Skip to content

Enlivening Dance Onstage: What’s Edgy Now?


Photo by: BokovFactory

The Cockefair Chair Speakers Committee and the Kansas City Ballet have invited award-winning dancer, choreographer, author and dance critic, Wendy Perron to present the next lecture on May 17th.

Perron, author of Through the Eyes of a Dancer, had a 30-year career as a dancer/choreographer. She danced with the Trisha Brown company in the 1970s and choreographed more than 40 works for her own group. She has taught at Bennington, Princeton, and the Five College Dance Department among many other schools and dance centers. In the early 1990s she served as associate director of Jacob’s Pillow, where she directed intensives in postmodern dance and improvisation. The former longtime editor in chief of Dance Magazine, Wendy has also written for The New York Times, The Village Voice, Contact Quarterly, and

During her lecture, Perron will present videos illustrating the work of risk-taking choreographers and explain what she sees as the future of contemporary dance. How have choreographers Jowole Willa Jo Zollar, Crystal Pite, Wayne McGregor, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin and Bill T. Jones moved the image of the beautiful female dancer and the heroic male dancer to dynamic and innovative new ways of thinking about movement in dance? How do these choreographers go deeper into what it means to be human? How have they addressed issues of political and cultural identity with fresh insights and new expression?

This event is free and open to the public, but a reservation is requested through the Central Ticket Office.

Cockefair Chair Course Schedule Spring 2016

The 2016 Cockefair Chair Courses are your chance to learn about Stphen Sondheim’s music, the Civil War on the Kansas/Missouri border, the race for the White House, or Shakespeare’s plays about love and money. Can’t choose? Sign up for one or all. Learn more here:

The Anarchy: India Between Empires

BW4-1William Dalrymple is the speaker for the Cockefair Spring, 2016 program on April 5th. Dalrymple, Scottish historian and writer, has a broad range of interests, including the history and art of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Muslim world, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Jains and early Eastern Christianity.

A well-respected broadcaster and critic, Dalrymple’s publications have won numerous awards and prizes, including the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award, the Hemingway, the Kapuściński and the Wolfson Prizes. His travel books, histories and essays have been translated into more than 40 languages.

Dalrymple has had visiting appointments to the faculties at both Princeton and Brown. His writing appears in The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, the New Statesman, Time magazine, the New Statesman and The New Yorker. The BBC television and radio stations have broadcast several of his series on Indian history.

The topic of his presentation on April 5th will be about the transformation of the East India Company and the lessons its brutal reign over India should serve for the present.

Cockefair Lecture Final 3

On this site, you can access the slides Professor Gerald Wyckoff used in the course, “Knowing the Past to Know the Future.”CockefairLectureFinal3

“Six Musical Masterpieces That Made America”

The Cockefair Chair Speakers Committee has invited Dr. Anna Harwell Celenza to present the fall lecture on Nov. 19, 2015. Celenza will discuss and play portions of the six musical masterpieces that changed American attitudes and, ultimately, American history. A reception in Pierson Auditorium will precede the program at 5:30 p.m. Celenza will speak and perform the influential pieces from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but a reservation is requested through the Central Ticket Office.

Photo by Annie Schlechter

Photo by Annie Schlechter

Thanks to technology, music is always with us, permeating our lives through radio, smart phones, TV commercials, movie scores, elevators and shopping malls. So we tend to think of music as nothing more than a background for our lives. Music really belongs at the forefront.

As Professor Celenza demonstrates, music has the power to change culture. She will highlight the music that transformed America:  a drinking song that came to symbolize American patriotism; a concert work that altered Americans’ concept of “music;” an orchestral suite and ballad that stirred the flames of the Civil Rights movement; a musical that inadvertently fed negative Hispanic stereotypes; and a pop album that influenced American foreign policy.

Celenza is the Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown University and the author of several scholarly books, including Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America (2014) and Hans Christian Andersen and Music: The Nightingale Revealed (2005). Her work has also appeared in The Hopkins Review, Musical Quarterly, Nineteenth-Century Music, Notes, The Cambridge Companion to Liszt (2005), and Franz Liszt and His World (2006) and The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington (2014).

Celenza also has authored a series of award-winning children’s books with Charlesbridge Publishing: The Farewell Symphony (2000), Pictures at an Exhibition (2003), The Heroic Symphony (2004), Bach’s Goldberg Variations (2005), Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (2006), Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite (2011), Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (2012), Saint-Saëns’s Danse macabre (2013) and a 14-part syndicated series on Louis Armstrong for the NC Press Foundation.

She has been featured on nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, including NPR’s “Todd Mundt Show”, BBC’s “Music Matters” and “Proms Broadcasts,” and C-Span’s “Book-TV.” Before coming to Georgetown, Celenza was a writer and guest commentator for Michigan Public Radio and NPR’s “Performance Today.”

Cockefair Chair Course Schedule Fall 2015

A series celebrating the inspiration of Carolyn Benton CockCockefair Logo_2008_BWefair


Policing and the Community
Ken Novak, Ph.D., Professor
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. – noon
September 10, 17 and 24
Kenwood Room, Central United Methodist Church,
5144 Oak St.
$34 ($49 with additional parking permits)
This course will focus on ways police and the community work and don’t work together, with resulting implications for public safety. Professor Novak will focus on how police, community and criminals have developed misconceptions of each other and also will discuss the basis for racial reconciliation between the police and the public. Novak also will discuss the KC NoVA approach to violent crime, for which he developed training materials. The course also will include a discussion roundtable, featuring a community leader and KCPD’s Major Joe McHale, who heads NoVA.

