Displaying items by tag: Online Learning

By Kerri Hopkins

Even a global pandemic cannot stop the arts from reaching across divides.

When schools closed down in mid-March, we had to find a way to continue to connect with local youth through the arts. University of Utah ArtsBridge projects typically happen within schools, working directly with kids and classroom teachers. Following suit with other educators who took their classes online, we began filming instructional art videos for the new ArtsBridge Art Challenge.

Knowing that kids may not have many art materials at home, our activities use the simplest of materials; paper, pencils, and random found objects. Often at ArtsBridge, we work to support other academic subject. But for our online initiative, we simplified. Our goal was clear: provide an opportunity for creative expression and allow students to have some fun. To create further connection, our activities were appropriate across grade levels so they could be completed by different aged siblings in the same household.  

Four ArtsBridge scholars pretty flawlessly stepped into the role of remote educators to bring 20 (and counting!) free art lessons to any student who can access the internet.  

When our group was featured in a conversation on KRCL’s RadioActive back in April, the students had the chance to talk about their experience.  Here’s what they had to say:   

“This project has challenged me as an educator, as I thrive on face-to-face interaction with participants. I’ve developed skills such as designing resourceful lesson plans that can be done at home, recording lectures, and being creative with technology. I have also become more innovative and adaptable, which is vital in both art and education. Overall, this project has provided an opportunity for both young participants and educators to develop their creativity.” AB ArtChallenge
-Sydney Williams, Art Teaching BFA graduate 2020  

“Making art videos like these seems like it might be how we reach our students in the future. I hope that this doesn't become a permanent teaching tool because there is a beauty in communicating and using art as a relationship builder. However, learning how to operate this way and getting familiar with being in front of a camera can be a great tool for the future.”   
-Tiara Cook, Art Teaching BFA alum, current graduate student in the College of Education

“I would do more stuff like this. It’s helped me to brush up on my skills with video editing and animation, which is the kind of work I want to do anyways. And it’s fun!" 
-LeAnne Hodges, Film & Media Arts-Animation BA graduate 2020

“It is a lot of fun!  It makes me think about teaching a lot differently and making sure things are clear because these are lasting resources and the students are not right there to ask me questions if they’re confused. So, it makes me think about teaching and lesson planning differently. I think the whole world is learning skills about working remotely that I think we’re going to carry with us forever.”  
-Laurie Larson, Film & Media Arts-Animation major, Sculpture minor


As we continue to create and promote online lessons, the digital divide in our community is always forefront in our minds. Since many students we would normally serve may not have access to videos, we have other plans underway. University Neighborhood Partners is currently reimagining their west side Partners in the Park program and we are planning to create art activity kits that can be distributed at socially distanced events in June and July. We’re also working with other summer partners like the PATHS program to provide arts in a new way this year. 

 As we look ahead to next school year, we’re ready to continue to adapt and find ways to bring the joy of the arts to kids. After all, we believe in the arts -- in good times, and especially in the face of new challenges.

Author Kerri Hopkins is the Director of ArtsBridge at the University of Utah.

Published in Finer Points Blog

Music is known for bringing people together, in unprecedented times like these it’s important to remember what bonds us.

Which is why the University of Utah School of Music is celebrating the end of the year with the first of its kind, virtual Student Showcase—celebrating the class of 2020 as well as connecting with our music community. 

At the School of Music, students are constantly practicing and performing in ensembles. But this year those performance opportunities were cut short. The 2020 Student Showcase is an effort to highlight their hard work and celebrate their achievements. Each area will feature pieces reviewed and selected by faculty, for one night of home, yet high quality student performances. 

music showcase

Join the Facebook Watch party! 
Saturday, May 2 at 5 p.m. 

(If you can't make it, the video of the performance will be uploaded on School of Music’s YouTube page.) 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020! 

Your journey to this moment was herculean even before the pandemic, and that you made it to the finish line in spite of this life-changing reality makes you our heroes.
So, don your capes, turn up your volume, and enjoy this special graduation address from Dean John W. Scheib.  

