Monthly Archives: September 2018

Christopher K. Morgan Residency

The Dance Program of Swarthmore College enthusiastically welcomed Tiffanie Carson, Assistant Director of Christopher K. Morgan & Artists (CKM/A), onto campus over a three-day period. CKM/A is one of the Department of Music and Dance’s Featured Guest Artists for the 2018-2019 season.

CKM/A is a professional contemporary dance company founded by Christopher K. Morgan and located in Washington D.C. The company is unique in its mission to explore social and cultural issues through dance as well as its intention to demystify contemporary dance. They do so by holding community dialogues and uploading online video content.

During her stay on campus, Carson taught the choreography of In the Cold Room in three classes that were attended by student, faculty, and community members. In the Cold Room premiered at American Dance Institute in 2014. The piece features a trio of women who explore reactions to light, dark, and temperature to create an abstract examination of isolations and connections. The fast-paced energy of the performance coupled with the large-scale movements of the original dancers of the piece was said to leave the audience breathless, because the expressions of the piece are at once primal and poetic.

Students auditioned for this piece and were selected by CKM/A during the weekend. Emma Dulski, Lia D’Alessandro, and Katie Knox will perform In the Cold Room as part of the Swarthmore Fall Dance Concert.

“In the Cold Room is both really beautiful and really difficult to dance, and I was excited to see the student dancers tackle the tough choreography, which they spent over 20 hours learning during the intensive weekend of rehearsals” Prof. Olivia Sabee said.

In the spring, CKM/A will return to campus to present Pōhaku as part of the Unexpected Homeland programming, co-sponsored by the President’s Office Mellon Grant and the Department of Music & Dance.

“Alba Newmann Holmes came to me with the idea of writing a grant last spring based on the idea of Unexpected Homeland” Prof. Sabee said. “I had been interested in bringing CKM/A to campus for a number of years and when I realized that his new work Pōhaku fit Alba’s theme, it seemed like a perfect match.”

Pōhaku pairs hula kahiko (traditional hula) and modern dance styles together to express the conflict that Christopher K. Morgan feels as a mixed-race person who grew up in California.

David Chan ’19

Renee Elise Goldsberry at Swarthmore College

In Professor Lei Bryant’s opening class of “Music & Dance Cultures of the World” this semester, she played students a clip of Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”  When it became apparent that most people in the room almost immediately recognized the piece and its cultural significance, she asked the class to brainstorm musical works or performances from our own generation that would similarly remain so potent.

Hamilton, the smash-hit 2015 Broadway show about the life of its titular founding father, was one of the first to be mentioned.  Conceived of and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the hip-hop musical that cast people of color in the roles of famous white historical figures was a huge commercial and critical success, breaking box office records and receiving 11 Tony Awards.  Few cultural phenomena have registered with quite as much magnitude in the past couple of decades, with NYTimes reviewer Ben Brantley calling it “proof that the American musical is not only surviving” but also evolving and thriving.

One of the people responsible for no less than the invigorated future of an art form is Renee Elise Goldsberry, the actress who originated the role of Angelica Schuyler and who will this week visit Swarthmore College as part of the 2018-2019 Cooper Series, giving two performances on Friday, September 21st at 6:00 and 8:30 p.m. in Lang Concert Hall.  As Angelica— the sister-in-law and close friend of Alexander Hamilton—Goldsberry sang one of the most memorable numbers in a show full of musical highpoints. In “Satisfied,” she wistfully explores her unresolved romantic feelings for Alexander, which she chooses to ignore for the benefit of her sister, who has just married him. It’s a decision, she sings, that she “just might regret… for the rest of [her] days.”

While Goldsberry has said in interviews that she draws extensively upon personal experience in playing any character, these days regrets are one aspect of life that it appears she and Angelica can’t really share.  While accepting a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 2016, she ends by pointing out how important both her work and her family is to her, and how lucky she’s been to find such fulfillment in both areas.  Goldsberry later wrote of winning the Tony that “the celebration for me was that I chased both family and career very hard, and the fact that I could celebrate having my children and that Tony award was a miracle.”

And although she was quite a successful actress before Hamilton, both on Broadway and on television, the popularity of the show has given Goldsberry a level of freedom in artistic projects she didn’t have before.  Since the end of her run two years ago, she has played the titular character in a movie adaptation of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and appeared in Netflix’s sci-fi series Altered Carbon.  She has also taken on the challenge of figuring out how to adapt the whole shebang of Hamilton into pieces that make musical and narrative sense for independent performances, such as at Swarthmore.  In an interview before her debut at the Boston Pops this summer, Goldsberry speaks to how difficult it is to perform individually songs that were meant to be interwoven into the fabric of a whole story, without real beginnings or ends, and in conversation with other actors.

But, she ultimately feels that “to reconceive them, so that they can live as solo pieces, is really redeeming and hugely important because the message in these songs is too important, too necessary, too universal, to only be able to experience it in the entire production.”  And it seems that, based on their response to her upcoming solo appearance, Swarthmore students quite agree; it sold out just a few hours after advance reservations became available. Fortunately, the college was able to accommodate a second show.

Between the afternoon discussion with Goldsberry on Thursday, and the two evening performances on Friday, hopefully all Hamilton fans will head into their weekend on a suitably “satisfied” note.

Lydia Roe ’20

Feeling in the dark about your choreography ? Take Lighting Design!

If you look around, lighting adds impact to our visual world in movies, television architecture, interior design, special events, and so much more! This class is intended to demystify light as a powerful medium in design and familiarize students with design fundamentals. The course objective introduces lighting concepts with a focus on lighting for theater and dance, but the skills are applicable to many areas and other majors. This hands-on class guides you artistically through the design process from start to finish. The course is designed to serve all students regardless of prior experience in theater or dance production.
Fulfills a general requirement for all theater majors and minors.
Humanities. Register for THEA 004B.

Class meets Mondays 1PM – 3:45PM LPAC 310 Discussion followed by hands-on lab from 4:15PM -6:15PM with James Murphy, Managing Director of the LPAC.
1 credit.
Catalog chapter: Theater
Department website:

Contact Jean Tierno ( or Jim Murphy ( for more info!