HOOP OF LIFE: Music and Dance from Ojibwa/Oneida with Ty Defoe (4/24 at 4:30PM)

HOOP OF LIFE with Ty Defoe/ Gi izhig (Oneida/Ojibwe Nations)Ty_Defoe

This event will include interactive tribal songs and flute, hoop, and eagle dances. This unique program explores stories within a framework of traditional and contemporary culture, history, and values. Ty draws on his vast repertoire gifted to him weaves urban anecdotes and teachings that can be applied to ideas of shape-shifting and how this relates to identity. Walking in multiple worlds on earth is what Ty carries as he  weaves stories and humanity together. Storytelling is often discovered with a presenting a message. For example the Sacred Hoop Dance is a metaphor that gives a message of people creating unity. The four colors of the hoops are symbols of interdependence and unity – the four human races, the four seasons, the four directions of the compass. As the Hoops move they speak of renewed creation of all of the universe.

Upper Tarble


April 24, 2018


Ty Defoe: Hoops of Life (4/24 @ 4:30PM)

Ty_DefoeHOOP OF LIFE with Ty Defoe/ Gi izhig (Oneida/Ojibwe Nations)

This event will include interactive tribal songs and flute, hoop, and eagle dances. This unique program explores stories within a framework of traditional and contemporary culture, history, and values. Ty draws on his vast repertoire gifted to him weaves urban anecdotes and teachings that can be applied to ideas of shape-shifting and how this relates to identity. Walking in multiple worlds on earth is what Ty carries as he  weaves stories and humanity together. Storytelling is often discovered with a presenting a message. For example the Sacred Hoop Dance is a metaphor that gives a message of people creating unity. The four colors of the hoops are symbols of interdependence and unity – the four human races, the four seasons, the four directions of the compass. As the Hoops move they speak of renewed creation of all of the universe.


Refugees from violence by Boko Haram

The World that Created Boko Haram: Gender and the Islamic Revolution in Northern Nigeria

Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 4:30 PM — Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall

The World that Created Boko Haram: Gender and the Islamic Revolution in Northern Nigeria

Starting in 1999, twelve northern Nigerian states began the process of reimplementing full shari’ia penal codes in response to massive grassroots demand. A few years later, the process was widely considered a failure and attention was turned to battling the ascendancy of Boko Haram. In 2002, a peasant woman named Amina Lawal was sentenced to death by stoning for committing the crime of zinā, or illegal sexual activity. A year later she was acquitted before attentive eyes worldwide. This lecture examines the historical and cultural factors at work in the call to reimplement sharia penal codes in Northern Nigeria, examines the stoning punishment in the Islamic tradition, and analyzes the questions of gender and the western reaction to Amina Lawal’s case.

Eltantawi Event Poster

Dr. Sarah Eltantawi is a scholar of Islam. She is Member of the Faculty in Comparative Religion and Islamic Studies at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA (Associate Professor), and a Research Scholar at the Middle East Center of the University of Washington . She earned her PhD in the Study of Religion in 2012 from Harvard University, where she was the Jennifer W. Oppenheimer Fellow and Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has academic fellowships at Brandeis University, UC Berkeley, and at the Forum Transregionalle at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin as well as the Freie Universität in Berlin. She obtained an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University and a BA in Rhetoric and English literature from UC Berkeley.

Her recently released book Sharia on Trial: Northern Nigeria’s Islamic Revolution (University of California, 2017), examines why Northern Nigerians took to the streets starting in 1999 to demand the reimplimentation sharia law. She uses the stoning punishment and the trial of Amina Lawal for committing adultery as her primary lens of inquiry.

Dr. Eltantawi is currently at work on a new book that takes up the rise of the of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1928 – the present, focusing on the question of the group’s “political theology” and its place in traditions of political theory. Dr. Eltantawi has also published on issues ranging from early Shi’ite jurisprudence to perceptions of “post-modernity” in Nigeria to the revolution in Egypt.

