On May 5 the U.S. Department of Education released the names of the Presidential Scholars, two students from each state plus winners from the arts and career/technology. This year’s Presidential Scholar List include a student from Princeton High School, Winona Guo, and one from Mercer County’s Health Science Academy, Sanjana Duggirala, of East Windsor.
Established in 1964 the program was expanded to include those who excel in the arts, as well as in academe, and it was expanded again in 2015 to add those in career and technical fields. I remember how excited I was when, in 1979, dancers were included in this prestigious program. Some years, the arts scholars performed at the Kennedy Center.
Here is how the scholars are selected. Under the original plan, the first cut is by SAT or ACT scores — the top 20 men and women from each state. For New Jersey, more than 350 were selected. This includes those who were selected by different criteria — for their achievement in the arts or in career technology fields. Then that group submits materials: essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts. That winnowed it down to 16, plus four arts students and two career/technology students.
All of these events are listed as open to the public. Declare an early weekend and network for free!
Friday, June 2, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
20th Annual Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Startup Competition & Conference: Registration, Mimosas, and Networking Opening remarks: Mung Chiang, Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering; Founding Director of the Princeton EDGE Lab, Director, Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education and Inaugural Chair, Princeton Entrepreneurship Council, Princeton University. Moderators: Mayra Ceja ’03, President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network, and Eric Sharret ’02, Vice President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network. Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network, Keller Center, Office of Career Services, Office of Technology Licensing, E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures and Sequoia. Friend Center, Auditorium 101.
10 to 11 am
Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Fireside Chat with Two Generations of Princeton Entrepreneurs: Is It in Our DNA? Moderators: Justin Ziegler ’16, Chief of Staff, Andela; Mayra Ceja ’03, President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network; Eric Sharret ’02, Vice President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network. Speakers: Jeremy Johnson ’07, Founder, Andela and 2U, and Marty Johnson ‘81, Founder, Isles, Inc. Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network, the Keller Center, the Office of Career Services, the Office of Technology Licensing, E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures and Sequoia. Friend Center, Auditorium 101.
Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Startup Showcase & Lunch To 1:00 PM. Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN), the Keller Center, the Office of Career Services, the Office of Technology Licensing, the E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures and Sequoia. Friend Center, Convocation Room
1 -2 pm
Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Pitch Competition Moderators: Mayra Ceja ’03, President, of the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network; Eric Sharret ’02, Vice President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network of PEN. To 2:00 PM. Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ 13 FRIDAY, June 2 Network (PEN), The Keller Center, Office of Career Services, Office of Technology Licensing, E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures, Sequoia. Friend Center, Auditorium 101.
2 -3 pm
20th Annual Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Reception. Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN), the Keller Center, the Office of Career Services, the Office of Technology Licensing, E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures, Sequoia. Friend Center, Upper Atrium.
my personal favorite is Saturday, June 3, 10:30 am to noon
Journalism in a Post-Fact Era Moderator: Joel Achenbach ’82, Washington Post reporter. Panelists: Joe Stephens, Ferris Professor in Residence and Washington Post investigative reporter; Edward Wong, visiting Ferris Professor and New York Times international correspondent; Nancy Cordes *99, CBS News congressional correspondent; Juliet Eilperin ’92, Washington Post senior national-affairs correspondent; Richard Just ’01, Washington Post Magazine editor; Jennifer Epstein ’08, Bloomberg White House/political reporter. Sponsored by the Princeton Alumni Weekly and the Ferris Seminars in Journalism in the Council of the Humanities. Frist Campus Center, Room 302.
and some more folks you might want to network with . . .
Happy birthday to Richard K. Rein, who turned the Big Seven Oh yesterday and ruminated on the milestone in his column today, here.
Seventy’s good, from my point of view. Seven years ago I ruminated on the same number, here. The wisdom that still works today is from Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Something fun to do on Saturday — bring your grandmother’s button box to the New Jersey State Button Society (NJSBS) show and sale on Saturday, May 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s at the Union Fire Company hall, 1396 River Road (Route 29), Titusville, NJ 08560, where there is plenty of free parking. All are welcome; admission is $2 for adults, free for juniors to age 17.
The Union Fire Company, is at 1396 River Road (at the intersection of Route 29 and Park Lake Avenue in Titusville), opposite the Delaware River and D&R Canal State Park (with easy access to the canal park), a half mile north of Washington Crossing State Park in Hopewell Township, and some five miles south of Lambertville and New Hope, PA. There is plenty of free parking. http://newjerseystatebuttonsociety.org.
Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice” is set in 1813 Regency England, where passions smolder under the veneer of a determinedly genteel society. As choreographer/librettist Douglas Martin and his team translate that novel, they hit ballet’s sweet spot. Gentility is, after all, basic to classical ballet.
This ground-breaking American Repertory Ballet production, premiered to a packed McCarter Theater on April 21, is a Douglas Martin triumph. No longer do I want to see the movie. Each character portrayed by the dancers is etched in my mind.
Every element of dance theater — character-based movement, mime, juxtapositions, props, exquisitely beautiful designs by A. Christina Gianinni, music played by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, even a surround-sound score of horses’ hooves and birds singing — helps to tell the story.
With no program synopsis, it helps to know the novel that chronicles the unfolding romance involving the witty and judgmental Elizabeth Bennet and the rich and aloof Fitzwilliam Darcy, though some characters are easy to pick out on stage.
