Joyce Theater, NYC
The Joyce Theater in New York City is one of the world’s premier dance theaters. Nicholas Leichter, a recent Maggie Allesee Artist in Residence, invited three dance majors to perform with his company at the Joyce. Alex Martin (‘10), Brian Strimpel (‘11), and Kate Vincek (‘10) performed Killa with Leichter’s company.
Deborah Jowitt, who reviewed the concert for The Village Voice, described the students as “…intrepid…they can rap, tap, back flip, and do head spins.”
Leichter saw the potential of these dancers during his residency, and described the three of them as “dancers…who can interpret my work with commitment, focus, clarity, style, and substance.”
Strimpel described the experience by saying, “Walking out from the Green Room after each performance and receiving applause as a part of a professional company was a rewarding feeling that I never imagined would be happening to me so early in my dancing career.”
Vincek expressed the value of the experience this way, “I have more of an idea of how professional dance companies function…this prepared me for my future.”
These dancers prepare for life after college by building professional networks through various workshops and by participating in guest residencies. It is both unusual and highly desirable to be able to perform with high-profile professional companies while completing a degree.
The Comfenalco, an arts organization in Columbia, sponsored Corporality: The Dialogue of the Senses, an arts intensive and workshop in Cali, Columbia. Adjunct faculty member Ali Woerner was invited to present as part of the workshop, and showed Wallflower, a new work featuring Strimpel and Vincek.
“We were immersed in the Columbian culture,” says Woerner, “but we also got to explore our common ground—and our differences through our experiences in the arts.”
Participants spent the morning in classes at Universidad San Buenaventura, teaching and training. Vincek said of the experience, “It was such a great opportunity in that we not only got to experience a beautiful foreign place, but also bring new experiences to people who know nothing about dance and who are eager to learn anything they can. I was inspired and touched by everyone involved, and the trip overall has made a lasting impact on me.”
Each afternoon was spent in arts workshops with Comfenalco. “It is amazing how art can bring people together regardless of how culturally different they are,” said Strimpel. “I wish that more people could be involved in projects like this—it would bring the world closer together and eliminate naivete.”
Both students felt their lives were changed. “I was inspired and touched by everyone involved, and the trip overall has made a lasting impact on me,” said Vincek.
Strimpel added, “Experiencing such a wonderful culture with such wonderful people has really given me a new and more informed view on life.”
Woerner, Vincek, and Strimpel traveled to Columbia with support from Comfenalco, the College of Fine, Performing, and Communication Arts, and from the Maggie Allesee Department of Dance.
Audience members in The Maggie Allesee Studio Theatre will now be seated on retractable risers, newly installed this past summer. The risers will make every seat a good one, as each level is high enough to see over the one before.
The new seating system makes the space feel more welcoming. Audience members will walk into the seating area, rather than walking past the back of the technical equipment. Dr. Doug Risner notes “Riser seating has been on our ‘wish list’ for a number of years. This upgrade professionalizes the theatre and will have a strong impact on our program’s performance and choreography curriculum.”
An additional enhancement is an upgraded new front lighting system in the Studio Theatre. This will allow performances and lectures to be lit more appropriately from the front, enabling audience members to more fully see the faces of the performers. “For some time, our extraordinary lighting capacity has been limited when it comes to front light,” says Ray Robinson, Interim Chair. “This addition will greatly enhance our capacity both practically and artistically.”
The Dance Media Center has acquired all new iMac computers, as well as a new layout that accommodates more students while also feeling more open. Upgrades to the hardware and software assure that our dance majors will continue to have access to the latest technologies for image, sound, video, and Web design.
Finally, the Pilates studio has been enhanced with several new reformers and other equipment to facilitate an increasing number of dance majors’ conditioning needs.
Experience the upgraded Studio Theatre at the December Department Concert on December 4th and 6th.
The Bachelor of Science in Dance is designed for students who love dance and want to find and design a career in a dance profession, such as dance administration, film and television, dance production, teaching, studio management, dance science, dance in higher education, technology, dance therapy, and many others.
“These changes will expose dance students to the practical outcomes of a college dance degree,” says Ray Robinson, interim chair. “We recognize that these students want to see how the degree program applies to both their love of dance and the need to find a productive career after college.”
