Guest Artists Bring a Different Perspective to Dance Department

Posted: October 28, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Colleen Kearney Rich

With everyone using terms like “chapters,” “phrases” and “composition,” someone walking into the Dance Performance Studio on Wednesday might have thought they stepped into a writing workshop – at least right up to the part where the instructor rolled across the floor.

Choreographer Sarah Skaggs has been on campus for the last two weeks as a guest faculty member in the Dance Department. On this particular day, she was conducting a workshop on experiential improvisation.

Skaggs directs Sarah Skaggs Dance, a company in New York City that combines dance and multimedia to broaden the audience for modern dance. Skaggs’ visit is part of a new program to expand opportunities for Mason dancers to interact with well-known dance professionals. In addition to Skaggs, three other visiting artists are working with Mason dancers this semester: Marina Walchli from Ohio University, Alberto del Saz from the Nikolais Louis Foundation and Cedric Andrieux from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Sarah Skaggs in dance class
Choreographer Sarah Skaggs has been a guest faculty member in the Dance Department for the past two weeks.
Photo by Colleen Kearney Rich

Each visiting artist stays for two to three weeks and has the opportunity to interact with all dance majors. In addition to teaching in advanced technique classes, the guest artists work with students in classes such as composition, improvisation, dance history and intermediate modern dance. The artists also conduct repertory class and offer feedback to student choreographers.

“I definitely get a lot out of these visits,” says Allie Linn, a first-year dance major. “From each artist we’ve gotten very different feedback. It brings a whole different perspective to the class.”

The Dance Department plans to continue the program in the spring semester.

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