She is also a political analyst, writer, and radio show host. Before taking up scholarship she had a career as policy and communications director of two American Muslim civil rights organizations in Los Angeles, Washington DC and New York City. She has been published in the New York Times, Reuters, Newsweek and more, and has appeared on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and is a regular news commentator for Al Jazeera English. From 2011-2015 she published a regular column in Die Tageszeitung, Germany’s fourth largest newspaper, and she hosts the radio show Contemporary Islam Considered for Marginalia Review of Books, a channel of the Los Angeles Times Review of Books. She has also been selected for the 2016-2018 speaker’s bureau of Humanities Washington, a National Endowment of the Humanities sponsored public program dedicated to sparking conversation and critical thinking in the state of Washington.

This event is open to the public.

Sponsored by Peace & Conflict Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Islamic Studies, the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, and the Department of Sociology & Anthropology.

tommy neale

Representing Radiohead at Ethnomusicology Conference

On Saturday, March 24, Swarthmore Professor of Music Lei Ouyang Bryant and recent alumnus Tommy Neale ’17 presented selections of their respective scholarship at the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s annual conference in College Park, Maryland. Neale’s conference presentation consisted of a condensed version of the senior comprehensive paper that he presented to the music faculty for evaluation last semester. The topic of his paper is a music theoretical, historical, and cultural analysis of “Paranoid Android,” the lead single from Radiohead’s third studio album, OK Computer.

After reading his paper and listening to his presentation, Professor Bryant realized that Tommy’s research would be a good candidate for a conference presentation. She said, “I was really impressed with his multi-faceted examination of Radiohead. In his paper, he rigorously investigates the band, their music, and the particular historical and cultural moment of the album. Tommy has a wonderfully analytical mind and is really engaging in both writing and public speaking.” But the process of preparing his comprehensive for a conference presentation has not been without its challenges. Neale was tasked with condensing his 36-page thesis into a 10-page document and 20-minute presentation, that still somehow preserves his original points. Out of necessity, his presentation eschewed some of the finer music theoretical details that were contained in his original thesis, and focused mainly on the relationship between instrumentation, timbre, and ethnomusicology.

Both the process of writing his comprehensive and the subject matter of “Paranoid Android” were extremely important to Neale. He calls the initial process of writing his comprehensive as “tremendously worth doing” but also “very difficult” saying, “doing comps changed me.” “Paranoid Android” was “very formative” for Neale as a young listener, and he acknowledges the tremendous influence Radiohead has had on his own songwriting process. The process of sustained scholarship on a single topic is certainly a Herculean task, especially when the topic of one’s scholarship is a piece of art that holds such personal significance. The subject matter of “Paranoid Android” particularly resonates with Neale, especially given his experiences at Swarthmore. He describes Swarthmore as a “hyper-anxious place,” and says that the only way he has been able to keep his anxiety under control is by “going totally low tech…keep(ing) the stimulation really low.” “Paranoid Android,” written in the early days of the Internet Age, provides for Neale a distillation of this fear of sensory overload. “The main point of Radiohead,” he says, “is sort of turning the soundscape of modernity on itself critically.” In a world that can often be hyper-stimulating, Radiohead has provided for Neale a blueprint for survival.

He cites “the allure of doing something totally sideways…something very, very non-classical” for his senior comprehensive as one of his reasons in selecting “Paranoid Android.” But he is also quick to mention that his primary motivation was his love of Radiohead: “I think the reason that I loved them before is the reason I did comps, is the reason I still love them now.” But when asked how this process of scholarship has informed his conception of the song, Neale wryly chuckles. “In the end,” he says, “the research gets so far away from why you loved the song in the first place.” He says he is taking six months off from even listening to “Paranoid Android” again, perhaps to give his brain time to rest.

Rachel Hottle ’18


Chinese Music Ensemble’s Spring Concert

On Sunday, April 8th at 3:00PM the Swarthmore College Chinese Music Ensemble will be showcasing its talents in Lang Concert Hall for their spring concert in a program shared with Gamelan Semara Santi. The Ensemble is co-directed by Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant and Wang Guowei, a world-renowned performer who comes down from New York to rehearse with the students.

