'Dancer, Harlem,' James Van Der Zee, negative 1924, printed 1974. Photo courtesy Williams College Museum of Art

Bits & Bytes: James Van Der Zee talk; swing dancing at Dewey Hall; Virtual Dementia Tour; after-school tennis challenge

The virtual tours will enable participants to experience for themselves the physical and mental challenges faced by those with dementia.

Presentation to highlight photography of James Van Der Zee

Emilie Boone. Photo courtesy CUNY New York City College of Technology

Williamstown — Emilie Boone, an assistant professor of art history in the African American studies department at CUNY New York City College of Technology, will speak present the talk “James Van Der Zee’s Forgotten Photographic Practice: New Forms of Visual Engagement” Thursday, April 18, at 5:30 p.m. at the Williams College Museum of Art.

Born and raised in Lenox, Van Der Zee established a thriving photography studio in Harlem by 1916 and served as the foremost chronicler of black life in New York City during the early 20th century. Boone’s talk considers Van Der Zee’s intentional strategy of cultivating clientele locally and internationally through enlargement and retouching services.

Boone, who completed a Mellon Curatorial Fellowship at WCMA in the spring of 2016, focuses on the art and photography of the African diaspora. Currently the Chester Dale Fellow in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Photographs, she is advancing a book project on Van Der Zee.

The talk is free and open to the public, and is presented in conjunction with the exhibit “James Van Der Zee: Collecting History,” which highlights WCMA’s recently acquired portfolio of 18 Van Der Zee photographs and is on display through Sunday, June 2. For more information, contact the Williams College Museum of Art at (413) 597–2429 or wcma@williams.edu.


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The Useless Cans. Photo: Kiki Vassilakis

Dewey Hall to host swing dancing with the Useless Cans

Sheffield — Oldtone Native will present a night of swing dancing Friday, April 19, at Dewey Hall, beginning with a lesson with Jason Fenton at 8 p.m. Dancing to live music from the Useless Cans will begin at 9 p.m.

Born in New York’s capital region, the Useless Cans have been bringing a mix of original and standard old-time jazz, folk and traditional Russian tunes to their audiences since 2016. The trio consists of Bobby Davis on guitar, Dylan Perrillo on upright bass, and Julia Posin on vocals and washboard. The band just finished its third EP, titled “Breezy Point,” which features tunes mostly written by Davis and inspired by the current political and social climate.

The cost is a sliding fee of $10–$20. Beginners are welcome, partners are not necessary and refreshments will be available. For more information, contact (413) 429-1176 or beth@oldtonemusicfestival.com.


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Kimball Farms to host Virtual Dementia Tours

Lenox — Kimball Farms Life Care will host a Virtual Dementia Tour Thursday, April 25, from 8 a.m. to noon. The event offered by Second Wind Dreams and presented by Kimball Farms, will be led by trained facilitators, who will guide participants outfitted with patented devices that alter their senses while they try to complete common, everyday tasks and exercises. The tours will enable participants to experience for themselves the physical and mental challenges faced by those with dementia, and to use the experience to provide better person-centered care and services.

Attendance is limited to eight people at each session. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP to (413) 637-7002.


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Lee CTA to hold after-school tennis team challenges

Lee — The Lee Community Tennis Association will hold its first-ever tennis team challenges beginning Wednesday, April 24, at 3:30 p.m. and run through May 22 at the Lee Elementary School gym and the Lee Middle and High School tennis courts.

Over the course of six sessions, Berkshire children in grades 3 to 6 who have had some experience playing will be placed on level-play-based teams for competitive play in a fun and safe environment without an emphasis on instruction or results. Beginners who can drop hit and rally a few times over the net will be introduced to competition in a low-pressure team environment that highlights character and skill development.

The team challenge will be led by Professional Tennis Registry certified instructor and Lee CTA lead provider Clare “Bunnie” Lahey, assisted by a physical education teacher and more than 20 volunteer coaches, all of whom are SafeSport certified.

The program will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 24; Monday, April 29; Wednesday, May 1; Wednesday, May 8; Monday, May 13; and Wednesday, May 22. The total fee is $40, including snacks at each session and a T-shirt. For more information or to sign up, contact Clare Lahey at (413) 243-3240 or info@leecta.com. The registration deadline is Wednesday, April 17.