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Recap: “Faculty Dance/Collaborations” from UW Dance

Cast members from "The Rite of Spring"

Pamela A. Gregory (front) and Kristin Hapke (back) in “The Rite of Spring” // Photo courtesy Steve Korn

When my coworkers hatched the plan to set me up on six dates and write about them in conjunction with the UWAA’s Arts Dawg program, I became anxious.

I wasn’t stressed about finding dates or subjecting myself to the public scrutiny; rather, I realized that I didn’t know much about the performing arts. I’ve only attended a handful of plays and couldn’t tell you how the Renaissance era set the stage for the Baroque period of classical music. (In fact, I had to look those eras up on Wikipedia.) I respect the arts and admire artists, but rarely enough to make them part of my Friday night.

Naturally, I came into the first of six Arts Dawg performances – the dance production Faculty Dance/Collaborations – knowing next to nothing about dance. In a way, I was the ideal customer. When the UWAA and ArtsUW partnered to create the Arts Dawg program, the goal involved introducing patrons to the wide variety – and high quality – of fine and performing arts offered by the University of Washington.

My date for the evening expressed similar sentiments at the Arts Dawg-only pre-show reception in the Meany Theater lobby. She admitted that she wouldn’t think to attend a dance performance while planning a night out, so she was intrigued by the new experience.

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Preview: “Faculty Dance/Collaborations” from UW Dance

The cast from "The Rite of Spring"

The cast from “The Rite of Spring”

Collaboration in the UW Dance Program is nothing new. Most UW Dance productions feature partnership with one or two departments, said Betsy Cooper, M.F.A. ’97, director of UW Dance. But no program in recent memory has featured as much teamwork as the next UW Dance production, Faculty Dance/Collaborations. “Dance is a particularly collaborative art form,” she said. “To see the majority of us in the performing arts coming together and working on this level, I’m excited by that.”

Faculty Dance/Collaborations, the second UW Dance Program production this season, spotlights contributions from community performers, the School of Drama, the School of Music, and the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media. “I think the level of collaboration is unique,” Cooper said. “Everybody has come together.”

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Q&A: Patrick Lennon, ’09, local star of “Santaland Diaries”

Patrick Lennon

UW alum Patrick Lennon, ’09 (Photo courtesy Susan Doupe)

For many, David Sedaris’ madcap “Santaland Diaries” is a holiday tradition for the new millennium. The essay-turned-stage production follows Sedaris’ season as an elf in Santaland at Macy’s department store. Seattle Public Theater, on the banks of Green Lake, has offered the hour-long, one-man monologue six times in the past eight years.

UW alum Patrick Lennon, ’09, donned the elf hat this year and is currently starring in the production, slated to wrap up on Dec. 24. The Seattle native has acted since middle school but didn’t major in theater, pursuing instead a B.A. from the Jackson School of International Studies. Offstage, Lennon serves as a program assistant for Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the UW. Lennon recently talked to the UWAA about his time on campus and “Santaland Diaries.”

Note: This Q&A has been edited for content and clarity.

Why did you pursue a degree in International Studies?

I think it was winter quarter of my freshman year when I took SIS 201 (“The Making of the 21st Century”) with Mary Callahan, and I was completely hooked. As soon as I took it, I was like, ‘I’m done! I have found my major! We are set here.’

I was really happy with that decision. Dr. Callahan was so obviously passionate about the subject, so knowledgeable and engaging. It was like, ‘This is the subject I want to pursue and spend a lot of time digging deeper into.’

Why not theater?

I was very practical and wanted to have a degree that was in something different, not in case acting failed, but more so to be well-rounded. I wanted to have more of a balance in my life.

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Going backstage with Arts Dawg

I never imagined that my coworkers would try to set me up on a date, let alone six dates. Not just that, but that I would be tasked with blogging about each date. But, over the next six months, that’s exactly what will happen.

The idea started when a few of us in the Alumni Association talked about the Arts Dawg ticket package as a great date night. With six great campus arts events, pre-show receptions, and backstage talks with the brains behind the productions, the package would be a treat for any arts-loving couple.