The Chinese Music Ensemble will be playing five pieces, all personally arranged by Wang Guowei to suit each musician’s abilities while still creating a cohesive piece. Many are related to nature, including “Flower Drum Song,” “August Flowers in Bloom,” and “Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon.” Another piece, “The Happy Farmer,” is quick and fast-paced, leading some members of the Ensemble to jokingly call it, “The Stressed Farmer.” To round out the repertoire, the Ensemble is bringing back “Three Folk Songs,” which, as the title indicates, is composed of three separate folk songs.

The Chinese Music Ensemble was established as an official performance ensemble for the first time last semester, drawing both seasoned musicians and beginners looking to learn something new. Students will play traditional Chinese instruments such as the guzheng (zither), erhu (bowed fiddle), hulusi (gourd flute), and yangqin (hammered dulcimer). Though many students used their knowledge of Western instruments – for example, the hulusi is similar to the clarient – they had to adjust to various changes such as the use of cipher notation, which assigns a number to each note rather than a letter.

After a successful fall concert, the Ensemble drew more new members, with only four returners, turning last semester’s beginners into teachers for their peers. Lesia Liao ‘18, who started playing the yangqin just last semester, will now be playing a solo in “The Happy Farmer.”

The performances of Gamelan and the Chinese Music Ensemble will transport audiences across the world to China and Indonesia. As the Chinese Music Ensemble continues introducing students to traditional Chinese music, their spring concert’s ambitious repertoire will enrapture audiences with their energy and rich, melodic sound.

Tiffany Wang ’21

gamelan players

Gamelan Semara Santi Plays Lang Concert Hall and Hawthorne Park

To commemorate Gamelan Semara Santi’s twentieth anniversary season, the ensemble, comprised of Swarthmore students, faculty, staff, and community members, will perform two concerts. One in Lang Concert Hall on Sunday, April 8th, and the other on April 15th in South Philadelphia’s Hawthorne Park, the performances will feature Balinese music and dance performed in a variety of styles.

The second concert joins other activities designed to celebrate Gamelan’s twentieth anniversary through explorations of Balinese and other Asian styles of music. Earlier in the semester, the Department of Music and Dance hosted Indonesian dancer Didik Nini Thowok, who held a guest lecture and demonstration on cross-gender traditions in Balinese and other dance styles. The first performance will be shared with the newer Chinese Music Ensemble.

The decision to hold a second concert in Hawthorne Park is significant. According to co-director and Professor Thomas Whitman, there was “virtually no Indonesian community in Philadelphia” in 1997, when he began teaching gamelan at Swarthmore. He continues, “In the wake of Indonesian political and economic instability in the late 1990’s, however, there was large influx of immigrants from Indonesia, many of whom settled in South Philadelphia.”  Following contacts made with the new community and the support of the College, transporting the group to the city became more of a possibility. “Swarthmore’s full ensemble has never performed for an audience of Indonesian-Americans…so we thought this would be an appropriate capstone for our 20th anniversary season.”

Hawthorne Park joins previous off-campus venues that the ensemble has performed at such as the Kimmel Center and Longwood Gardens. The instruments, created by I Wayan Beratha, arrived on campus in the fall of 1997 and have since been featured in biannual concerts at Swarthmore College. Gamelan Semara Santi’s name was derived as a tribute to Swarthmore College’s Quaker roots, merging the name of the Balinese god of love (Semar), and “santi,” the Sanskrit word for “peace.”

The collection of instruments is tuned in the pelog system, which is realized as a repeating sequence of five notes named for the Balinese vowel sounds. Among the instruments, the largest is the gong; in gamelan music, the gong occupies a central role and, with the kempur and kemong, defines the cyclical pattern through which the nuclear melody takes shape. This melody, contrary to much of traditional West European musical practice, is voiced through the lower-toned instruments jegogan and calung and enhanced by a number of gangsas. Accompanying this basic distribution of instruments are, depending on the style, the kajar, reyong, suling, kendang, ceng-ceng, and gentorag.

