Tickets are free for Denison faculty/staff/students and on sale to the general public as available. Tickets online Oct. 21.
Join us for the first Vail Series performance in the new Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts, “When Birds Refused to Fly,” a Baker + Tarpaga Dance Project, choreographed by Olivier Tarpaga.
“When Birds Refused to Fly” is a contemporary, evening-length dance theatre project, set to the music of Orchestra Super Volta. Super Volta’s music reflects the celebratory, post-independence fevers raging across sub-Saharan Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, in stark contrast to the painful struggle African Americans faced during their fight for Civil Rights in the United States. This ensemble piece explores, through music and movement, a generational transformation both cultural and geographic; examining what it is to build up and break down.
This engagement is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Ohio Arts Council and the Crane Group. The presentation of Baker + Tarpaga Dance Project was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Denison’s Vail Concert Series presents Olivier Tarpaga, Esther Tarpaga-Baker and their group, The Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. The group will be in residence at Denison from October 28th until November 2nd. They will perform their project, “When Birds Refused to Fly,” Friday, November 1st at 7pm in Sharon Martin Hall in the Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2019-20 Vail Concert Series.
“When Birds Refused to Fly,” choreographed by Tarpaga, is a dance theater project set to the music of Orchestra Super Volta, a group previously under direction of his father, Abdoulaye Richard Tarpaga. Olivier Tarpaga’s dance project, a National Dance Project awardee, reflects Orchestra Super Volta’s musical representation of the contrast between the celebration of independence in sub-Saharan Africa during the ‘60s and ‘70s and the simultaneous struggle experienced by African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The project seeks to question geographic and cultural identities and transformations of these identities amidst social change. Denison has been awarded a New England Foundation for the Arts Grant for Performing Arts to host Tarpaga and present this project.
Dr. Mathern-Smith, a Denison Professor of Dance, speaks highly of Tarpaga, stating, “Olivier Tarpaga is a multi-talented artist, whose work addresses themes of social justice centered in his personal experiences and convictions as a native Burkinabe. While his work as a choreographer, musician, composer and dancer is truly astounding, it his deep generosity and genuine good will as a human being that stands out most to me.”
As Michael Morris, Director of the Vail Series and director of The Eisner Center adds, “We’re so excited to have Olivier bring this work to Denison. It is a moving piece, and has been playing to sold out houses throughout the tour. In fact they are just coming off of four sold out concerts at Princeton University. This will be a memorable concert for the Denison community”
Tarpaga previously visited Denison in 2015 as part of the Vail Concert Series, sharing cultural aspects of Francophone African nations with students, including his native home of Burkina Faso. During the group’s upcoming time at Denison, Tarpaga will visit Denison dance classes, French classes, and participate in a lunch with the Red Frame Lab, a space focused on student entrepreneurship.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn from world-class artists,” says Morris. “Olivier works across dance, theatre and music—the company engages multiple senses in their performances. This is a wonderful chance for not only our performing arts students, but students in many disciplines to understand the historic, social, political and artistic aspects of this project.”
Written by Rosa Canales ‘20