Major author Joyce Carol Oates and legendary dancer Savion Glover open new arts conversation series at UAlbany

"The Creative Life" features artists at the peak of their careers in conversation about their craft and their careers

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Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author of more than 160 books Photo credit: Dustin Cohen

ALBANY, NY (08/25/2016)(readMedia)-- The inaugural events in a new conversation series in the arts at UAlbany will feature two major American artists at the peak of their careers: fiction writer Joyce Carol Oates, and dancer-choreographer Savion Glover. Oates will appear at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center on UAlbany's main campus at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 15. Glover will appear on Saturday, October 15 at 1 p.m. at Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, on the UAlbany downtown campus. The events are free and open to the public.

The Creative Life: A Conversation Series at UAlbany is an exciting new initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center, and University Art Museum, all of which are housed and function on the main campus of the University at Albany. Presented by the University at Albany Foundation, the series will feature live onstage interviews conducted by WAMC's Joe Donahue with artists of national and international prominence in conversation about their creative inspiration, their craft, their careers, and the demands of sustaining an artistic practice over time. A question and answer period will close all of the programs.

"Our guests will span the creative disciplines, including writing, music, dance, choreography, visual arts, architecture, theatre, and filmmaking," said Janet Riker, Director of the University Art Museum. "The series will celebrate the depth and range of artistic practices, and explore what it means to dedicate one's life to a creative pursuit."

While the University's three major cultural presenting organizations have worked together on a few specific events, this new initiative will expand and deepen that collaboration. "We are very excited about formalizing our partnership, which has resulted in several very successful collaborations in the past," said Suzanne Lance, Assistant Director of the Writers Institute. "The interdisciplinary nature of The Creative Life series will affirm the value of the arts in all our lives. It is also intended to bring attention to the vibrant arts community on the University at Albany campus."

The series was inspired by a similar event last spring when acclaimed choreographer Twyla Tharp visited UAlbany and was interviewed before a live audience. "The success of this format was readily apparent after that event," said Kim Engel, Assistant Director of the Performing Arts Center. "It was abundantly clear that audience members were eager to listen to this artist speak about her everyday life, her challenges, successes, hopes and dreams. It seemed logical to emulate that event and expand upon it affording University and Capital Region audiences the opportunity to hear from and get to know additional artists of national and international acclaim."

Additional events in the series are currently being planned for the spring of 2017.

September 15 (Thursday): Joyce Carol Oates, fiction writer, essayist, poet, and playwright

Conversation - 7:30 p.m., Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center, UAlbany Uptown Campus

Joyce Carol Oates, prolific author of more than 160 books, is a five-time Pulitzer finalist and a perennial favorite to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. said in The Nation that "a future archaeologist equipped with only her oeuvre could easily piece together the whole of postwar America." Oates is the author of 44 novels, including them (1969), winner of the National Book Award, Black Water (1992), Foxfire (1993), We Were the Mulvaneys (1996), and Blonde (2000). She received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2010.

Her most recent novel is The Man Without a Shadow (2016), a love story about an ambitious neuroscientist and the handsome amnesiac under her care. The Washington Post reviewer called it, "one of the most curious and moving love affairs in contemporary fiction." Oates is also the author of a recent memoir of her working class, Upstate New York girlhood, The Lost Landscape: A Writer's Coming of Age (2015). Oprah's O. Magazine called it "a tender-hearted excavation of her hardscrabble early life," and said, "in sharing with us the lost landscape of her childhood, she has ensured it will never be forgotten." Her new collection of essays is Soul at the White Heat: Inspiration, Obsession, and the Writing Life (2016). The New York Times Book Review said, "who better than Joyce Carol Oates . . . to explicate the craft of writing?"

October 15 (Saturday): Savion Glover, tap dancer, choreographer, and actor

Conversation - 1:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, UAlbany Downtown Campus

Savion Glover is a Tony award-winning choreographer and "the greatest tap dancer to ever lace up a pair of tap shoes" (Gregory Hines). At the age of 10 he starred in the Broadway musical The Tap Dance Kid, which earned seven Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. At the age of 15, he received a Tony nomination for his role in Black and Blue and, three years later, a Drama Desk Award nomination for his role in Jelly's Last Jam. He both starred in and choreographed the musical Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, for which he received the Tony for choreography. In 2016, he earned another Tony nomination for choreography for Shuffle Along.

Glover has made numerous appearances on Sesame Street and also performed the live capture dance moves for "Mumble," the penguin in the Disney film HAPPY FEET (2006) and its 2011 sequel. He's the author of the 2000 memoir for young readers, Savion! My Life in Tap, "A fascinating account of the remarkable career of the young dancer/choreographer whose incorporation of rap and hip-hop into a declining American art form renewed the popularity of tap dancing" (School Library Journal).

NOTE: Glover will premiere his latest work New Soundz, at The Egg on October 15 at 8:00 p.m. (For information contact The Egg Box Office at 518-473-1845)

The Creative Life events are free and open to the public. Contact the Performing Arts Center's box office at (518) 442-3997 for additional information.

Major support for The Creative Life is provided by The University at Albany Foundation, with additional support from University Auxiliary Services.