 2010
National Council Advisory Group member Ron Pump, BA ’64, recently asked, “Is there concern given the current economic maelstrom that ‘the arts’ will suffer? Will there be poets tomorrow to soothe the minds, artists whose canvasses capture the beauty and nuance of the human spirit, or novelists who enrich and excite our imagination?”
I am convinced that there will continue to be actors that bring life to the angst and triumph of the human condition—and among them will be the talented graduates of the Academy for Classical Acting Program. The academy, a collaboration between the Shakespeare Theatre and the Columbian College, has trained more than 140 actors in classical acting over the years. This summer, our students performed in two productions: King Lear by William Shakespeare and The Malcontent by John Marston. The photos in this post show the MFA graduates as they celebrate the conclusion of the incredibly intense year they spent focused completely on classical acting.
July 15th, 2010
International Emerging Filmmakers Fellowship 2010
Last week, The GW Documentary Center wrapped up the 2010 International Emerging Flimmakers Fellowship Program. Twenty finalists—10 women and 10 men—were selected to participate out of 251 filmmakers from 56 countries who applied. They spent six weeks in DC, traveling from places like Morocco, Nicaragua, India (Kashmir), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Brazil, Armenia, Malaysia, Uganda, Pakistan, South Africa, Colombia, Egypt, Rwanda, Nepal, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Kyrgyzstan, Ghana, and Cambodia.
These individuals are the new thought leaders and storytellers of the 21st century. They were challenged, tested, and asked to move past the difficulties of language, pre-determined political opinions, and cultural divides. The resulting films are a collection of their ideas, peoples, and value systems.
The fellowship program, launched in 2008, reflects GW’s belief in international dialogue and the truly global impact of public diplomacy. The 2010 Fellowship was made possible by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State and the generous in kind support of the Panasonic Corporation of America. We are proud to be part of bringing together this creative international talent to our campus!
Watch the 2010 International Emerging Filmmakers Fellowship video from the Center for Innovative Media.
July 9th, 2010
I had lunch with alumna Vanessa Matlin last week, and she presented me with an autographed copy of her Gloriously Gluten-Free cookbook. The inscription read:
“Dear Dean Barratt,
I truly owe all of my success with this book to the inspiring professors I had during my time at GW. I only hope I can give back to future students as much as I was given during my time at GW. Enjoy the recipes.”
It was so gratifying to read and hear about how her 2005 BA in Journalism helped jumpstart her successful career as a writer. In addition to the cookbook, Vanessa is the author of the Beyond Rice Cakes: A Young Person’s Guide to Cooking, Eating & Living Gluten-Free, and she is the food and lifestyle editor of Delight Gluten-Free magazine. Her website, Celiac Princess, is devoted to educating people about Celiac Disease and full of helpful information and gluten-free recipes. A strong advocate for people with gluten-intolerance, Vanessa spent seven months in culinary school to learn and to increase knowledge of nutrition and food allergies in the culinary profession.
July 6th, 2010
Dean Barratt and President of Steinway Piano Gallery David Slan.
I dreamed of Bach and concertos last week—our Department of Music received an anonymous gift of 28 Steinway pianos, making The George Washington University one of only 100 “all-Steinway Universities” in the country.
This magnificent gift will be such a treat for our talented students and help build our growing music program. We could not be more grateful to our mystery donor for his or her generosity and commitment. My Executive Associate Dean and former Chair of the Department of Music, Roy Guenther, said it best: “I never dreamed that something like this would be possible.”
During move-in day early last week, the pianos caused quite a stir in the halls. We literally widened the door on one room so that we could move in the gorgeous baby grand piano, and employed some creative rearranging in our music rooms to accommodate our glorious gifts.
To our gracious donor, please accept our special thanks for the pianos and for your scholarship support. The American-made Steinway pianos are a welcome addition to GW, especially as we celebrate the Department of Music’s 50th anniversary this year.