Below it, you’ll find even more to celebrate, including a list of our students who are graduating with honors degrees, acknowledgement of our retiring and emeritus faculty members, and announcement of our esteemed Faculty and Staff Excellence Award recipients and a University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award.

To each and every one of you: thank you for all you bring to the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. And congratulations to our graduates!

Honors degrees 

The Honors College is celebrating another record-breaking academic year in terms of number of students graduating with an Honors Bachelor degree. Below are the College of Fine Arts students receiving honors degrees who contributed to the overall success:

Abigail Bowe

Department of Film & Media Arts
Tehua Clark

Department of Film & Media Arts
Morgan Cox

Department of Film & Media Arts, Entertainment Arts & Engineering 
Tony Elison
School of Music
Roxanne Fitzwilliam

Department of Film & Media Arts 

Erin Jackson
Department of Art & Art History
Sydney Porter Williams
Department of Art & Art History
Severin Sargent-Catterton
School of Dance
Michal Tvrdik
School of Music
Bryce Wallace

Department of Film & Media Arts, Entertainment Arts & Engineering 

Retiring and Emeritus Faculty

Ellen Bromberg
School of Dance

Distinguished Professor Ellen Bromberg is a choreographer, filmmaker, mediadesigner, curator and educator. A former dancer and choreographer with Utah’s Repertory Dance Theater, she has received numerous awards for her work including a Guggenheim Fellowship, three Bay Area Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, a Bonnie Bird American Choreographer Award, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the George Soros Foundation, among others. She has also been honored with a Pew National Dance/Media Fellowship, a UC Berkeley Townsend Humanities Fellowship, and two UC Davis Granada Artist-in-Residence Awards. Ellen’s screen works havebeen presented on public television stations, online channels, and at numerous national and international dance film festivals including Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Festival,Cinedans Amsterdam, VideoDanza, Buenos Aires, and Dance Camera West, Los Angeles, to name a few. Recent work focuses on the integration of media in performance and she has designed video for stage and installations in her own work and in collaboration with other choreographers including Della Davidson, Zvi Gotheiner, Pat Graney, Deborah Hay, Stephen Koester, Victoria Marks, Douglas Rosenberg, Doug Varone among others. Ellen is a recipient of a 2012 Distinguished Innovation and Impact Award and is the founding director of the Universityof Utah International Screendance Festival, which began in 1999. Ellen has also designed the first Graduate Certificate in Screendance, in collaboration with the Department of Film & Media Arts, which is now in its seventh year.

Kathy Pope
School of Music 

Professor Kathy Pope has been active musically in the Salt Lake area for many years as a teacher, clinician, adjudicator, and performer. Professor Pope was the Principal Clarinetist for Ballet West and also performed frequently with the Utah Symphony. She has played with the Opus Chamber Orchestra, Utah Chamber Artists, and has been a soloist with the Salt Lake Symphony. She is the National Clarinet Repertoire Consultant for the Music Teachers National Association. Her compact disc recordings, "From Bach to Gershwin," "Clarinet Kaleidoscope," and "A French Soirée" have all received critical acclaim. The American Record Guide cited her most recent CD, "A French Soirée," as “absolute perfection” and The Clarinet said, “this recording is very worthy of anyclarinetist’s library.” Ms. Pope has been very active in the International Clarinet Association including soloing at theconventions in Stockholm, Salt Lake City and Washington D.C. She was the conference coordinator for the 2003 Clarinet Association convention at the University of Utah. She has served as coordinator for the Orchestral Audition and High School Competitions, and is the Utah State Chair. Ms. Pope is an artist-clinician for both Buffet Crampon USA and Rico International.