During its upcoming concerts, Gamelan Semara Santi will perform one piece from the Gamelan Semar Pegulingan repertoire, which rose in prominence during the nineteenth century and is characterized by a slower and more regular gong cycle. We will also perform two pieces of the rapid and dynamic Gong Kebyar style, which evolved in tangent with Bali’s rapid sociocultural and political changes around the turn of the twentieth century.

I am incredibly grateful to the directors and group for making Gamelan a central part of my Swarthmore education since freshman year and am honored to be able to participate in our twentieth anniversary concerts. I am excited to share what we have learned in both the Lang Concert Hall and Hawthorne Park!


Jacob Demree ‘19


Janis Siegel Performs with Swarthmore Jazz Ensemble

Janis Siegel, a Featured Guest Artist at Swarthmore College this year, has performed and hosted multiple workshops with voice students on campus throughout the academic year. Known for her Grammy award-winning work with the vocal group The Manhattan Transfer, Siegel is a big name in the music world, and music students at Swarthmore have been eager for opportunities to work with her. She has collaborated with solo performers and ensembles alike on campus, including a workshop held with Swarthmore’s Garnet Singers.

Shelby Billups ‘20, voice student and member of the Swarthmore Garnet Singers, has worked with Siegel as both a soloist and ensemble member. On the experiences, she says, “With Ms. Siegel, you never know what to expect and I think that’s what added to the excitement of being in a class with her. You have a chance to spontaneously explore different styles of your voice.” Josie Ross ‘21, another Garnet Singers member and solo workshop participant, speaks of the ease of working with Siegel. “Siegel has a warm, welcoming presence that makes you comfortable to step outside of your comfort zone. When I was invited to the workshop, I was nervous to sing to such a experienced performer. However, her collaborative style gave me the courage to try singing techniques in front of a group of strangers.”

Not only voice students will benefit from Siegel’s presence and mentorship on campus. This semester, the Swarthmore College Jazz Ensemble will perform its first ever concert with a guest artist or vocalist, and aiding the ensemble in this debut is none other than Janis Siegel. Members of the ensemble are honored to take part in this Jazz Ensemble first, and trombonist Sam Gardner ‘19 voices their excitement. “Janis Siegel is a total professional,” he says. “It should be a fun and different show.” Siegel will perform with the Jazz Ensemble in seven out of eleven concert pieces. The repertoire includes several Duke Ellington works and a brand new version of “Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera, arranged by Janis Siegel and ensemble conductor Andrew Neu.

Swarthmore Jazz Ensemble is a standard jazz big band comprised of five saxes, four trombones, four trumpets, piano, bass, and drums. The group has rehearsed three hours per week throughout the semester in preparation for this performance. Says Andrew Neu, “Not only do we have such a superstar guest artist with us, but the Swarthmore Jazz Ensemble is a talented group of musicians in their own right. Every one of their past performances has been an exciting night of dynamic jazz, and the word is spreading about how great they are. If you haven’t seen the band, then you need to find out what everyone has been talking about!”

The Swarthmore Jazz Ensemble Concert with Janis Siegel will be held Saturday, April 7th at 8PM in Lang Concert Hall. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit https://www.swarthmore.edu/music/concerts-events.

Maya Kikuchi ’20

THE END, A Queer Reckoning (Acting Capstone 4/27 + 4/28)

the end poster

And by “the apocalypse,” we’re actually referring to the metaphorical end of the world as we know it: graduation.  Join the complex and multi-dmensional non-binary Korean-American with remarkable charm and theatrical ability, Wesley Han, (and a straight white guy) on a queer cabaret extravaganza as they wallow in their existential dread and ponder what it means to be spat out by a cheerfully hypocritical institution – like Swat – into a world that is cold, brutal, harsh, unforgiving, merciless, hostile, uncaring, volatile, inhospitable, untamable, and wow – really just couldn’t give less of a sh*t about you.  Expect food and drink, fabulous outfits, and the most f*cking eclectic mixtape of songs you’ve ever heard.

Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at 8PM and 10:30PM
PACES Cafe in Tarble in Clothier

The End: A Queer Reckoning

a cabaret by Wesley Han and Oliver Lipton
Directed by John Jarboe
Music directed by Pax Ressler

​Lights by Yoshi Nomifura ’18
Costumes by Max Brown
Set by Michael Lambui
presented by the Department of Theater

Seating is limited. First come, first served. More info: lpacevents@swarthmore.edu or 610-328 8260


Deborah Wong: “Women of Color Creating Change: Taiko, FandangObon, and Asian American Arts Activism”

Fitting with this month’s celebration of Women’s History, Professor Deborah Wong from the University of California, Riverside will deliver the 2018 Genevieve Lee ’96 Memorial Lecture with a presentation on the way Asian American women use the arts to promote social change. The Lee Lecture is an annual endowed lecture that supports the development of multi-disciplinary Asian American studies. This year’s lecture is sponsored through the Asian Studies Program and Department of Music and Dance at Swarthmore College. Titled “Women of Color Creating Change: Taiko, FandangObon, and Asian American Arts Activism,” Professor Wong’s lecture will explore two case studies of the arts as a form of social change. The first case study looks at taiko and the role of gender within the taiko community among a diverse group of women. The second examines FandangObon, a festival based in L.A. that brings together Japanese, Mexican, and African American communities for a celebration of dance, music and environmental consciousness.

As a Professor of Music and an ethnomusicologist who specializes in Asian American and Thai music, Professor Deborah Wong has defined her academic career by working with diverse groups of people in order to seek out and promote interethnic collaborations. ‘Inter’ and ‘diversity’ are key words to Professor Wong’s research and are reflected in the works she has published. Speak it Louder: Asian Americans Making Music for example, a book that Professor Wong published in 2004, tracks the multitude of musical genres Asian Americans have contributed to. From traditional Asian, to jazz, pop, and classical, her work looks at how Asian Americans have created and participated in a diverse array of music traditions.

Lesia Liao ’18 read Speak It Louder to learn more about the field of ethnomusicology for an independent research project with Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant of the Swarthmore Department of Music & Dance. Liao has been working to create an annotated bibliography for Asian Americans involved in music to investigate what Asian American music is and how we might define it. Liao notes that “ethnomusicology…is especially interesting because it takes music as a site of identity formation and one[‘]s grappling with experiences.”

Professor Wong’s lecture will discuss just how to address that relationship between music and identity formation, particularly among Asian American women. Liao voiced her excitement for learning how Professor Wong balances community engagement with ethnographic research, and related the relevance and importance of this lecture, stating that “this talk will be relevant and engaging with people of color, activists who seek different ways to engage in the movement such as through the arts, Asian Americans, and anyone with an interest in the Asian-American experience, anthropology, or music.”

Among her many accomplishments, Professor Wong has also served as the President of the Society for Ethnomusicology, an editor for Wesleyan University Press’s Music/Culture series, a research member for the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, Chair of the Advisory Council for the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and a project manager for the Great Leap Online Archive.

Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant has long been impressed with Professor Wong’s involvement in ethnomusicology and the public sector, and has been the one to suggest bringing Professor Wong to campus as the Genevieve Lee ’96 lecturer:

“I have had the great pleasure of getting to know her through our shared interest in Taiko communities and her leadership for the Society for Ethnomusicology. I believe that Professor Wong’s commitment to Asian American communities and public sector work are both important connections to the interests of students at Swarthmore.”

As an activist, academic, and ethnomusicologist, Professor Wong’s lecture will prove to be an engaging and insightful discussion on Asian American women’s involvement in the arts and social activism.

This event is free and open to the public. The lecture will take place on Monday, April 2 at 4:30 PM in the Scheuer Room in Kohlberg.

Marion Kudla ’19


The Tempest Brews at Swarthmore College

Emily Kennedy, a junior from Portland, Oregon, wasn’t planning on being a stage manager this semester.  She had already stage managed three shows at Swarthmore thus far, and as a Political Science Major with Environmental Studies and Math minors who is also pre-med and going abroad next semester, she had plenty of reason to take a break this spring and focus on academics and other extracurricular pursuits.