That’s when my coworkers suggested that I take a date to each performance and write about the experience afterward. After a bit of cajoling, I went with along with the idea.

You’re probably wondering who I am by now. My name is Matt, and I recently moved to Seattle from the Portland area, where I spent the previous seven years with my local newspaper. I enjoy hiking, watching the TV series “Community,” and going to Paseo Caribbean Restaurant in Ballard.

Along the way, I will write about the dates, sure. But more importantly, I will write about the Arts Dawg experience, which includes six great performances.

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There and Back Again: The Story of The Hobbit

Hobbit image

“The Hobbit” opened this weekend to strong ticket sales, but did it live up to the hype? Let us know in the comments!

We like to add a little UW twist to our Member Movie Nights. For our UWAA member night at The Hobbit last Friday and Saturday, UW History Professor Robin Chapman Stacey graciously agreed to share some thoughts on Tolkein and the book that gave rise to the film. Have you seen The Hobbit? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments!

Unlike its considerably darker successor The Lord of the Rings (LOTR), The Hobbit was a work intended originally for children, having begun as bed-time stories told by Tolkien to his sons. Tolkien had not envisaged publishing the story until an early version of the manuscript fell into the hands of an employee of the Allen and Unwin publishing firm. Unwin’s ten-year old son gave the resulting typescript an enthusiastic thumbs-up, and The Hobbit became an enormous popular success practically overnight. Published in September of 1937, it was sold out by Christmas; by the time its “sequel” LOTR was published nearly twenty years later, it was in its seventh edition.

Even in its origins, however, The Hobbit was deeper than it looked. Tolkien was a professor at Oxford, a philologist, and a specialist in the heroic languages and literatures of the medieval North. Many of his characters and plot elements came directly from the ancient works he knew so well: the dwarf names from the Old Norse Völuspá; the theft of the cup from the Old English poem Beowulf; the dragon’s soft underbelly and salvific bird speech from the Norse tale of Sigurd and the dragon Fáfnir; the riddle game from yet another old Norse story. Even the riddles exchanged by Bilbo and Gollum have ancient antecedents.

And yet Tolkien’s story is anything but a standard heroic tale. As critic Tom Shippey has observed, a large part of the genius of The Hobbit—and certainly much of its comedy—comes from the juxtaposition of this ancient world of dragons and heroes with the endearing fussiness of Bilbo, the unlikely burglar recruited by Gandalf to join the dwarves on their grand adventure. Bilbo is the epitome of Edwardian middle-class English life: comfortable in his home and habits, fond of tea, ornamental waistcoats, and generous meals taken throughout the day. He is absolutely the last creature in the world one would expect to find bedding down next to dwarves and wielding an ancient sword, and yet it is his good sense and bourgeois belief in fairness that ultimately saves the dwarves from disaster. One has only to compare the dwarf Balin’s last words to Bilbo with Bilbo’s to him to see the comic clash between styles and lifestyles: “‘If ever you visit us again, when our halls are made fair once more, then the feast shall indeed be splendid!’ ‘If ever you are passing my way,’ said Bilbo, ‘don’t wait to knock! Tea is at four, but any of you are welcome at any time!’”

Indeed, Tolkien (who once termed himself “a hobbit in all but size”) is having fun with language throughout the tale. “Bag End” (the plain English version of the snobbishly Frenchified term “cul-de-sac,” which Tolkien immortalized in the name of Bilbo’s objectionable relatives, the Sackville- Bagginses) was the name of Tolkien’s aunt Jane’s farm. “Baggins” is northern English slang for a laborer’s tea or snack eaten between meals; and “auction” a play on a dialect word for “mess.” “Burglar” itself is related to the word “bourgeois,” and while the origins of the word “hobbit” are murky, Tolkien later invented for it a fictitious, but linguistically plausible etymology meaning “hole-dweller.” This is in large part what separates Tolkien from many contemporary authors working in the fantasy genre. Rather than inventing worlds and creatures first and only then imagining the languages they might speak, Tolkien began with language and worked from there to discover the nature of the world in which such a language would make sense. As he later described how he came to begin The Hobbit, he was marking exams when he came on a page the candidate had left blank. “I wrote on it: ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’ Names always generate a story in my mind. Eventually I thought I’d better find out what hobbits were like.”

