Hop Fwd - Spring 2024

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Spring 2024

arts-powered research in action

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Hop Fwd, a new platform dedicated to exploring the fascinating realm where arts and research converge. In each edition, we will explore the immense potential arts-powered solutions hold for addressing complex societal challenges and driving positive change for humanity. From artificial intelligence inspiring theater to the ways in which dance enriches our understanding of ecological issues, Hop Fwd will share insightful articles, interviews and features that showcase how the arts power innovative research.

“Join us as we explore the boundless possibilities at the intersection of the worlds of arts, sciences and humanities.”
Mary Lou Aleskie, Howard Gilman ’44 Executive Director

Ashlee Robinson Marketing and Communications Designer


Samantha Lazar Curator of Academic Programming

Brian Messier

Director of Bands, Senior Liaison for Hopkins Center Ensembles

Alyssa Noseworthy ’24

Hop Fellow

Fourier’s Box

the history of sound, color television, computers and radio wave entertainment

Editorial Board

Mary Lou Aleskie

Howard Gilman ‘44 Executive Director

Michael Bodel

Director of External Affairs

Terry Duane Senior Marketing Manager

Graduate Student Carson Levine’s Art Integration Project C-1392: explores

Last fall, Richard Move’s Herstory of the Universe@Dartmouth took us on a journey celebrating our natural environment and Earth’s resilience with breathtaking dance. The site-specific work brought together elements of mythology and science while drawing inspiration from the college’s surroundings. The work began at the Dartmouth Outing Club with an Indigenous welcome song, then wended its way across the former Dartmouth golf course. Dances inspired by ancient Japanese, Greek and Indian mythological figures engaged with local ecosystems.

Each performance was enriched by discussions with Dartmouth faculty members that further explored the local environment, from the aquatic ecosystem of Occom Pond and the soil of the former golf course, to environmental humanities and post-humanism.

View the discussions and the New York Public Library’s recording of Herstory of the

Photo by Ben DeFlorio Universe@Dartmouth here.

Coral sways, flutters like tree-branches in the current. Beneath the diver’s rhythmic breathing, I hear a soft crackle—like a roaring campfire. I never knew that coral made noise: I’ve never gone scuba diving. But the weight of the mask on my face, the way it curves around my nose and presses into my cheekbones, feels like a pair of goggles all the same.

I tilt my head upwards, then around to stare at the column of endless blue water. The farther I crane my neck, the more the blue encompasses, until there’s nothing but a tiny row of corals to anchor my vision. A bit woozy, I stare back down. Bubbles burst into my line of sight as the diver rises. I break through the water, and…

A red light flashes. My cue to take the virtual reality headset off. Before me stands Meera, gripping the edge of her chair as the police investigator prepares for the next round of questions.

This past Thursday, I had the rare chance to do something I’ve never done before: take in a performance of virtual reality theater. In Frogman, Meera is asked to describe the events leading to her friend Ashley’s disappearance 28 years ago… after her father has been accused of the crime.

The stage is a strip of carpet punctuated by two chairs, giving the audience an intimate view of the actors’ expressions. A determined interrogation, tight-lipped denials, a haunted confession–all of it unfolded only a few feet from where I sat! This closeness is also an implication: far from being passive viewers, the audience is introduced as the jury for the case. And when Meera goes back into her memories, we too are submerged.

Frogman wisely anticipates the benefits and limitations of using VR to tell a story. For example, audiences new to VR (myself included!) will start to feel somewhat nauseous with prolonged exposure. To combat this, the story creates controlled 5–7 minute sequences in VR, giving the audience “breaks” where they instead watch live theater.

Alyssa is the Hop Writing Fellow. She is majoring in French and Spanish Romance Studies. Photo courtesy of the artists

A Professor’s Lecture, A Director’s Play

As part of curious directive’s residency, director Jack Lowe teamed up with Computer Science Professor James Mahoney for Science Night, an informal and exciting peek into the nexus of science and theater. After Mahoney gave a brief overview of some of the exciting ways that he incorporates AI into his artistic work and research, Jack riffed on the science, exploring how he might turn the concepts provoked by the technology into theater on the fly, brainstorming a short treatment for a new play inspired by the research and giving audiences a taste of theater-making in the world of science.

