'Men-Jaro' performers taking part in residency work

dance performanceDancers and musicians staging the African-flavored “Men-Jaro: Friendship” at SUNY Oswego will give workshops and presentations for classes and the community on Jan. 30 and 31.

The Artswego production, showcasing music with roots in traditional styles joining the work of South African choreographer Vincent Mantsoe, will unfold at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

“Men-Jaro” is South African slang for friendship. The touring performance has gained international recognition, with South Africa’s The Star noting that “out of the glorious melody emerges a chevron of five multi-racial dancers . . . connected by an invisible thread of rhythm, a shared membrane of humanity.” 

The production also features the Traditional African Orchestra, South Africa’s first professional orchestra playing indigenous instruments. Members of TAO will perform an original score by South African composer Anthony Caplan.

Artswego and the college’s Office of International Education and Programs will sponsor a residency program where the visiting artists share their expertise and thoughts on the creative field.

At 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, in the Lee Hall Dance Studio, Mantsoe will conduct a master dance class for intermediate to advanced students on how he integrates African movement, ritual and music with contemporary forms of dance. He will discuss the idea of dancers connecting with their inner energies and creating personal rhythms. For more information or to register for the master dance class, contact Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell at cmitche1@oswego.edu or 312-2339. There is a fee of $15; SUNY Oswego students participate for free.

A panel discussion, “Global Arts Expression,” will focus on the increasing globalization of the arts at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 in Room 102 of Tyler Hall. Panelists will include Mantsoe, Caplan, Neelika Jayawardane of SUNY Oswego’s English and creative writing department and Wilkens-Mitchell, an Oswego dance faculty member and director of the Onondaga Dance Institute. Steve Rosow, director of SUNY Oswego’s global and international studies program, will moderate.

Caplan will lead a discussion on composing contemporary music for traditional instruments at 10:20 a.m. Jan. 31 in Room 208 in Tyler Hall. Caplan has researched, taught and co-written a book documenting the traditional music of South Africa. The master percussionist has broad experience playing and making instruments indigenous to South Africa. Attendance will be open to the public but require advance permission from class instructor Rob Auler by e-mailing auler@oswego.edu.

For the Jan. 31 evening performance, tickets cost $22 ($18 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students). For reservations, contact Tyler box office at 312-2141 or tickets@oswego.edu.

This performance of Company Vincent Mantsoe is made possible by a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program. It is also funded in part by the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided additional funding.

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(Posted: Jan 17, 2007)