The Hobbit may have begun as a children’s story, but as Tolkien began writing what would ultimately become LOTR, he went back and revised Bilbo’s adventures so as to integrate them into the much more adult world of Middle-earth. He removed several of the authorial asides (which he had come to regard as patronizing and unserious) and, more importantly, changed the nature of the Ring itself. In the first edition merely a magical device that Gollum was willing to bet as his stake in the riddle game, the Ring became in subsequent editions something altogether more sinister—the One Ring of Sauron, an item Gollum would never have risked, and one so corrupting as to cause even the naturally honest Bilbo to lie. Indeed, it was to this process of bringing Bilbo’s tale further into Middle-earth that Peter Jackson made appeal on Facebook this past July in announcing his decision to incorporate into his film material from the LOTR appendices and present his film version of the book in three parts rather than two: “in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, [it was] ‘a tale that grew in the telling.’”

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A Day in the Life of an Undergraduate

UW Senior Alisa Song has generously offered to take us along as she goes through her day at the University of Washington. Alisa is majoring in mathematics and economics, with a minor in international studies, and plans to graduate in June 2013. -Ed.

5:30 a.m.  Alarm goes off. I fall back asleep.

5:33 a.m.  I wake up and go through the morning routine of contemplating the pros and cons of going to my Beginners’ Yoga class at the IMA. I sleepily visualize my morning yoga class. My bed is definitely more comfortable than trying to make my heels touch the ground while attempting a downward dog. On the other hand, skipping class this morning will only make it harder to attend the next class. Plus, I’ve grown particularly fond of my quiet classmates who have struggled with me, class after class.

5:40 a.m.  As usual, I decide to go for it and get out of bed.

6:39 a.m. I am half-awake on the bus ride to campus. There was more traffic than usual today. I get off the bus and realize that I have to sprint toward the IMA if I want to be on time.

6:45 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. After a four-minute sprint through the Burke-Gilman Trail and up a flight of stairs, I arrive at Studio 316 in the IMA. With 30 seconds to spare I am wide-awake, sitting on my squishy yoga mat and ready for class to begin.

Yoga in Studio 316

Bright sunlight fills Studio 316 in the early morning.

9:00 a.m. – 9:20 a.m. I get back to main campus and, with  a couple minutes before my next class, decide to study on the ground floor of Suzzallo Library for a quiz that I will be taking in my first class today.

9:30 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. My Public Relations and Society class is in the Communications building— about a 20-second walk from Suzzallo. This is a morning class, but nearly everyone comes to every session. Today we learn the basics of consumer relations and review case studies from our textbook.

11:30 a.m. Lunchtime! The weather is chilly, so there are only a dozen students hanging out in Red Square. Most students probably chose to eat inside Suzzallo Café or at By George Café. I decide to get food from one of the food trucks on Red Square. I order a BBQ Slider smothered in Carolina Mustard Sauce with a side of Macaroni and Cheese. Since there is no line, my hot food is ready in two minutes.

Food Trucks on Red Square

Food trucks became a popular place for students to get food while the Husky Union Building was being renovated these past two years.

1:30 p.m. – 3:20 p.m. Next, it is time for my International Trade class in Savery Hall, which is located at the bottom of the Quad. This building is the home of the Economics, Sociology and Philosophy Departments and was renovated in 2009. Savery is easily one of my favorite buildings on campus; the building’s exterior retained its original, breathtakingly beautiful look while its indoors were given a modern update with fast elevators, large classrooms and spacious hallways.

4:00 p.m.  By the time my economics class is over, I am in the mood for a hot cup of coffee. I have plans to catch up with a friend I met in a previous economics course. We decide to meet in the basement of the Art building, which hosts Parnassus Café. This café is student-run and serves arguably the best coffee on campus.

