Performer Vanessa Daou
Collaborates with MCCC Theatre/Dance Program
internationally renowned singer/songwriter Vanessa Daou extended
her hand to MCCC's Theatre and Dance students. In
a lengthy Q&A session on campus in March, she shared her knowledge
of the music business and her personal experience as an independent
woman in a tough field.
that it's not who you know; it's how good you are. "In the
end it's the quality and intrinsic value of your work that matters,"
she told a capacity crowd of theatre, dance, communications, visual
arts, and entertainment technology students.
students to branch out intellectually. "Explore art and science.
Appreciate things that have nothing to do with you. I listen to
artists that I'm nothing at all like," she said. Daou was a
visual arts and art history major at Barnard College who approaches
her music as a synthesis of sight, sound, written word and song
with influences from jazz, blues, rock, folk, electronica and poetry.
She shared another gift with students in May when she gave permission
for the Mercer Dance Ensemble to use selections from her just-released
album, "Joe Sent Me," as the sultry, stylish and innovative
accompaniment for its annual concert. Entitled "Joe Sent MDE,"
the show recalled the underground scene that emerged during the
Prohibition era, when the code phrase "Joe sent me" helped
people gain access to speakeasies.
of Mercer Dance Ensemble with Vanessa Daou, middle row, center.
Visual Arts student Ryan Lawyer used a variety of graphic elements
for this Daou collage.
lighting by Entertainment Technology faculty member Robert Terrano enhanced
the performance, which was videotaped by TV students and faculty member
According to Alex DeFazio, adjunct faculty member who initiated contact
with Daou via e-mail, "The idea of building a dance concert around
the album grew out of our e-mail exchanges. It was clear to me from the
beginning that she would be a very special artist for our students to
work with. Here is a woman who has achieved both professional and critical
respect. I told her about our students' talent and dedication, and she
didn't hesitate for a moment to offer her music and full spirit to the
The show was choreographed by MCCC faculty members Janell Byrne and Jody
Person, and Dance alumna Jennifer Gladney, and featured 21 dancers. Following
the show, which Daou attended, she wrote on her blog of "their absolutely
stunning, scintillating performance of Joe Sent MDE."
DeFazio observes, "Daou is sharing her belief in our students with
everyone who follows her music, and the result is that people are talking
about Mercer, people who had never heard of us before." Daou is expected
to post video from the concert on her websites and incorporate the footage
into the ever-expanding multi-media project of her album.
DeFazio acknowledges that the bar has been raised as the result of this
collaboration. "We plan to reach out to other artists like Daou in
the future. Our students deserve every opportunity we can create for them."
Return to Current News