Steve Roens

School of Music 

Dr. Steve Roens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from Swarthmore College, a Master of Fine Arts degree in music theory and composition from Brandeis University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from Columbia University. He studied composition with Seymour Shifrin, Martin Boykan, Arthur Berger, Chou Wen-Chung, Jack Beeson, and Mario Davidovsky. He is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Composers' Conference, and a former visiting assistant professor at Wellesley College. Roens's writing is freely atonal, rhythmically fluid, and spare. It has been called by one critic, neo-Webernian. Primarily for chamber groups of varying sizes and soloists, pieces have been commissioned by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, the Nova Chamber Music Series, the Intermezzo Chamber Music Series, and pianists Jason Hardink, and Rebecca La Brecque. His music is published by the Association for the Promotion of New Music and is available on the Centaur label. As a teacher of composition, while his background and practice are informed by the literature of atonal music, Roens’s approach to teaching helps students find their own voices and originality in whatever direction their stylistic predilections evolve. In addition to teaching music theory andcomposition, during his 30 year career at the University of Utah Dr. Roens took on a variety of administrative positions, serving at different times as Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts, as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, as Director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, and as Head of the School of Music Composition Area. Roens enjoyed dividing his time between teaching and his administrative duties and believes that these differenta ctivities can support each other in a variety of ways.He is also an avid photographer, amateur astronomer, and hiker.


CFA Faculty Excellence Awards 2020

Faculty Excellence in Research 

Jane Hatter
School of Music 

"Since her research transcends the field of Music and crosses over into Art and Culture, Dr. Hatter has an excellent record of engagement with scholars in the field of musicology as well as scholars in other research areas of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. In 2019 she presented her work at the Medieval-Renaissance Music Conference in Switzerland, the 25th Annual Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Medieval Association of the Pacific Joint Conference, and at an International Symposium at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.  In past years she also presented at conferences that are more broadly aimed at medieval and renaissance scholars, such as the conference of the Renaissance Society of America (in 2017 and 2018), and at the Medieval Association of the Pacific 50th Annual Conference (2016). She also has presented her work at important musicology conferences, such as the North American British Musical Studies Association (2018), and the Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society (2018), which is the most prestigious U.S. annual meeting for musicologists."
- Faculty nominator 

Faculty Excellence in Teaching 

Carol Sogard 
Department of Art & Art History 

"Professor Sogard offers students a space to explore design in ways that they’ve yet been able to imagine, and helps them find the independence they need to become confident designers...Carol makes a point to teach her students that their work has an impact on the world around them. Her approach in the classroom is focused on connection and community building, and she makes a point to educate her students about important issues in or society, while also giving us the tools that allow us to use our design practice to create discussion and positive change. Her passion for sustainable design has been inspiring, and her efforts have helped my classmates and myself educate not only ourselves, but those around us."
Graphic Design student nominator 

Staff Excellence Award 

Penny Caywood
Artistic Director, University of Utah Youth Theatre 
Department of Theatre 

"Penny Caywood's years of service to the College of Fine Arts via her leadership of Youth Theatre at the U has inspired thousands of young people and families via the unique and robust educational programming and performance opportunities she directs year-round. Mrs. Caywood’s positive energy, genuine approach to teaching and directing K-16 as well as her ability to adapt theatre teaching core content to meet the needs of diverse learners and students is truly remarkable. Her ability to sustain and create new community engaged partnerships across the college, campus, and state is impressive. She is an amazing asset to the college for providing high quality arts experiences for young people, which in turn creates a direct recruiting pipeline for the college and university as a whole."
- Nominator 

University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award 

Beth Krensky 
Department of Art & Art History 

"Dr. Krensky has shown deep, enduring commitment to the development and implementation of cutting edge arts education curricula that pushes our arts teaching students to think inclusively and globally in an effort to forward the field of arts education. Presently, the community-based arts education research she is conducting is providing opportunities for select undergraduate and graduate students to experience the simultaneous ability to empower communities through art-making collaboration and partnership. These student researchers, through Dr. Krensky’s mentorship, are making important contributions to the field as they investigate global issues via art education, art-making, and community engagement. Dr. Krensky’s classes empower our arts teaching students to work authentically alongside young people and to utilize the community’s experiences as the inspiration for the creative work."
- Nominator 

Make sure you check out all our other Convocation 2020 virtual content:

Videos from our student convocation speakers, Jae Weit and Sydney May here
 CFA's Outstanding Seniors and Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher
 Don't miss out on an opportunity to share your memories, photos, and thank you's at our online message board!
We'll be cheering for you. Stay connected at @uofucfaalumni! 