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At the same time, VR has been used to its fullest as a powerful new medium for storytelling. Frogman invites you to take full advantage of the 360 degree scope, whether it’s a voice behind you that makes you turn around, or a character that slips just out of frame if you keep staring straight.

More than that, VR helps navigate one of theater’s biggest challenges: the need to adjust settings and set-pieces for different scenes. Instead, VR becomes a vehicle for memory, allowing us to see Meera’s flashbacks to the summer of 1995. We’re plunged right into a richly imagined childhood room: Lion King posters, pastel bedsheets, a chunky ’90s PC, and an aquarium brimming with all of her favorite fish. Watch closely, though, and you’ll start seeing tiny changes: the rain pattering outside her window one Sunday afternoon, the pizza box for movie night, or sleeping bags brought over for a slumber party.

Going into the show, I expected the murder, the mystery, and the courtroom drama. But what I didn’t expect was that Frogman would be a love

letter to our coral reefs, the realities of small-town life, and the deep grief that can mark a family. In one hour, the performance lays out the tragic and sometimes inexplicable relationships we have to our environment. What drives a man to become a police diver after his wife’s death by drowning? What to make of a young girl, desperate to carve out a piece of red coral that grew when she was born? Frogman sparkles with innocence even as it inevitably snatches it away, and in this liminal space between memory and truth, we’re also forced to think about what it means to witness. How reliable are our memories? How can we be sure of what happens—and can we spend our whole lives wondering?

I’m excited to see how this new genre develops in the coming years, because VR’s ability to center experience, in all of its subjectivity and confusion, is nothing short of revolutionary. Combined with a lyrical script and moving performances, Frogman is a beautiful production that left me contemplating what it meant long after the lights went down.

Jack’s residency in his conversation with Computer Science Professor Lorie Loeb Photo by Michael Bodel

Mexican music and culture are rich, storied and diverse, yet repertoire from Mexico was largely unavailable and underrepresented across the globe. The Hop’s Mexican Repertoire Initiative, spearheaded by Dartmouth Director of Bands and Senior Liaison for Hop Ensembles Brian Messier, is an ongoing commitment to bringing Mexican repertoire to the international stage, providing opportunities for Mexican composers, and combating institutionalized racism in educational and professional performing ensembles.

Fall 2019

Messier (above) begins work at Dartmouth College, bringing his commission of Enrico Chapela. Messier and Chapela plan a Composition Competition for Mexican and US composers.

May 2023

November 2023

Dr. Messier is joined by guest conductor Luis Manuel Sánchez and four student guest artists from UNAM for DCWE’s performance at New England Conservatory’s historic Jordan Hall.

DCWE brings the initiative to Smith College, performing new works by Mexican composers with the Smith College Wind Ensemble.

The second annual MusicMexico Symposium is hosted at the University of Houston (left) with live performances, workshops and discussions.

February 2024

Guest conductor Ricardo Guzmán joined Dr. Messier for DCWE’s MusicMexico performance at the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Convention at Cornell University with guest artists from Mexico City.

Winter 2020

Messier announces the Composition Competition. The resulting body of works creates the foundation of the Mexican Repertoire Collection. Wind Ensemble (DCWE) performs works from the competition including Hop commissions.

May 27 & 28, 2022

The inaugural MusicMexico Symposium featuring concerts, academic sessions and the unveiling of the Mexican Repertoire Collection: an open source, searchable, sortable database of authentic Mexican works. Guest composers included Juan Pablo Contreras, Rodrigo Martinez and Nubia Jaime Donjuan (above).

March 2023

DCWE goes on its first Mexico City Tour, performing alongside the Banda Sinfónica FaM UNAM at Sala Nezahualcoyotl (above) and the CECAMBA Banda Sinfónica in Puebla.

November 2022

Guest conductor Luis Manuel Sánchez (above) from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) joined Dr. Messier for DCWE’s fall performance, ushering in a partnership between the DCWE and the UNAM Banda Sinfonica.

Messier and composer Enrico Chapela launch an online composition course for Mexican composers on composing for US style wind bands. Messier recruits an affiliated coalition of US Institutions and Mexican partners to become the Mexican Composer Incubation Coalition.

May 16–18, 2024

The third annual MusicMexico Symposium will be held at the University of Texas in El Paso.