The American West in the National Imagination
John Herron, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair and Associate Director, Honors Program
Department of History
Tuesdays, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
October 6, 13 and 20
Kenwood Room, Central United Methodist Church, 5144 Oak St.
$34 ($49 with additional parking permits)
In this course, Professor Herron will discuss the most interesting of all American regions—the Trans-Mississippi American West. He will trace the ways in which, in both history and mythology, the West has played a pivotal role in the formation of American society. Through the course we will discover that the West was, and remains, far more complex and multifaceted than simply cowboys and Indians, as Herron demonstrates that it is from this region that America as a whole has developed its
distinctive shape.

Knowing the Past to Know the Future: Drug Design, Genetic Testing and the Future
of Medicine
Gerald J. Wyckoff, Ph.D., Professor
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, School of Biological Sciences
Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. – noon
November 3, 10 and 17
Kenwood Room, Central United Methodist Church, 5144 Oak St.
$34 ($49 with additional parking permits)
Professor Wyckoff will explain the ways in which an understanding of evolutionary biology is critical to modern medicine, particularly as it informs and influences the development and design of new drugs. Wyckoff also will discuss some of the scientific, ethical, legal and economic issues and problems that pharmaceutical companies face in the process of developing new drugs, conducting clinical trials and bringing new prescription medications to the market. Finally, the course will cover issues involved with genetic testing and the ways in which the rise of personalized medicine will affect patients and consumers.

Parking for all courses is in the UMKC Cherry St. Parking Garage at 50th and Cherry on levels 3, 4 and 5. Metered parking is available on level 5 and a shuttle will transport attendees to and from the garage and Central United Methodist Church. Purchase of parking permits is optional and will be mailed to registrants before each course begins. Both signage and UMKC Advancement staff will be on site at the garage to assist attendees to the shuttle for transportation to and from the church.

Enrollment form

UMKC College of Arts and Sciences
Continuing Education
Noncredit Registration
Carolyn Benton Cockefair Chair Courses Fall 2015
Space is limited. Only paid pre-registration assures a seat
in the class.
Enroll me in the following:
o Policing and the Community
o Include parking for this class
o The American West in the National Imagination
o Include parking for this class
o Knowing the Past to Know the Future: Drug Design, Genetic Testing and the Future of Medicine
o Include parking for this class
City State ZIP
Email address
Method of payment (check one)
o Check (made payable to UMKC)
o MasterCard o Visa o Discover
Card number
Expiration date
Cardholder’s name Relationship

Return this form to:
University of Missouri-Kansas City
College of Arts and Sciences
Continuing Education
5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2446

For more information:
Fax: 816-235-5279
Call 816-235-2736 to register by phone.
Relay Missouri: 1-800-735-2966 (TTY)

Charlie Parker is topic of August luncheon

chuckThe August 13, 2015 Cockefair luncheon will present a talk by UMKC’s own Chuck Haddix, Sound Archivist at the Marr Sound Archives, host of KCUR-FM radio’s “Fish Fry,” and author of “Bird:  The Life and Music of Charlie Parker,” published by the University of Illinois Press.

Haddix’s program is part of the city-wide celebration of famed saxophonist Parker, and a group led by Hermon Mehari will play some of the songs Parker made famous. Mehari is a prize-winning graduate of UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance.

The luncheon is at Mission Hills Country Club, and tickets are $25 per person. Details about making reservations will follow.

Land Institute President to Speak

Wes Jackson, founder and president of the Land Institute and a member of the World Future Council, will give a talk entitled “Solving the 10,000 Year-Old Problem of Agriculture: a Progress Report,” at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium on April 29.  Jackson was chosen as a MacArthur Fellow in 1992, and has written many books about land use, including “New Roots for Agriculture,” and “Man and the Environment.” His appearance is sponsored by the Cockefair Chair in Continuing Education.

A reception will precede the event at 6:00 p.m., followed by his presentation at 6:30 p.m. Jackson will be available to sign books after his talk. This is a free event, but reservations are requested. No tickets will be issued. For more details, call 816-235-6222 or email (Relay Missouri: 800-735-2966 (TTY))

Pierson Auditorium is inside the Atterbury Student Success Center, 51st & Holmes, Kansas City, Mo 64110.

Parking is available in the lot north of the Student Success Center. The Cherry Street Parking structure is also available for parking on levels 5. Park near the Northeast Tower (big green & white sign) and use the Northeast Tower covered walk (Level 5) to point you towards Pierson Auditorium.


George Packer – Cockefair Lecture Feb. 26, 2015

George Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorkeris the author of “Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq.” This work analyzes the events that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and reports on subsequent developments in that country, largely based on interviews with ordinary Iraqis. Because of current unrest in the Middle East, Packer’s timely Cockefair Spring Lecture will center on renewed tensions in that region, the emergence of ISIS and our commitment of more troops to Iraq.

He is also the author of  “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America,” a New York Times best seller and National Book Award winner; two novels, “The Half Man” and “Central Square”; and the play, “Betrayed.” He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

The program is Feb. 26 in Pierson Auditorium, Atterbury Student Success Center, 5000 Holmes, KCMO. there is no charge for the lecture, but a reservation is requested.

A reception and refreshments will be served in Pierson at 6 p.m. and the program will start at 6:30.

Cockefair Chair Spring 2015 Courses

The Cockefair Chair committee, in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences, has again arranged a series of non-credit classes that are provocative, informative and timely. Using the blue “Cockefair Classes” button at the top of this page, you will find a rundown of the offerings for Spring 2015 and an enrollment form. Learn about the evolution of film, the meanings in book illustrations, women authors finding their voices, and the upcoming elections of 2016. Class size is limited, so sign up promptly.