In the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, together we persevere, discover, investigate, connect, and engage. From concerns about human bioaerosol emissions to finding new spaces and ways to perform, faculty and students in the performing arts have been challenged to find new ways to express themselves and the human condition.
Together, we advance the human experience.
For CSU Dance, modifications to physical space and choreography have provided creative outlets for skill development within the context of COVID-19 limitations. On the first day of Fall 2020 classes, Dance Techniques III, taught by Director of Dance Emily Morgan, held class outside in the (smoky) Annual Trial Flower Garden at CSU. In addition, the virtual mode allowed the Dance program to host 10 different guest artists with a focus on dancers/choreographers of color. The virtual guests offered our students something beyond the Eurocentric forms of ballet and modern dance that the program currently focuses on. In addition, one guest artist offered two “dance for film” classes. Instead of making in-person dances, students made dances for film.
On Tuesday night, Sept. 1, 2020, CSU Theatre lit the UCA red, joining performing arts organizations across the country in support of a nationwide call to action that urged Congress to pass the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481) and the Save Our Stages Act (S. 4258/H.R. 7806). Arts Management Assistant Professor Michael Seman, who has done extensive research on Colorado’s creative economies, teamed up with University of Toronto researcher Richard Florida to examine the pandemic’s impact on the arts nationwide. While the losses have been great, Seman sees this crisis as a turning point. After enduring months of limited access to live performances, people across the country are recognizing the value of the performing arts and have advocated for more support of creative industries.
The show must – and has – gone on! CSU Theatre engaged with new technology in order to connect with audiences and students in a new way. During the pandemic, they tapped into their technical creativity and compelling performance skills to achieve something extraordinary. This past fall, CSU Theatre presented a live-action Zoom production of Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gilman, and produced their first full-length digital production — Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill.
For performing and visual artists, the natural environment is a prominent muse; during COVID-19, the outdoors has allowed performers to continue creating in a healthy space. Connection to nature, both as an inspiration and a viable venue for dance, was expressed through two pieces produced by CSU dance majors for the annual Body/Speak Concert, presented digitally for 2021. Having grown up in Breckenridge, senior dance major and choreographer Emily Wallace has always been in awe of the mountains. “I was inspired to make a piece about the simultaneous beauty and freedom as well as isolation and daunting nature that I feel while looking over a mountain range.” Connect to nature through dance with “Hauntingly Beautiful” by Emily Wallace, and “Interim: Connection/Isolation” by Brianna Port.
Based on preliminary results from CSU’s research on human bioaerosol emissions during performing arts activities, all ensembles involving the indoor playing of wind instruments and indoor singing were suspended last fall. Rather than abandon a semester of group music-making, however, music students honed face-to-face collaboration skills through distanced playing and masked singing outside on the University Center for the Arts grounds. As we necessarily broadened the definitions of rehearsing, collaborating, and performing, CSU music students grew as artists and created music, even if it looked and sounded unlike anything they had done before.