But when senior honors Theater major Wesley Han asked her to run their upcoming production of The Tempest, she found herself unable to turn down the “crazy” opportunity.  Kennedy knew Han from previous plays, in which at least one of them was acting, and had also seen their work as the director of last fall’s Senior Company production of HIR.  She describes Han as “such an incredible artist” and the chance to work with them as a stage-manager/director team on a show this ambitious she felt was not one to be missed.

A major part of what sets Han’s Tempest apart from Swarthmore’s usual theater offerings is that dance and music play an integral role throughout.  This makes sense considering their background as a cellist and pianist, whose drama experience during high school consisted almost exclusively of acting, singing, and dancing in musicals.  It’s true that here at Swarthmore, Han “got used to doing straight theater” and even learned to appreciate “how much more room for substance there is when you’re not stopping every five minutes to spontaneously burst into song.”  But after a very substantial and emotionally charged directing capstone last semester in the form of HIR, which involved just four actors and explored family politics with a queer twist, Han is returning to a much more dance- and sound-oriented production this spring with The Tempest.

The whole idea of doing this show originated in large part in the desire to incorporate dance into Han’s theater work, and Shakespeare provided a natural starting point. “So much of [a Shakespeare story] needs to be told nonverbally,” Han says, since “a lot of the language isn’t accessible today.”  And when dance minor Jenny Gao ’18 planted the seed of potentially collaborating, they immediately thought that her background and movement style would make her a good fit for the role of Ariel in The Tempest; in this production, Ariel isn’t just “some dude in a costume covered in feathers who just moves around like a person,” but rather a fully embodied spirit, with a cadre of lesser spirits to do her bidding.

In charge of choreographing most of the movement for that spirit ensemble is Louisa Carman ’21.  Carman, a prospective Political Science major with minors in Spanish and Dance, brings to this project a wealth of dance experience applied in new ways.  In high school, she studied ballet, jazz, tap, and hip-hop, and performed with Chicago’s Evanston Dance Ensemble in several of their large story-based productions, such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Alice in Wonderland.  Through Evanston, she also gained some experience creating her own work, but hadn’t yet combined the two skills—choreographing and storytelling—in a deliberate way until The Tempest.  This combination proved initially difficult, as Carman says “it was a challenge for me to choreograph with the mindset that every element…has a role in advancing the story and adding to the overall atmosphere of the scene.”  She has had throughout the process to balance the worth of her movement for its own sake with how well it contributes to the overall theatrical production.

Sound designer Oliver Lipton ’18 has found himself adjusting to that balance, as well.  Lipton composed most of the show’s soundtrack as an honors thesis for his major in Theater, and while he had previously produced a radioplay called What We Fear as an independent study, this is his first experience creating sound for live theater or dance.  There’s a lot to explore, as not only is he providing the precise cues referred to or suggested by the script, but also the more extensive and rhythmically structured music for dance. Since Ariel in this production doesn’t speak onstage, he’s also responsible for manipulating recordings of Ariel’s voice to stand in for live lines.  All of these have to fit into a coherent soundscape that suggests the particular atmosphere and dynamics of one island, which Lipton decided was a mix of electronic and acoustic sound (dancer Gabriela Brown and Han play flute and cello, respectively, in several of his compositions).  He says that within that general auditory framework, “designing sounds in such a way that they work for the rest of the elements at play has been very interesting.”

Despite the challenges and compromises inherent in crafting all the factors involved in a production of this scope into a harmonious whole, having so many minds in the mix is ultimately quite rewarding.  Carman, for one, says her favorite part of choreographing for the show has been “working with other creative people,” and that she has “learned so much about the decisions that happen behind the scenes for a production like this one.”  Stage manager Kennedy, who gets to follow the whole arc of the project from before auditions to closing night, definitely agrees.  She loves facilitating and watching as “a bunch of people come together to make something cool.” And The Tempest is shaping up to be something cool, indeed.

The Tempest will be showing in the LPAC Frear Ensemble Theater Friday, March 30th at 8pm, Saturday, March 31st at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday, April 1st at 2pm.

Lydia Roe ’20