Photos L to R, top to bottom by Lindsey Topham, Ben DeFlorio, Brian Messier, Katie Lenhart, Eric Berlin, Annie Branch

November 5. The bus crackles with excitement as we’re greeted by the shimmering Boston skyline. Here, the Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble (DCWE) will take stage at the New England Conservatory alongside special guests—student artists from UNAM, the Autonomous University of Mexico.

The audience begins to pour into Jordan Hall. The lights dim, and the noise dwindles down. The conductor stands poised at the podium. There’s always that electric moment of anticipation where all eyes hang on the baton suspended in motion, and then there’s the plummet of the downbeat and silence erupts into song.

Emi Nishida’s In the Night We Saw a Shadow is jazz at its liveliest: boisterous saxophones, groovy syncopation, breezy notes that seem to just float down the stage. It’s timeless, the 1920s and 2020s rolled into one.

And then, the next piece plunges me right into the barrios of Mexico City. It’s a tapestry of sound but slowly, your ear pulls on different threads—the percussive pulse of cumbia music, the honks of cars in traffic, a roiling crescendo as we pass to yet another neighborhood. Ciudad Dormitorio, by Erick Tapia, is the story of a commuter city, the constant

flow of citygoers between the center and the suburbs that sprawl around it. Where you live is not where you work. And in that way, it parallels the commuter city it’s being performed in: Boston. That led me to think about the concert’s title, Be Glad Then, America. First and foremost, it’s an allusion to William Schumann’s New England Triptych. But when DCWE Conductor Brian Messer named the program, it was also a question: what is Americana? How do we conceive of it?

By only considering the United States, we have an incomplete image of the dynamic exchanges between all the Americas—from New Hampshire to Mexico City. It was this idea that started the Mexican Music Repertoire Initiative at Dartmouth, and which brought us here today.

The other pieces dazzle: a meditative melody weaves through Calypso’s grief for Odysseus, and for the finale, an exhilarating arrangement of Galician folk tunes. And suddenly, the whole hall seems to be holding its breath as the last note lingers in the air…

The crowd erupts into a standing ovation. And I am glad, because in this journey of many miles, friends crossed borders and languages to come together and make music.

Photo by Annie Branch

At the heart of Mary Lou Aleskie’s work at the Hop are four words: “Everybody in, nobody out.”

The ambitious principle is inspired by Patrick Hayes, founder of the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA). And while inclusivity was a radical ask at a time when segregation was still legal and globalization did not exist, Hayes managed to lay the foundation for the inclusivity that would drive ISPA’s work today. Following in these footsteps Aleskie leans into the power of the arts to elevate social justice issues, tackle controversial themes, and support emerging artists and underheard voices. She also seeks to inspire these humanist philosophies in younger generations of arts leaders.

The Hop’s Fellowship program, for example, shows students how their creativity can be formative to their identity, inspire others and forge communities on campus and at large.

And this support for young artists is, in part, why Aleskie was honored with the 2024 Hayes Award this year. The committee described her as “a visionary leader, [whose] leadership role at organizations across the United States is only matched by her commitment to mentoring young professionals in the performing arts.”

Aleskie was handed her award earlier this winter by Hayes’ daughter, Elizabeth, and introduced by former ISPA colleague and mentor Benson Puah, the founder of The Esplanade, Singapore’s answer to Lincoln Center. It was Benson who truly kicked open ISPA’s doors to the world, with conferences in Singapore, Durban and Sao Paolo.

The International Society for the Performing Arts aims to strengthen the performing arts globally through the advancement of leadership, the exchange of ideas and by fostering a diverse and engaged membership.

At the Hop, Aleskie is throwing open doors of her own, not only for international exchange, but also for interdisciplinary dialogue. “Artists are creative forces,” she says, “and to put them in singular boxes is very difficult. As more capacity is available to individual artists, they’re creating new disciplines and pioneering new artistic platforms to create their work. Besides, artists are our prophets in society.”

This inclusivity entails amplifying underrepresented voices that would otherwise be left unheard; providing artists with access to technology and resources that allow them to innovate; and ensuring there is space for everyone to be included in the conversation. “The arts lie at the heart of the kind of brave encounters our campus community is prioritizing today,” says Aleskie. “The arts build our capacity for profound listening and for learning deep and felt experiences.”