The BS track in Dance melds the study of dance, culture and community. The program provides students with opportunities to enhance technical skill, investigate shifting social and global concerns, and cultivate innovative approaches to teaching in a variety of settings. Through its unique blend of inquiry, practice and technology, the BS in dance prepares students to be imaginative and innovative leaders for improving people’s lives and social circumstances through dance arts education and related professions.
“Most students don’t realize the many career options available in dance beyond performance,” notes Dr. Doug Risner, BS Program Director. “This newly revised program carefully guides students to successful careers in multiple dance and dance-related professions from freshmen year through graduation.”
Close proximity to Detroit Public Schools, Detroit Music Hall, Detroit Opera House, and Detroit Institute of Arts, among others, provide BS majors with excellent urban laboratories for learning through exciting internships and apprenticeships with experts in leading regional and national arts programs.
For more information on this innovative program, email email@example.com with BS Degree in the subject line.
Janis Brenner, who will come to campus in early October, is an award-winning artist and the director of Janis Brenner and Dancers in New York City. Brenner’s work explores the passion, humor, depth and emotional power of our relationships to each other, ourselves and the world around us.
Sonya Tayeh (‘05), who will come in January 2010, is best known for her work on Fox television’s So You Think You Can Dance, and has choreographed for many other shows and competitions. We are particularly excited to welcome her back to her alma mater — she graduated from this program.
Both guests will teach and choreograph — you’ll see both pieces in our spring concert at the Bonstelle Theatre in downtown Detroit, and you’re invited to join us at the end of each residency for a showing and talk by the choreographers.
Our concert calendar has changed a little from previous years. Faculty members and friends will produce an informal concert in October, “Faculty & Friends,” and then we’ll host our annual December Departmental concert in December along with the debut of this year’s CompanyOne show, touring the Detroit metro area during Winter 2010. You can stay current with all of our activities through our online calendar, accessible through our blog at: www.wsudance.blogspot.com
Immediately after the ABT Summer Intensive, Smith attended the Joffrey Ballet School’s Summer Intensive Performance Track in New York City on full scholarship with the assistance of adjunct faculty member, Meg Paul.
“The Ballet Intensive was the most demanding yet beneficial of all my experiences during my stay in New York. I took class from the Artistic Director of the Ballet School, former principals of Russian, New York, French, and other major ballet companies. One of the pieces I performed in was choreographed by Alexandre Proia, former dancer of the Paris Opera, Donald Byrd, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, and former partner of Sylvie Guillem. I was honored to perform the only solo in his contemporary piece Buzz ... I can not even begin to explain how inspirational and wonderful it was to work with Alexandre and all the other artists that came to the program.”
Smith was offered a full scholarship to attend the Joffrey Ballet School Trainee Program, and was asked to stay an extra week to attend Joffrey’s Jazz and Contemporary program on a full scholarship. Former Allesee Artist in Residence, Ben Munisteri’s company was performing at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors during his stay, so Aaron was able to attend a few of Munisteri’s rehearsals.
“My technique and artistry has grown so much over this summer and has also opened my mind to so many other opportunities, and experiences I did not know I would have during my undergraduate studies.”
Summer 2009 has been an exciting one for students and faculty. Collectively, we have presented papers at national and international conferences, conducted workshops around the globe, performed in prestigious theaters, and continued training at various summer intensives.
The 2009 entering class is the largest in recent memory. We have an extraordinary group of talented BFA and BS majors, who are working hard as scholars and artists. As you’ll read in this newsletter, people are noticing our students and want to work with them.
Faculty members have been busy as well – mentoring students in various creative and research projects and continuing to conduct research and create work.
This fall, BS majors will find a unique focus to their studies – exploring the wide variety of careers in and related to dance – and will be able to direct their studies and their relationships toward their chosen careers.
The struggling economy has affected us like everyone else. Despite the challenges, when you come visit us in Old Main you’ll find an upgraded Maggie Allesee Studio Theatre, Dance Media Center, upgraded Pilates equipment, and most importantly you’ll find students and faculty working very hard to continue building the legacy of the Maggie Allesee Department of Dance.
We want to hear from you – you are a valuable part of this community. Enjoy this newsletter, come see a show, help fund a scholarship, check out our website and our blog and let us know how we’re doing.