Ballet mistress Mary Barton, wonderful as Elizabeth’s mother, Mrs. Bennet, points to the ring finger of any single man in sight and inserts her dithery head-shaking everywhere she shouldn’t.
Kathleen Moore Tovar, formerly a principal with American Ballet Theater, also shows the young’uns how. As Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine, she cuts a skirt-swishing officious swathe, punctuating her snobbish opinions by up-jerking her knee.
Aldeir Montero, new to the company, is obviously Bingley, Darcy’s genial friend. With his every lunge and leap, opening himself to the audience, he exudes friendliness, in contrast to Mattia Pallozzi, who plays Darcy.
At the ball, contemptuously looking over his shoulder, Darcy clings to himself, with one Napoleonic arm in front, the other in back.
Austap Kymko, as the black-clad unctuous clergyman Collins, oozes himself from one hilarious misstep to another
but smooths out some of the clumsiness after he marries Elizabeth’s dear friend Charlotte (Shaye Firer).
Gentility does not always prevail. When giddy youngest sister Lydia Bennet (Nanako Yamamoto) runs off with handsome seducer Wickham (Jacopo Jannelli) their bawdy sex scene rips off the veil of decorum and suddenly we seem to be looking at contemporary dance.
When Elizabeth (evocatively danced by Monica Giragosian) refuses Collins, the pragmatic Charlotte literally jumps on his back to claim him.
Mime? Throughout, and often extended into dance. When Elizabeth questions Charlotte about marrying Collins, the friends circle and touch their hands to the brows, then extend their arms out straight, question, answer, question, answer.
Juxtapositions enable insights.
Charlotte, in a not-so-good marriage, parallels the movement of the eldest Bennet sister, Jane (Lily Saito), who has been moping in a house on the other side of the stage, waiting for a suitor who does not arrive.
And an incident with a prop, a teapot, shrinks a storyline when Elizabeth outwits Lady Catherine, who has determined that Elizabeth will not be the one to pour her tea.
Scenic projections and costumes were beyond splendid. One that helped the story line was the headpiece of Caroline Bingley, which made a tall dancer (newcomer Erikka Reenstierna-Cates) an even taller and more formidable opponent to the success of the Bennet women.
There is much excellent dancing in this 140-minute ballet — lots of women on stage at one time, and many chances for men to do double turns and land on one knee.
Music was by composers that were Austen’s favorites (U.S. 1, April 19). Each worked well for that particular dance and was vibrantly played by the PSO, directed by John Devlin. They did not build to the kind of climax that comes with Tchaikovsky ballets, but at moments of high emotion Martin inserted duets by Schubert or Mendelssohn, played by pianist Jonathan Benjamin with either cellist Michael Katz or violinist Grace Park.
The dramatic climax comes, of course, when Jane and Elizabeth get their men. Jane’s longed-for pas de deux with Bingley is simple joy — quick quivering beats with gentle lifts and expansive arabesques.
Elizabeth, in contrast, has spent most of the evening rejecting Darcy. Conflicted, he rarely offers open gestures and his first proposal is, literally, backhanded. With his back to the audience he twists himself into saying, in tightly gripped movement, that he loves her in spite of himself. She flounces off. Then, when she is devastated by the Wickham scandal, Darcy signals his desire to help with an expressive leg movement — an open rond de jambe — and sets out to fix the situation.
Upon his return, as she stretches arms-wide in longing, he catches her in mid air, and she curls her head on his shoulder in delight. Again, she stretches to the nth, and curls around him.
The once haughty Darcy lies down behind her, his head by her knee, in an act of obeisance, and the audience erupts in applause.
(Addendum: In this video of a rehearsal, the first bit is Elizabeth dancing with the dastardly but charming Wickham. In the second, she dances with Darcy after she loves him. In the fourth scene Caroline obnoxiously separates Elizabeth from Darcy.)
Rarely do I venture out of retirement to write a dance review, but a gaping hole needed to be filled. American Repertory Ballet premiered a full-length ballet about the classic novel “Pride and Prejudice,” and the arts editor of U.S. 1 Newspaper, Dan Aubrey, said “We need to review this” so here it is.
If given more space, I would more strongly emphasize that if you like to know what is going on, you need to study the book carefully. So much happens between so many people that it’s hard to follow. I am not a student of Austen, had not paid attention to any of the pre-event publicity, and barely had time to scan SparkNotes and it wasn’t enough. I’d have done better looking at the pictures, on ARB’s Facebook page, of the characters in costume — as pictured above, the Bennett family in the second scene, Mr. Bennet brandishing the invitation to the ball. In the first scene he visited Bingley and Darcy to obtain it. You’d have been quite puzzled by that scene if you didn’t know the story.
Also hard to fit in the assigned space — the real joy of watching these dancers liberated from tape by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. The production values were fabulous.
Two important discussions, among youth, take place Saturday morning. The local one welcomes all but requires reservations. Anyone can just show up to the national event.
On April 29, the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) and PULSE youth organizations of Princeton High School will bring together students, parents, teachers, school staff, community partners and organizations for a day of discussions on current topics impacting our schools and community. In addition to hearing from guest motivational speaker Jonice Arthur, participants will have opportunities to dialogue in small groups, hear from a student-led panel, and enjoy lunch while engaging and encouraging our future leaders.
The event will take place from 9 am to 1 pm at Princeton High School 151 Moore Street Princeton, NJ 08541. RSVP required.
The prize winners participate in four panels, followed by an 11 a.m. keynote address, “A Woke Democracy,” by Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP. Members of the community are warmly invited to attend. No registration is needed.