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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Creative Experimentation

The last words uttered by the crazed Roman Emperor Nero, before he took his life, were “Qualis artifex pereo.” For the many Latin illiterates out there, a rough English translation would be somewhere along the lines of “What an artist the world loses in me.” With today’s weak economy and numerous budget cuts, there really is a serious loss of artists as many of them would rather trade their passion for a more financially stable path, like a nursing degree. In addition, local school districts with a lack of funding due to budget cuts simply can’t afford to provide as many artistic outlets as they would like for their students to explore.

The theatre and dance department here at UC Davis has come up with a way to combat that problem. The T&D department just launched the Institute for Explorations in Theatre, Dance and Performance this year and it is currently accepting applications from interested students, as well as any staff or faulty member on campus, until Nov. 21.

Professor Lynette Hunter, chair of the theatre and dance department, sees IETDP as a grand opportunity for Davis students to take advantage of.

“The idea behind the Institute is to encourage an understanding of these activities as producing creative insight and new knowledge that contributes to the mission of universities to open up new ways of understanding each other and the world,” Hunter said. “We believe people need to be encouraged to see the areas of theatre, dance and performance as valuable to culture and society as a whole.”

The new program was originally conceived by faculty member, Professor David Grenke, a former principal dancer at the Paul Taylor Dance Company and choreographer. Grenke’s idea for the program was that it would have a dual purpose: for students to not only have an outlet to perform, but also to use it as a research activity in the department and on campus.

Professor Jon Rossini, a popular faculty member of the theatre and dance department gave more information about Grenke’s goal of intertwining performance with research.

“The hope is that it will draw attention to the intersections of research and performance, provide opportunities for individuals outside of theatre and dance, and advance the thinking about performance as a mode of doing research,” Rossini said.

Hunter further elaborates on what she, as well as the entire department, hopes students can gain from the Institute.

“On a really basic level the Institute is there to get students, faculty and staff from all over the campus involved in theatre, dance and performance,” Hunter said. “The Institute is a departmental response to this interest, to open up our facilities and knowledge to a much wider audience.”

Applicants don’t have to have years of training in any art form, but are advised to at least be familiar with theatre, dance, or performance so that they can have a clear idea of what type of art research they’d like to pursue.

“I think that the Institute offers a unique laboratory environment in which artists can feel safe to experiment and explore with concepts and ideas without feeling constrained by ticket sales, audience review or by failure,” said Production Manager Eric Steggall. “As part of the application process, the applicant specifies what they need from us and if it requires no audience attendance, if they simply need a room to rehearse in then that is what we provide.”

There are about two more weeks before applications are due on Nov. 21.

“We encourage everyone interested to apply, and since this is the first year of running, ask that you also be patient. We have to work around the Season of the Department to release facilities. We hope things will run smoothly, and are open to surprises,” Hunter said.

More information and guidelines for applying can be found at http://theatredance.ucdavis.edu/events/itdp.aspx.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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