Today, Aleskie continues to be guided by Hayes’ credo, “Everybody in, nobody out,” which is also encapsulated in the vision for the new Hop: “welcome, gather, create.” She envisions a space where all are welcomed, where connections are formed and people are dared to contribute to the vibrant tapestry of artistic expression. In celebrating Aleskie’s remarkable achievements, we also celebrate the enduring spirit of community, creativity and collaboration that lies at the heart of the Hop. “This philosophy is something to live into,” says Aleskie. “It requires constant learning, listening and re-evaluation. And it is so worth it.”

Elizabeth Hayes, Mary Lou Aleskie and Benson Puah at the 2024 ISPA awards ceremony. Photo: Juan Patino Photography

In 2021, the Hop and the Vice Provost for Research launched an annual initiative to support arts-centric research with funding from the Provost’s office. Through the initiative, many faculty and students have brought their ideas to life, incubating interdisciplinary projects and enriching disparate areas of study. The projects follow threads in many disciplines, including sociology, wellness, social media, linguistics, theater, artificial intelligence and the environment.

Featured Project

globalization health feminism energy world music practices comparativeliterature AfricanAmericanstudies a nthropology geography ceramics artifcial intelligence
Judith & Her Maidservant by Artemisia Gentileschi, 1607, references: Lazzeri, Castello, et al; Lazzeri, Pozzlli, et al; Ferriss

$ 300,000+ awarded over 3 years

135+ applications for funding

30+ projects funded

Get a glimpse into some of the projects implemented so far

Hop Integration Project teaches medicine through art

“A viewer of art should treat each work as a ‘patient’ they must examine.”

As you click onto the website, “Learning Medicine Through Classical Art,” this sentence greets you. It’s an invitation, and perhaps a radical one. In many ways, the disciplinary divide between arts and science seems ingrained. But what if we centered observation?

That’s the concept behind this digital archive, which displays a history of medicine and its representation by classical artists. A collaboration between Dartmouth Professor Lee Witters and Krista Schemitsch ’24, this project asks the viewer to look in a different light. As Professor Witters puts it, they wanted to create a “living document that people could participate in,” an evolving website that allowed for new additions and topics.

And since art isn’t always literal, neither is medical representation. Some medical conditions gained symbolic meanings, which is why almost all paintings of biblical figure Judith feature her with a characteristically enlarged thyroid gland. She has saved Jerusalem from destruction by beheading an Assyrian general. Her head turned to the side, the butterfly-shaped gland protrudes from her neck in this painting by artist Artemisia Gentileschi. But why? Can a goiter be heroic? Menacing? Maternal?

For Professor Witters, the magic lies in the accidental, “inadvertent” medical representations that arise from art, the cultural codes and understandings that “the artist wasn’t necessarily trying to portray.” At the heart of this project is the need to ask: what can observation tell us about art… and artists?

Visit the project website

Executive Director Mary Lou Aleskie and Curator of Academic Programming Samantha Lazar traveled to Penn State for the annual conference of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru). The conference theme was “What’s Next: Imagining New Educational Futures for Our Communities, and for Our Planet.” Along with our collaborators, Dartmouth Professor of English and Creative Writing Vievee Francis and Stanford Professor of Music Jonathan Berger, they presented on The Ritual of Breath Is the Rite to Resist, as the project prepares to undertake the next leg of its journey. They also shared learnings and brainstormed with colleagues from across the country about the exciting futures of arts, interdisciplinarity and research at our institutions.

“We should not lose our focus on the arts because of our focus on STEM, because the arts are just as important as the sciences… [t]his is a time to revitalize the arts …not only to foster social connection but to bring hope when a lot of people are worried about the future,” said US Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy at the 2023 a2ru conference. Murthy visited Dartmouth last fall for a panel discussion seeking solutions to the national mental health crisis.

Photo by Katie Lenhart

Conversations from the Osage Visit to Dartmouth

It’s 1920: oil found on reservations in Oklahoma makes the Osage nation rich. And targeted. During this time, Indigenous people were not allowed to control their own wealth, declared “incompetent” and placed under white financial “guardians.” As such, their money could be inherited in the event of their deaths…

That is the story of Martin Scorsese’s epic The Killers of the Flower Moon, which screened at the Hop this winter. It’s a dark exposure of corruption, abetted by a justice system not yet able to deliver justice. And yet, it’s not a courtroom drama but the story of a slowly shattering family, and the fraught relationship between Ernest and Mollie Burkhart as tragedy strikes.

