Texas Tech University

How Fortunate We Are

Mark Charney

May 5, 2022

Mark Charney

As we end the spring semester, the School of Dance at Texas Tech is cognizant of just how fortunate we are. After finishing our season with Frontier Fest, featuring original plays and choreography, we are proud to have (safely) shared our new theatre spaces this year with audiences who care deeply about supporting the arts. With a new Dean coming to lead our College this July, one whose vision remains committed to community service and arts advocacy, we remain hopeful that we can continue the trajectory we established before the pandemic, especially international partnerships that we are confident enrich our education.

We hope that next year, for example, we can take students for the second time to Bilkent University in Turkey for a mask workshop in both Ankara and Ephesus; strengthen a new partnership with the doctorate program in Sibiu, Romania with Lucian Blaga University; and potentially establish a presence at the Texas Tech Seville campus. We are looking to revive our Arts in Prague program as well next summer, and, of course, will continue taking students to the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, to dance and theatre festivals, and to conferences that better education and experience.

So, in this, my final column of the year, I'd like officially to thank the university for its massive support, exemplified by the construction that will be completed to our new theatre and dance complex in December of this year. With a remodeled proscenium stage, new shops (including moving the Costume Shop back to our complex), and the Dean's suite on the second floor, we will have an arts corridor on 18th Street for the first time in the history of our College.

In a time when other universities struggle to retain their arts programs, ours is thriving. This has much to do with a President and Provost who understand the importance of arts education, and colleagues in the Schools of Music and Art who are always ready to collaborate, to share strategies, and to support one another as we grow. Our Schools are always cooperative, not competitive, and this allows for much potential collaboration.

Seeing the new Theatre & Dance Complex teeming with students has been the greatest joy of the year; their enthusiasm is infectious, always reminding us that we are here to educate. We recognize that, while the world around us continues to change, so must our knowledge base. This has been a year where we furthered our commitment to shared governance and transparency, where our Anti-Racism Working Group has helped us better our environment, and where our students led the charge for change and transformation. Communication is paramount. And we have done our best to further the means in which we listen to one another and respond carefully to the needs of those around us.

I am in awe of my colleagues, who have worked diligently and creatively to make certain we serve our students and our community. Our faculty and staff put in long hours based on their love of theatre and dance, while also examining strategies to assure sustainability. At a recent retreat, we planned the year ahead—the hires we will make, the season we will produce, and the partnerships we will strengthen. It's a daunting year, but exciting.

This summer will see our WildWind Performance Lab, now in its ninth season and possibly the sixth year of the Marfa Intensive, led by playwright Richard Maxwell and performer Modesto “Flako” Jimenez, keeping our students working alongside professionals active in field. And our faculty and staff will be working on a Self-Study for re accrediting both our theatre and dance programs, a gargantuan task, one that will truly allow us to examine where we are and where we need to be.  

We are preparing for next season, which includes a new musical, Fly By Night; A New Canon Reading Series featuring both The Book Club Play by Karen Zacarias and Black Top Sky by Christina Anderson; As You Like It; The Secretaries; the Fall Dance Festival and DanceTech; Frontier Fest; and ending with Sweet Charity, which will see us return to the remodeled Maedgen Theatre. If all goes according to plan, we will host a huge alum reunion to celebrate the completion of the Theatre and Dance complex, sharing with you our new digs!

As 2021-22 comes to an academic close, we are optimistic, more dedicated than ever, and more cognizant of all that we need to learn to continue to grow in the right ways. Because we will always think of Lubbock as our campus, we remain thankful to you, our audiences, patrons and supporters, for helping us to keep the arts alive here in West Texas.