6:00 p.m. After coffee, I head to Room 202 in Thomson Hall, where the Jackson School Student Association Club is holding its weekly meeting. Our meeting focuses on an upcoming lecture panel about the crisis in Mali. We put together a list of professors that we will ask to speak during this panel.

6:30 p.m. After nearly 12 hours on campus, it is time for me to take a bus home.

7:30 p.m. It takes me an hour to get home with the evening traffic. At home, I eat spaghetti for dinner with my family.

8:00 p.m. My brother and I both love the television show “Friends.” I have all 10 seasons downloaded on my iTunes, so we spend the next 45 minutes watching a couple episodes together.

9:00 p.m. I don’t have any homework due until the middle of next week. I decide to spend some time on Tumblr, my favorite social media platform. Tumblr is a microblogging website that is mainly photo-based. I devote the next hour to reblogging photos of tantalizing plates of food, beautiful clothes I want to own and impossibly fat puppies.

10:45 p.m. After a long and eventful day, I am ready for sleep. I set my alarm on my phone and fall asleep well before midnight.

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In the Spotlight: Ia Dübois

It was deep budget cuts during a recession that led to one of Ia Dübois’ most enduring classes at the University of Washington.

Not long after starting with the UW in 1992, Dübois brainstormed with a colleague about how to bring more students into classes in the Department of Scandinavian Studies, a part of the College of Arts & Sciences. “What is selling?” Dübois remembers her colleague asking. “Well, sex,” she replied, half-jokingly. That planted the seed for “Sexuality in Scandinavia: Myth and Reality,” which has since become Dübois’ most popular class.

It started with about 45 students that first term in the mid-90s, but “Sexuality in Scandinavia” has grown over the years, reaching 235 students for fall quarter. Throughout the term, Dübois compares and contrasts laws and legislation regarding sexuality in a handful of Scandinavian countries. “It’s a wonderful thing, to teach the differences between the Scandinavian countries, because each country has a different value system,” Dübois said.

She tries to bridge the cultural divide by screening documentaries on subjects with which students might have only a passing familiarity or faint understanding. Those films touch on subjects such as homosexuality, prostitution and trafficking — and how they impact life in Scandinavia. She hopes that students connect those issues to what happens in their own communities. “I really see our teaching as not only the facts, but also to teach the students to become good citizens,” Dübois said.

Dübois, who is a senior lecturer and undergraduate adviser today, also tries to educate students about legal developments and media portrayals that may have informed their own thoughts on sexuality. “I don’t want you to change your mind,” Dübois tells students each quarter. “But, be aware of what is forming your opinion.”

Dübois remains busy outside of the classroom, as well. In October she attended a conference put on by the Association of Swedish Teachers and Researchers in America. It was the kind of eye-opening experience that keeps Dübois motivated after 20 years at the UW. “To be in an environment where you are exposed to really new research, new thinkers, and new interpretations of literature and of culture, I still have to pinch myself at times,” Dübois said.

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Dawg Dash 2012!

A new course and uncertain fall weather didn’t stop nearly 4,000 runners from lining up for the annual Dawg Dash on Sunday, Oct 21. We lucked out with amazing weather—sunshine mixed with crisp fall air—and tremendous enthusiasm for this year’s course. A great group of spirited runners, walkers, dogs and supporters shared the beautiful day on our gorgeous campus. Here are some fun facts/figures from the 27th annual Dawg Dash:

  • 3,762: runners
  • 43: degrees at the start of the 10K
  • 118: kids participated in the Kids Dash
  • 354: photos in our Dawg Dash album
  • 1: years the Dawg Dash finish was in the UW Quad and the Post Dash Bash was held on Red Square

UW President Michael K. Young got the race off on the right foot.

 

Kids had a blast running alongside Harry!

 

We look forward to seeing you next year! For all of the latest updates *like* the Dawg Dash page on Facebook!

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