The Hop later led a coalition to bring members of the Osage nation to visit Dartmouth. Through a Hood art exhibit, Dartmouth students learned about Standing Rock and the future of indigenous activism, and then engaged in a discussion that brought the deeper truths of the film off-screen.

It’s a “visceral” film, as cultural consultant Marla Redcorn described it. “You’re telling this horrifying story; [but] I feel so much a part of it,” said Marla. And while the dread soaks in and slumps your shoulders as you watch, it also leaves you with the question: what might oil and resource extraction mean in this modern world? Hood curator and member of the Osage Nation, Jami Powell, called for the need to frame these questions in terms of “limitations and possibilities”—the need to explore other ways of being, through alternative energies, safer processes and mutual respect.

The visit from Osage artists ended in this affirmation: Wahzhazhe. It means “always,” and it’s a promise. A promise to keep their traditions alive, a “recognition that Osage have continued to express our culture,” as actor Yancey Red Corn explained. And in the word itself, “always” allows us to examine our past, our present and, most urgently, our future.

This talk was co-sponsored by the Hood Museum of Art, Office of the Provost, the Department of Native American & Indigenous Studies, the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, the Dartmouth Library and the Office of the President.

Photos: top by Robert C. Strong II, bottom courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Innovating the Language of Music

For most, a musical score suggests five-line staves with clefs and time signatures, accidentals and notes: a series of symbols and markings that inform musicians which notes to play and hint at dynamics or timbre. Look through the repertoire of Johnny Gandelsman’s anthology This is America and you will find a different story.

When the Grammy-winning violinist set out to create a body of work that reflects the rich and diverse culture of America in response to the turbulent year of 2020, the musical scores he received were as diverse as the project’s 20-something composers. Some were quite surprising. “One of the things about commissioning new music is that you don’t necessarily know what you’re going to get,” says Johnny.

Take Matana Roberts’ Stitched

With Matana being a visual artist as well as a composer, an element of visual representation was perhaps to be expected. Instead, Johnny was introduced to “endless scores,” a mixed media framework based on a key physiological phenomenon, the “after-image.” Here Johnny looks at a figure of words divided into four sections: Image, Feeling, Action and Direction, then chooses based on the idea of an additional image that continues to appear in his eye, after a period of exposure to an original image. Accompanying the screen of words is the

Matrix, which Johnny describes as offering a flexible container for interpretation. Even the instrumentation is optional. Given this flexibility, Johnny has performed the piece with Dartmouth alum Kojiro Uzemaki ’93 on shakuhachi at his Hop winter concert.

Tardigrades, by composer Nick Dunston, on the other hand, was written specifically for the violin. The piece pays special attention to the instrument’s unconventional parts with some notes calling for pulling the bow without touching any of the strings while tapping the body of the violin in rhythm. Rather than read from left to right as a conventional score would, it follows from box to box. Apart from a few decipherable symbols, the “strange language of the score” (as described by the composer) had to be interpreted by a mutual friend.

Another piece borrows its cues from a radical new language of movement: Gaga. Maya Miro Johnson’s Dance Suite invites the instrumentalist to transpose choreographic prompts into sound. Created by Israeli dancer and choreographer Ohad Naharin, Gaga is “a dance form, a language, a philosophy, a spiritual practice that prioritizes the autonomy of the mover,” or in this case the musician. Movement IV begins with interplay between the violin and the composer’s voice— “Feel a quake beginning in the center of your abdomen. You didn’t put it there, it just began on its own.” Gaga invites artists to develop their own unique pathway, which is how Johnny interpreted and performed the piece.

Through Gandelsman’s adventurous project, we see the format of musical notations undergo twists and turns, propelled by interdisciplinary influence and desire for unfettered artistic expression. These innovations are reshaping how we create, perform and experience music. This evolving landscape promises to unlock new realms of creativity and redefine the boundaries of musical artistry.

Photo by Marco Giannavola
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