Music, dance, theater performances and more throughout new season starting tonight

by Keith Loria

The Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University will welcome former U.S. Ambassador Susan E. Rice to kick off its fall Open Visions Forum on Sept. 28, with an evening entitled, “Envisioning Our Global Future: The Limits of Diplomacy.”

In 2008, Rice was nominated by then-President-elect Obama to be America’s United Nations Ambassador, becoming the second youngest person and first African American woman to represent the U.S. in that capacity.

As part of her position, Dr. Rice oversaw the National Security Council Staff, chaired the cabinet level National Security Principals Committee, provided the president’s daily national security briefing, and was responsible for the coordination and integration of all aspects of the administration’s foreign and national security policy, intelligence, and military efforts.

“We invite prominent speakers in the world to come and present their view on what is happening in the world today,” said Peter Van Heerden, director for the Quick Center for the Arts. “We asked Susan Rice to speak not to just her past experiences, but to the future and current state of affairs.”

Tickets range from $27 to $35, and are $5 for Fairfield University students.  

This forum is just one of the myriad of events scheduled to take place at the Quick Center in the months ahead.

“When planning a season, we think territorially about what we want to say and how we want to create an intellectual property that challenges our community, integrates into the higher education curriculum and present amazing artists,” Van Heerden said. “We want to engage in a dialogue or conversation with the community about performance, art and what it means to program what we do.”

That can be a challenge considering that the season is meant to appeal to students, retired seniors in the community, and everyone in between.

“We make sure to structure a season to do a little bit of everything, but to curate a package that compliments both those two people to be in the audience together and share an experience,” Van Heerden said. “There’s really an offering for high-quality art across the spectrum for dance, performance and music.”

Others appearing as part of the Open Visions forum include three-time Academy Award winner Richard Hyman, who will share his experiences with Jacques Cousteau (Oct. 4); Father Patrick Desbois, a Catholic priest and professor at Georgetown University, who has devoted his life to awakening the world’s attention to mass genocide (Nov. 15); Dr. Angela Davis, distinguished professor emerita at the University of California and one of the most iconic faces of black politics and social activism (Feb. 1); and the BBC’s Katty Kay, offering a fresh perspective on global affairs (Feb. 22).

On Oct. 13 and 14, the Quick Center is hosting an “Upside Down, Inside Out” party, beginning with All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey with Frédérick Gravel and his rock and roll infused dance work, followed by an immersive journey with treats and libations and dancing on stage to the raw and gritty magnetism of Betty Bonifassi. 

“We’ve invited two incredible artists from Quebec,” Van Heerden said. “Frédérick does this incredible rock, pop, dance piece and Betty is like Janis Joplin. It’s something never done by us before and we think it’s going to be a very exciting event.”

Dance lovers will be pleased by some of the incredible upcoming shows, as well.

On Oct. 19, French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi brings his jaw-dropping performance of “What the Day Owes to the Night” to the center, complete with backflips, head spins, and a transcending emotional intensity. 

“There are a number of street performers from Algeria and West Africa, all male, and it’s just incredible performance work,” Van Heerden said. “He’s weaved together this piece about his father’s passing from contemporary dance, and it’s really amazing.”

Paul Taylor, considered by many to be America’s greatest living choreographer, takes to the stage on Jan. 26 with his dance company presenting a new modern work.

Ten-time Grammy winner Eddie Palmieri will celebrate his 80th birthday at the Quick Center on Nov. 5, joined by his world famous Latin jazz band for an afternoon that highlights his most influential and popular works from throughout his storied career.

Broadway’s John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, who happen to be married, will sing original interpretations of songs from the Great American Songbook mixed with Christmas classics on Dec. 3.

“John’s show sold out last year and we asked him to come back, so he’s bringing his wife with him this time,” Van Heerden said. “It’s getting everyone in the holiday mood.”

An event Van Heeden is really looking forward to comes March 2 and 3, when Wim Vandekeybus’ “In Spite of Wishing and Wanting,” with a score by David Byrne, presents an unusual dance and performance art piece.

“It’s this incredible piece of dance and theater performance, with an all-male cast, looking at issues of masculinity and identity and dreaming, and it’s just a beautiful piece of work,” he said.

There’s also a double-header of Giselle in April, with the Moscow Festival Ballet performing the classic story on April 6, and a feminist retelling of the tale performed by Dada Masilo on April 18.

“We also have a lot of family fun and children’s work coming, plus the Met Live events and HD Opera,” Van Heerden said. “There’s a lot going on and I think it’s going to be another great season.”

For more information on the schedule, visit