On Nov. 29, Space/Place will come to life with the University of Iowa’s Collaborative Performance, featuring the Dance and Theater Departments and the School of Music. The Collaborative Performance will continue on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, with shows at 8 p.m. Admission is free.
The Collaborative Performance, this year titled “The General Idea,” is the culmination of a graduate-level class involving dance, theater, and music students. There are five students in the class, all lead artists in the show; three are dance choreographers, one is a theater designer, and one is a composer.
The class instructor, Adjunct Assistant Professor of dance Alex Bush, said the students spent the semester learning about collaborative-art practices and how to work together effectively.
“After this class, they can take the practices that they’ve built together, and the things that they’ve learned, and take them into future projects that they may do with other collaborators down the road,” Bush said.
She was more of an adviser for the class, she said, and facilitated the production but did not help put it together. The students were in charge.
“[The students] opted to work together in distributing the work and the leadership equally among themselves. I am really more of a facilitator,” she said. “I give them prompts, things for them to think about, but it really is all about what they want to work on together and what they want to create together.”
Bush said the class size aided the collaboration.
“Because we’re a smaller, more intimate group, they’ve been able to really work together in this very democratic, equal way,” she said. “Everybody’s voice is heard, and that’s really exciting.”
Choreographer Eduard Forehand said he appreciates the variety of aspects in the production.
“The class is built in as a collaboration because it invites others, not just Dance Department students,” he said. “In this class, albeit it’s very small, we have three different professions. Everyone comes at a performance in a very specific way from their histories and backgrounds, so we all have to make room for that, and work with that, and play nicely.”
He said the different aspects of production contribute to his learning in the class.
“Usually, you’re collaborating with your dancers, you’re collaborating with your musicians, but that’s been the extent of my experience as far as collaborations,” he said. “This is a whole different realm. The class itself has been teaching us about how to expect unexpected, how to play in chaos, and how to just be responsive to others’ needs and how you can make it all some sort of cohesive ending final product.”
Forehand said Collaborative Performance opened his eyes to so many more details and possibilities of one production.
“Here, I’ve had to think about such a broader range of things,” he said. “Behind the scenes and what’s happening on the stage at that moment, I have to be aware of everything that’s going on. That’s definitely a new way of working for me.”
The development of the show lasted the entire semester, he said.
“We would be split up in different groups throughout the semester, and [Bush] would ask us to choreograph or come up with different prompts,” he said. “The two groups would go off, do something on their own, and come back and talk about it, reflect on it, show it. But we had no idea that most of these little things would be brought into this final-exam performance.
He said that he might have done things differently if he had known, but he appreciates this way of developing a show.
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