tsok - a dance thesis devised by Elizabeth Cooper in collaboration with her performers
The Lewis Center for the Arts will present tsok, a senior thesis dance project created by Elizabeth Cooper. Performances will be held on Saturday, May 12 at 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 13 at 8 p.m. in the Chancellor Green Rotunda on the University campus. The event is free and open to the public.
“Tsok” is a Tibetan word meaning a gathering of practitioners, offerings, deities, or wisdom. The performance, which features student musicians and dancers, will use movement, music, and text to explore themes of community, ritual, and practice as inseparable. tsok was inspired by Cooper’s anthropology fieldwork at a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in Northern India and seeks to bring the ritualistic academic reality of student life at Princeton into conversation with the ritualistic spirituality of a Buddhist religious community. Audiences will have the opportunity to contribute to the performance.
“In both the academic and religious settings,” notes Cooper, “we study and practice, whether that be memorizing a sacred text or genetic pathways for a biology exam.”
A sitar, two cellos, a violin, trombone, oboe, harp, percussion, flute, accordion, and Tibetan singing bowls create the soundscape of a world where the lines between prayer and chatter, dance and task become blurred. Adds Cooper, “The fusion of movement, music and text in this piece explore themes of learning, community, ritual and practice, and how perhaps these concepts aren’t so separable.”
In devising the performance Cooper worked in collaboration with her eight performers, playwright Ava Geyer, a fellow student, and Musical Director for the Program in Dance Vince di Mura.
Audiences are invited to gather inside the north entrance to East Pyne Hall off the central courtyard (signs will be posted). Due to the nature of the performance, it is important that guests plan to arrive on time, as they will be ushered together in a procession into the 138-year old Rotunda, which functioned as an early library for the University, furnished with stained glass windows and rich wood paneling. Guests will be invited to move through the space during the performance and become a part of the experience.
“The Chancellor Green Rotunda’s rich sense of history and its architectural beauty lends itself to an aura of spirituality which made it a perfect space for this site-specific piece,” explains Cooper.
Cooper is completing certificates in the Program in Dance and Gender & Sexuality Studies along with her degree in anthropology.
The performance is free; no tickets are required.