When members of New York City’s Ben Munisteri Dance Projects take the stage at the Williams Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, they’ll be performing at least one work to music composed by three Lafayette students, a rare privilege afforded to young talent.
“They’re serious compositions,” says Munisteri, who was an artist in residence at Lafayette in 2005. “I didn’t ask for a genre or a tune or a key. I left it completely up to the students.”
Originally the dance Catalog, first performed at the Damrosch Theater at New York’s Lincoln Center Out of Doors last August, had been choreographed to three songs by the English rock band Radiohead. But the group had granted Munisteri only a one-time use of its music.
Munisteri then called Ellis Finger, director of the Williams Center for the Arts, who referred him to Kirk O’Riordan, assistant professor of music and director of bands, who selected the student composers.
“It’s a difficult challenge,” O’Riordan says of the project. “You have to align musical events with existing movements. This was something I would have jumped at as a professional.”
Andy Feldman ’11 (Middletown, N.J.), a mechanical engineering major; Kara Enz ’13 (Milford, N.J.), a psychology major; and Samuel Friedman ’11 (Rochester, N.Y.), who is pursuing an A.B. with a major in music and a B.S. in electrical and computer engineering, created the music while watching an online video of the dance and then worked with O’Riordan to refine the composition. Each student composed their own section of the three-part dance.
“It’s definitely amazing to have something you wrote actually be performed by professional musicians,” says Friedman.
Ben Munisteri Dance Projects will perform five works during the performance including Tuesday, 4 a.m., which was conceived during Munisteri’s residency at Lafayette. “It’s kind of whimsical and funny,” says Munisteri.
Tickets are free for Lafayette students, $6 for students at LVAIC schools, $5 for faculty and staff, and $15 for the public. They can be obtained by calling the Williams Center box office at (610) 330-5009.
As part of his current Lafayette residency, Munisteri and fellow dancer Katie Weir will be giving a special movement class for students in the theater course taught Michael O’Neill, associate professor of English and chair of theater, from 1:15-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, and a dance masterclass that is open to all students from 7:30-9 p.m. Both workshops are in room 136 of Kirby Sports Center.
This is the first performance in the 2010-11 Footlights Series. Other performances include Philadanco, Nov. 12, $20; The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s The Complete World of Sports, Nov. 16, $20; Lar Lubovitch Dance Company’s Jazz Trilogy, Feb. 3, $20; and Viver Brasil’s Feet on the Ground, March 24, $22. A $70 subscription package for the four events (The Reduced Shakespeare Company is a non-subscription event) is available through Sept. 15.
The 2010–2011 Performance Series at Lafayette College is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by provisions of the Josephine Chidsey Williams Endowment, the J. Mahlon and Grace Buck Fund, the Croasdale Fund, the Dr. Aaron O. Litwak ’42 Fund, the Class of ’73 Fund, the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, the James Bradley Fund, and the Ed Brunswick Jazz Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and National Dance Project/New England Foundation for the Arts. Special thanks to the F.M. Kirby Foundation for its sustaining support.