Speakers focused on the transformative power of collaboration in the arts
The 2018 convocation for the Department of Dance, School of Music, Department of Theatre and Media Arts and the Music Dance Theatre Program took place on April 27. Here are some of the highlights of the event.
The convocation took place at 11 a.m. in the de Jong concert hall and was conducted by Ed Adams, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications. Craig Hart, the Associate Academic Vice President, served as the university representative.
Mary Hoskins performed a stunning vocal rendition of “O Divine Redeemer” by Charles Gounod. She was accompanied by Christi Leman on piano.
Tessa Homer, a dance education major, spoke about the different seasons of our lives. She began by saying she wished she could “just dance the speech” before discussing how her experiences at BYU transformed her as a dancer and as an individual.
Homer had the opportunity to study and teach dance outside the United States. The first time, she attended a study abroad in China where combining two cultural traditions took her dancing to a place she could not have taken it to by herself. Homer then traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, with Kinnect, a contemporary dance student outreach program. Homer taught dance to elementary school students and said she didn’t need a common language as she could see the same joy on the faces of the children in Copenhagen as she did in Utah and that “No audience will make you feel more talented than elementary students.”
The last transformative experience Homer spoke on was her senior project, which involved choreographing and teaching dances to less experienced dancers. She expressed how she initially felt limited by their beginner abilities, but soon realized the experience was not about how well she could teach, but about the individuals she taught and being able to see possibilities in things she cannot control.
Homer finished her speech by returning to her theme of seasons, taken from Ecclesiastes 3:1, saying there is a time and a season for everything. She added her own saying her time at BYU was a “time to prepare, a time to explore and a time to transform.”
Soren Barker, a theatre education major, spoke on how theatre can create change in the world. He listed three different ways he believes theatre can make an impact, using examples from his education.
The first way theatre can change the world is through collaboration. Barker shared an experience he had writing and directing a new play. At one point, the actors he was working with suggested a major change in the script, which Barker chose to accept.. The change made the show much more impactful.
Barker talked about another experience he had creating a piece of theatre with his friend Ben Featherstone, who is deaf. Barker believes the production emphasized the importance of being inclusive and gave him experience in a world he would have not understood otherwise. “Listening to others and including them in the process,” he said, is what collaboration is all about.
Responsibility is the second way Barker believes theatre can create change. “The best people inside and outside of the theater are the most responsible,” Barker said after discussing an experience with a microburst theatre production that required diligence from the actors.
Empathy is the last attribute Barker suggested can change the world. While co-directing a production at Hillcrest High School, Barker noticed how the students made emotional bonds with their characters and were able to see the world from a different perspective. Audiences are also able to experience the emotional journey of another person.
“If the world had more empathy and collaboration,” Barker concluded, “it would be more beautiful.”
A group of students graduating from the Music Theatre Dance Program followed the speakers. The group performed “Ready” by Joey Contreras, accompanied by Mark Johnson.
The ceremony ended with the presentation of the graduates.