Published in Finer Points Blog

As we celebrate the Class of 2020 during this convocation week, faculty members across the five academic units of the College of Fine Arts send their congratulations, encouragement and appreciation to this year's graduates. 

Here are just a few of our favorite video messages for the Class of 2020. 

From Beth Krensky
Professor, Department of Art & Art History 


 From Kelby McIntyre-Martinez
Assistant Dean for Arts Education & Community Engagement


 From Stacey Jenson 
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre 


 From Robert Baldwin
Professor, School of Music 

From Connie Wilkerson 
Associate Professor, Department of Film & Media Arts 


From Pablo Piantino
Assistant Professor, School of Dance 

To see all our faculty videos for the Class of 2020, visit our social media channels here: 

College of Fine Arts Facebook 
College of Fine Arts Instagram 
College of Fine Arts Twitter 

And don't forget you can leave messages for our grads all this week at our Live Message Board! 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Edward Bateman 

This is a guest post by Edward Bateman, artist and Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Utah, and head of the Photography and Digital Imaging area.

Artists have always used the power of their work to rise the challenges of their times. Together with my Advanced Digital Imaging students, we doing something very different for the end of our semester… a creative response to our current pandemic situation. We are basing our group project on a work of classical Italian literature: "The Decameron" by Boccaccio that aptly reflects our circumstances: 

In Italy during the time of the Black Death (March 1348), a group of seven young women and three young men flee from plague-ridden Florence to shelter in a deserted villa in the countryside. To pass the evenings, each member of the group tells a story each night, resulting in ten nights of storytelling. Thus, by the end they have told 100 stories. Each of the ten characters is charged as King or Queen of the company for one of the ten days in turn. This charge extends to choosing the theme of the stories for that day.

We have been doing the same thing photographically – telling the stories of this time… and are creating a book to document what it is like to live in this pandemic crisis. Like the storytellers in "The Decameron," we are sharing our art. Twice a week we gather together on Zoom to look at our images, compare experiences, and get our next theme from the one designated as our leader for the next “day.”  

Their willingness to share their trials and also their optimism and creativity has been a genuine source of strength and hope for me at this time. Our book will go beyond this moment to show the complexities, feelings and responses that we as a group, sheltering from the plague, have experienced together.

For our new "Decameron," each student has given us a theme which will be a chapter in the book. Their choices have been remarkably challenging, and given us all much to consider as we go through this time of isolation. Out images have become a place to creatively embody our experiences.

  • Day 1 - At This Time
  • Day 2 - Collectively Disconnected
  • Day 3 - Routinely Interrupted
  • Day 4 - Photographs Not Seen
  • Day 5 - Silver Linings
  • Day 6 - Solace and Inspiration
  • Day 7 - Indoor-Outdoor
  • Day 8 - Collapsing
  • Day 9 - CHAOS! in the supermarket
  • Day 10 - Heroes 

We all have a need to share our stories and feel connected. Art is a way to create meaning, especially in times of uncertainty. Also, we are doing what photographers have always done – produce a lasting record documenting this moment in time. The eight of us (I am included at their invitation) have now completed our images – 80 of them! So along with a personal text from each, it is time to make our book.

I couldn’t be more proud of my students! Both in how they have faced the difficulties of these past weeks, but also in how they have creatively challenged themselves and produced art that far exceeded my expectations! These are my heroes: Will Betts, Sam Devine, Ethan Edwards, Brandi Gilbert, John Moffitt, Claire Palmer, and Heather Pierce. Their willingness to share their trials and also their optimism and creativity has been a genuine source of strength and hope for me at this time. Our book will go beyond this moment to show the complexities, feelings and responses that we as a group, sheltering from the plague, have experienced together.

The gallery below offers a sneak peek into the work of the Advanced Digital Imaging class!
Take a look. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

We are about to graduate a class of brilliant, creative and remarkably resilient students during a global pandemic. This is a first. And it’s not without sincere disappointment and loss. While this moment presents unique challenges, as artists, we are no strangers to creative thinking, and the leadership of the College of Fine Arts is undeterred in our drive to celebrate the momentous achievements of the graduating class of 2020!   

