UCSB dance faculty members Christopher Pilafian, Nina Bennahum and Valerie Huston initiated a series of performances and programs to study and celebrate the work of choreographer Jennifer Muller. With funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (a grant from the American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius program), the Department of Theater and Dance invited Ms. Muller to UC Santa Barbara for three intensive residencies to teach her landmark work Speeds to senior dance majors.
Building on this initiative, the dance faculty hosted a day-long conference, Transformation & Continuance: Jennifer Muller and the Reshaping of American Modern Dance; curated a week long multi-media exhibit dedicated to Ms. Muller’s work; and published an in-depth exhibit catalog, including fifty photographic images. The conference was extremely well attended, with keynote speakers drawn from national figures in the field of dance scholarship. The exhibit was mounted with collaborative assistance from the University Art Museum, E. Bruce Robertson, Director. The catalogue is nearly sold out, including a run of sales in New York City. Plans are in the works for a second printing.
The nearly year-long project culminated when the UCSB Dance Company, directed by Delila Moseley, performed Speeds to critical acclaim on the Department of Theater and Dance’s spring concert in the Hatlen Theater, and toured the work regionally and internationally across southern California, to four cities in Italy and at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York City. Project supervisor for Speeds was Christopher Pilafian. Lead Curator for the conference and exhibit and lead editor for the catalogue was Ninotchka Bennahum. Development efforts for the entire project were spearheaded and coordinated by Valerie Huston.