It feels rare to celebrate past accomplishments and to honor those whose shoulders we stand on, so it was wonderful to be able to do just that by celebrating former Head of Dance: Diana Moore. Diana Moore spent thirty years inspiring students as well as colleagues in the dance program and across campus from 1971 – 2001; to hear and see up close the impact that her teaching had on students who went through the dance and music programs during that period of time was inspiring. Her drive, compassion and passion were evident, reminding us what we should all strive for as educators and leaders. Students traveled from afar to be able to celebrate her accomplishments and to share what their time with her had meant to them creatively, professionally and personally. Diana embodied the understanding of the awesome responsibility that teaching carries and, from the stories shared, responded to each student individually, making them feel seen and valued.
Our students performed the prologue from Doctor Love, choreographed by Kyla Olson and directed by Jonathan Marks. Dance alumni performed a structured improvisation under the direction of Luke Kahlich, and our current dance faculty performed our own tribute to Diana. It was wonderful to give back to her by communicating through the medium that we are all committed to – dance!
Thanks to Luke Kahlich for being the generous and thoughtful instigator of this celebration, to our technical staff for executing the celebration effortlessly, to Seth Warren-Crow and Casey Keenan Joiner for accompanying the performance beautifully, and to Robin Phillips, Michela Heth and Cory Norman for creating an efficient infrastructure for the event.
On the same day that we were celebrating the Creative Movement Studio and this new addition of the Diana Moore Dance Lobby, it was wonderful also to celebrate the new Maedgen building. Building up to this, this past week I asked my Choreography I students each to create a one minute "site-specific" study in the new building, addressing a space of their choosing in a meaningful way, by having an awareness of the floor, walls, ceiling, light, sounds, privacy or lack thereof. They generated interesting work; to have this new building be a canvas as well as a source of inspiration for the development of new work by our students was exciting. October 4th also marked a day of celebration of the career of the brilliant Jonathan Marks.
I want to end this On Pointe issue with some words from Kyla Olson who worked with Jonathan on Doctor Love:
A few years ago, Jonathan mentioned that he was interested in doing Molière's Doctor Love with me as a collaborator. He was interested in making something completely different that what we normally produce in our regular season, combining theatre, music, and dance. When we finally began working on this show, he had great ideas about how to create the scenes and interludes, but was completely open to having me work in my own way with my own interpretations of those scenes/interludes. He asked thoughtful questions during the creative process, and really allowed everyone to play. I appreciated his willingness to experiment, and to allow the actors to explore their characters through movement and song. Dr. Marks has an extensive and impressive resume, and it was inspiring to work alongside someone who has impacted the professional theatre world in so many ways.