What will make these celebration powerful is if you participate — as students, faculty, family and friends.
We will be rolling out a full week of celebrations starting on 4/27 on our blog, our social media, and via email.  

To our graduating class, if you haven’t already, please send us a photo or video of your favorite moment, people, or place at the U.
Upload your memory to this UBox or send to this email address by Monday, 4/20 to be included in the virtual celebrations.
Click 'Join Folder' on the top menu bar to access the 'Upload' feature.
Please include a brief description of your memory when you upload your file. Descriptions can be added under “File Properties” section on the righthand side of the window once your file is uploaded.

You have been making us proud for years now, and we can’t wait to see how you continue to shine.

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Jessica Boone 

Suspended in chaos and uncertainty, we root to what we know. But what happens when we are studying an art form that depends on shared spaces, experiential learning, and community? We keep dancing.

I have struggled to gather the right words to describe our current situation. The School of Dance’s online classes are in full swing. And just as we settle into a new ‘normal,’ the end is in sight.

I am a first-year graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts in Modern Dance program. It has already been a year of bumpy transitions, but I could never have guessed the school year would end with this upheaval. Dance has grounded me before, and it grounds me now in changing ways.

My professors have been flexible and receptive. They are encouraging, offering ways to challenge us creatively, but with great kindness, they acknowledge the real struggle we are all facing.  There is a mutual understanding and respect in knowing we are all doing our best. We are doing our best to show up for ourselves and each other.

I am deeply grateful for the synchronous physical practices. Yes, that means live dance classes on Zoom in my cleared out living room. Though it will never compare to being in the same place as moving bodies engaged in physical exploration, it is the closest we can get at this point. I am happy to move my body with others, see friendly faces, and have some semblance of normalcy. On a base level, it reminds me that I am not alone.  


I was visiting Austin, Texas, over our spring break when the dangerous reality of the pandemic escalated. After the announcement that our classes were moving online, I decided to stay put. I spent time grieving the loss of my routine and home inside of the Marriott Center for Dance building. I mourned the loss of face-to-face interaction and body-to-body learning.

I was skeptical of continuing my dance studies online. As a graduate student, I had the privilege of listening in on conversations our faculty were having as they reimagined plans for our classes. I was relieved and reassured by their commitment to finding new ways to support and engage students creatively. I sensed their focus on grace and humanity, as they too were navigating the same shocking shift of daily life.

My worries further eased as my professors reached out to discuss class plans moving forward. Each of my classes developed unique methods for meeting and completing course work. I have classes that meet live online at the same scheduled time as they always have. While communication and learning for other courses are all virtual through videos, discussion boards, and submitted writings. Some classwork is structured, with deadlines, other assignments I work on at my own pace.  

I am deeply grateful for the synchronous physical practices. Yes, that means live dance classes on Zoom in my cleared out living room. Though it will never compare to being in the same place as moving bodies engaged in physical exploration, it is the closest we can get at this point. I am happy to move my body with others, see friendly faces, and have some semblance of normalcy. On a base level, it reminds me that I am not alone.  

Still, continuing classes has been hard. Focus and motivation are often stubborn to rally. And though dancing doesn’t always feel good right now, I am trusting the lessons it has taught me in the past. I think the dance community will understand when I saw we have always relied on community – we know we need each other. We know how to adapt and improvise – we are resilient. We know how to listen patiently with our whole selves. We know how to tune into our bodies, how to care of them and the bodies of others.  We know how to use our energy to propel us forward, to soften our joints, to brace for impact and heavy lifting. We know how to relish moments of joy and abandon when they come.  

These are distressing times, but I am hopeful. Though I am relatively new to the University of Utah and am finishing the semester states away, I feel supported by a network of faculty and peers that is rooting for my well-being, my academic success, and the endurance of our broader arts community. 

Author Jessica Boone is a first-year graduate student in the School of Dance Masters in Modern Dance program. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Here are 5 helpful time management tips brought to you by CFA Create Success Interns Abby Davis, Mason Henrie, Matthew Rudolph, and Lia Wong. 

Hello, College of Fine Arts Students!  

As we all make the transition to online classes, here are some helpful tips to help manage your time. 

