March 2012

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March 2012


The Power of Partnerships

James Thurston

Festival participants work with faculty facilitators to modify a sound score for their performance scene.

Images\Courtesy James Thurston.

Looking to explore new technologies used in live performance? Do limited resources prevent this kind of exploration? Consider partnerships. Partnerships with other schools, local tech centers, or local businesses are an excellent way to defray costs and build valuable relationships within a larger community.

Recently the Colby College Department of Theater and Dance in Waterville, Maine, collaborated with theatre and dance departments at Bates and Bowdoin colleges on a Mellon Foundation Collaborative Faculty Enhancement Grant to pursue a project titled, "Live Performance and Digital Media: Expanding Creative and Pedagogical Opportunities." Project leaders Roger Bechtel (Bowdoin), Rachel Boggia (Bates), and Jim Thurston (Colby) used grant funds to bring together students, staff, and faculty from all three schools for master classes, group discussion, and a final performance festival incorporating digital media.

The grant included master classes with Troika Ranch choreographer/media artist Dawn Stoppiello and composer/media artist Mark Coniglio. Andrew Schneider (The Wooster Group/Media Artist) and Reid Farrington (The Wooster Group/Media Artist) offered additional master classes on specialized uses of software and hardware in live performance. Mr. Congilio's Isadora software was the primary software used in the grant, and over 25 participants collaborated on the grant between fall 2010 and fall 2011.

A number of powerful outcomes emerged from the partnership process, including an enhanced use of digital performance media in classes and in production at all three schools. Equally important are the ongoing collaborations between staff and faculty focusing on opportunities for students, professional endeavors, and future partnerships.

These partnerships are a win-win scenario as long as goals and objectives are clear and schedules and funds are well managed.

Where to start? Talk to a department chair and make contact with the grant office. At the same time, a visit to local relevant businesses or local government can provide a powerful start.

Media Artist Andrew Schneider leads a master class on advanced programming using Mark Coniglio's Isadora software.