Word from our students, on campus and off…

Posted on July 7th, 2009 by

I spent the summer of 2008 as a Press and Marketing intern at the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina. It was the most incredible experience being surrounded by the greatest dance in the nation for the entire summer. My duties as an intern included assisting in all aspects of the press and marketing office including editing and mailing press releases, sending public service announcements, organizing photo calls, maintaining the press board and collecting all news articles, and serving as press representation at performances. I also assisted in the organization of the NEA Institute for Dance Criticism. Aside from the work I did in the office, I was also able to take class every day from some of the best teachers in the country alongside other college dancers as well as professional dancers. I was also able to attend dance concerts almost every night; by the end of the summer I had seen 36 different dance companies perform! One of the perks of being the press intern was that I was able to meet many of the choreographers and artistic directors from these companies when I accompanied them to interviews with critics. ADF also offered intern seminars on arts administration where I was able to meet and talk with Professionals in different types of organizations. I learned a lot about the administrative world of performing arts through this intership and am excited to continue on this path after graduation!  Emily Bulling (’09, Dance, English)

Performing “Shiny Things for the Mind” at the American College Dance Festival at the University of Minnesota’s Rarig Center in March was an amazing performance opportunity. While dancing at the adjudication concert, the audience cheered and applauded, this bestowed in me an indescribable feeling I will never forget. This performance was one of the best times I have had on stage. After our performance, many students came up to our cast and thanked us for the funny and unique message “Shiny Things” presented. Another highlight was hearing the adjudicator say, “Thank goodness for this dance!” Being chosen to perform in the Gala concert, not to mention close the entire concert, gave our cast a great feeling of accomplishment.  Mariah McGill (’10, Nursing)

While a senior at Gustavus, I had the opportunity to work with Charlotte Adams, a guest choreographer from the University of Iowa. Charlotte set her piece “Alpaca Dreams” on a group of us over Fall Break. Although rehearsals were long and tedious at times, the entire experience was very positive and a wonderful learning opportunity. After the week we spent learning the choreography, we rehearsed for an hour every week. During Tech Week for the Gustavus Dance Concert this year, Charlotte came back to Gustavus to see how much we had done and to make final adjustments. Overall, the lengthy process allowed the cast to grow closer as a group, and when it came time to perform, I think we were rock solid.  Ryan Mather (’09, Sociology and Anthropology, Dance)

As a pure-bred Gustie, I visited campus with my alumni parents many times throughout my childhood. One of my favorite parts about the campus when I began to visit as a prospecive student was seeing the theatre; no other school on my list could rival Anderson Theatre. I spent the hour-long car ride home listening to all the stories my dad had to tell about all the time he spent on Anderson, performing The Man of La Mancha, The Robber Bridegroom, and his senior voice recital, and after a while, I began to see myself performing on the same stage someday. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to have the opportunity so soon. I was thrilled and honored to be cast as Richie in Topsy Turvy Mouse in the fall, my first semester at Gustavus. It was an incredible feeling to perform on the Anderson stage opening night as my Dad watched from the audience. We had the opportunity to share this moment again this spring with The Impresario From Smyrna when I played the role of Pasqualino.  Ben Batz (’12, Undecided)

I didn’t tell my mother I was shaving my head. For my role as The Professor in Eugene Lonesco’s absurdist masterpiece The Lesson, director Henry MacCarthy asked me and my two co-stars to go bald–an experience that was mostly fun, but occasionally…not (ask me about the razor burn!) When people ask me what I did this fall, I have a hard time giving a satisfactory answer. I stuttered and screamed through reams of nonsensical lines laced with heavy emotion. I often forgot to breathe. I dumped five gallons of fake blood from the ceiling on my co-star’s head. Our rendition of The Lesson was what a good Minnesotan would call “different.” It was shocking, upsetting, frightening, and incredibly powerful. Anyways, my mother was surprised.  Bethany Ringdal (’10, Religion)

Shadow puppetry is an ancient unique art form and learning it from guest artist Anne Sawyer-Aitch was a fabulous J-term experience. Not only is Anne an artist, she is also a stilt walker, and I had the privilege of learning both of these skills from her over this year’s J-term. I have always been very interested in art and design so the shadow puppetry class was right up my alley. I thought that the class would consist of cutting out large black shapes and shining lights on them, thus creating a “shadow puppet”. Little did I know that I was in for a lot more; shadow puppets are intricate and colorful and have been around for centuries. I had no idea that I was going to not only learn how to make the puppets but also their entire history. Each day we would start off discussing our reading; talking about how shadow puppets are different around the world. Then we would start the rigorous task of making all of the puppets for the show The Other Shore. All of the puppets were inspired by Chinese shadow puppets so they were extremely intricate. We would spend hours coloring, and cutting out details with an exacto knife. It was painstaking hard work, but the outcome was beautiful.  Lydia Francis (’11, Theatre)

Did you know that Elmo’s fur gets combed with a fork? Last summer I had the distinct pleasure of working in the unique Costumes & Creatures Department at VEE Corporation in Minneapolis. For those of you who don’t know, VEE is the company who mounts Sesame Street Live! every summer, and sends those shows on the road. They are also responsible for the My Little Pony touring show, and have done pieces for the Veggie Tales show, as well as a some more grown-up performances like the Cirq de Soleil’s LOVE, and the 1993 Superbowl halftime show (that one was all them, whew!). At VEE, I’ve had a great experience gaining incredibly unusual skills, and even got to model a Larry the Cucumber costume! I’ll be returning to VEE this summer to play with Elmo and his friends!  Kristen Weller (’10, Theatre)

I was very excited to be able to attend this year’s national United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. As this was my first conference, I had no idea what to expect but I could not wait to go and learn new things. The amount of information, obtained at the USITT conference, along with the variety of sessions to attend, gave me the opportunity to learn about different aspects of technical theatre I had not known much about prior to this conference. The session entitled “Tricks of the Stage; Stage Magic” was full of lots of information and demonstrations that answered many questions about stage magic. Such as, how to plan different effects, creating those effects within a production and how to work with the actors to create a flawless stage trick. I enjoyed learning from professionals from across the country, who could provide information on such a grand scale. Overall, I was totally amazed and overwhelmed by my experience at this conference. Everything from attending a number of exciting and informative sesions to meeting people from numerous companies, made this trip more memorable. I am very glad I had the opportunity to attend this year’s conference and I hope to go again in the future.  Erin Belpedio (’11, Theatre)


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