Create a schedule or agenda.

Whether or not you have used a planner in the past, now is a great time to REALLY use it! This can be useful in seeing you​r important dates and deadlines in an orderly fashion. 

Work on one project at a time. 

If looking at your deadlines all at once is too overwhelming, make a notecard list!  

  • Write each assignment with its deadline on its own notecard, order the notecards by date, and start knocking out each assignment one at a time.  

Start early. 

If you happen to find that you have been sitting on the couch watching Tik Toks or doing whatever else keeps you occupied for hours at home, it sounds like it’s a good time to get a jump on some homework!

Getting a head start on assignments when you have some free time will save you lots of stress in the long run. Trust me!  


This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s one tip that should not be forgotten. A fresh mind always helps with creativity! 

Remember: This is a time where we can use our innovative minds to find the things that work best for us. Stay positive and never stop creating!    

CreateSuccess bubbles wtext1

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Anastasia Briana Drandakis 

What do University of Utah theatre students do in the wake of canceled and postponed performances amidst a call for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic? They brush up on their Shakespeare through video conference calls. 

Self-Isolation Shakespeare is a collaborative, student-led effort to read through Shakespeare’s canon on Zoom three times a week, with an open invitation for the community to watch actors of all levels participate. The talent range includes theatre students, department faculty with impressive resumes, and even professionals working outside of the university that come together to perform these pieces while socially isolating. All the readings are recorded for YouTube and the shows vary between Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies and historical shows to make each genre available to their growing audience. 

Connor Johnson, a junior in the Department of Theatre’s Actor Training Program, was inspired to start Self-Isolation Shakespeare after viewing a similar project that Professor Sarah Shippobotham shared with his class during the early rise in global quarantining. “The Show Must Go Online” created by Robert Myles are weekly readings on Zoom of the complete plays of Shakespeare by a global cast, in the order they were believed to have been written. Johnson thought there was no reason why the students of the University of Utah couldn’t undergo a similar project, and through the support of fellow students and department faculty, he was able to create a social media presence for the performances so that anyone in the theatre community could access the series. 

 “I realized the other thing this could be is a great opportunity for students to act alongside professionals or professors,” said Johnson. “People who students can’t always easily work with just because of the nature of professional productions.”

The professional theatre faculty of the University of Utah has already participated alongside their students in several of the show readings, including Robert Scott Smith who played Prospero in "The Tempest," Alexandra Harbold who played Mark Antony in "Julius Caesar," and Sarah Shippobotham who played Richard III in "Richard III." Johnson has also seen a mix of outside interest in the project, including actors with working credits from local professional theatres, New York, the West End of London, and The Globe Theater. 

“People have said that it was actually great to be able to ‘look over my script last night’ or 'to prepare for this role the other day, because I was thinking about something other than the news.’ They really latched onto the project, and have really given their thought and time and creativity, which has been wonderful to watch.”

While this series helps to bring the University of Utah theatre community closer during this time, it’s also an opportunity for those involved to broaden their familiarity with a genre of classic works that are continuously produced in the modern entertainment industry in various forms.

“There’s something about Shakespeare that is endlessly entertaining and brings endless variety in ways that most other plays don’t,” said Johnson, who believes that knowledge of this material can be generally useful as a theatre student. “Somehow his plays have managed to maintain interest for hundreds of years, and I think in a more pragmatic sense, for any actor that’s going out into the acting world, Shakespeare is a huge percentage of work that you might get. Even if you don’t want to be a classical actor, every regional company does Shakespeare once a season or once every two seasons." 

In addition to practicing classical theatre, this series is also a practice session in performing for digital cameras, microphones, and the general process that it takes to produce a successful piece of live web content. 

“It’s freeing in some ways that you can do things with your voice that you can’t really do on stage,” said Johnson, describing the new acting possibilities he’s observed that performing scenes via Zoom can spark. “It picks up much more subtlety than your allowed to have when you're on stage in a big auditorium. It’s also really fun to see other people doing that, and picking up on that, and it kind of adds this new layer of possibility and creativity.”

Johnson gives credit to an entire team of peers that have volunteered time to shape the current state of the production, including a designated “stage-manager” for the productions (Kiersten Farley), social media managers (Lexie Thomsen and Liam Johnson), and an assistant producer (Jessica Graham). romeo and julietPoster design Lexie Thomsen

Self-Isolation Shakespeare performances are scheduled every Tuesday at 10 a.m. (MST), Thursday at 10 a.m. (MST), and Sunday at noon (MST) through a Zoom conference link posted on the official Facebook page the day of the scheduled production. Show and cast lists are announced a week in advance on the official Facebook page, and anyone can submit to be cast in the Zoom performances by filling out a Google Doc form asking their preferred contact information, acting background, and familiarity with Shakespeare’s works. The recorded performances are archived on the official Self-Isolation Shakespeare YouTube page as the series progresses.

“I think that something this project made me realize is that we’re all kind of in this together,” said Johnson, reflecting on the support that has been felt by the theatre community for the project so far. “People have said that it was actually great to be able to ‘look over my script last night’ or 'to prepare for this role the other day, because I was thinking about something other than the news.’ They really latched onto the project, and have really given their thought and time and creativity, which has been wonderful to watch.”

Published in Finer Points Blog

Hello to my University of Utah friends out there in the world!

I hope this finds you feeling well and safe right now, wherever you may be. I was approached to write a little ditty about my experiences as a faculty member since our communities and our individual lives have all been uprooted and re-shaped by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Though I’ve never written a blog post, I felt inspired to share a bit of my perspective, especially since so many people have been so supportive through the various challenges we’ve all faced. 

To give a little context about me––I’m actually in my first year as a faculty member at the U – and what a year! After spending twenty years as a performing artist and educator in NYC, I earned my master’s degree from the University of Washington in 2014, and then after moving to SLC and working for several years, I was fortunate to join forces with the wonderful folks at the School of Dance at the U.

"But most importantly it has also reinforced some of the fundamental values of dance that nearly all of my students have agreed upon––that humanity needs energetic contact, it needs to act and to move, and that we can take steps to grow and evolve in ways we didn’t think were possible." 

This semester, I have been facilitating a variety of courses in the Modern Program, which currently range from a creatively-based composition course with sophomores, a ballet course with juniors, a modern course with seniors, and finally a teaching methods course with graduate students. I have loved getting to know the amazing faculty and staff as this year has progressed, and the students I’ve worked with, have time and again, impressed, inspired and delighted me. It’s been a truly fantastic year for me. 

The way this pandemic emerged…not with a traumatic, one-day event, but as a slow, steady build of its scope, threw me for a bit of a loop. I think we were all on the verge of beginning our spring breaks, when I really started to comprehend the serious potential of it all. And then of course, as the weeks of mid-and-late March would unfold, it became clear that everything would change. Initially, I remember being very freaked out at the news that we’d be going to online learning. As someone who is passionate about dance and its fundamental values of energy and movement of the body through real time and real space, the thought of having to enter a liminal, third space was daunting. There were so many questions that came up, but there wasn’t much choice that we had to move forward together and make the best of the situation. 

And I’m happy to report that from the first Zoom class I hosted on March 19, things HAVE moved forward! It has been great to have a platform which has for the most part, enabled our class community to come together, not only to practice dance in a new format, asking new things of all of us to make that happen. But most importantly it has also reinforced some of the fundamental values of dance that nearly all of my students have agreed upon––that humanity needs energetic contact, it needs to act and to move, and that we can take steps to grow and evolve in ways we didn’t think were possible. 

What I have loved most about my online conversations with my students is that we want to share and empathize with one another. There has been a very vulnerable and honest tone in the meetings I’ve been privileged to witness. I appreciate the passion I hear in their voices to do the best they can in the face of our current reality.

I do not want to ever have online learning replace the beautiful, profound experience of learning in real time and space––experiences that are REALLY face to face. But for now, I am buoyed by the hope that we will help each other through this and will perhaps learn some lessons to take with us as well. 

Take care, everyone. Sending my best thoughts and energy to each of you… 

Natalie Desch

Published in Finer Points Blog
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