Perry-Mansfield performers share the journey of performance art
Steamboat Springs — Performance art is a process, one that requires the hard work and dedication to persevere throughout the entire journey.
At Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, students and faculty from various departments within the arts have the opportunity to share work without the pressure and watchful eye of critics. Through the summer event series Tuesday Under The Stars, the community has the opportunity to view a snapshot of major productions and have a sneak peek of where each piece is at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“It gives us an opportunity to share and learn and experience a performance without that final production quality, because we don’t need that as artists,” said Emily Tarquin, the director of theater at Perry-Mansfield. “That’s part of the process of it, but not the journey of it.”
While the opening night of a show comes with the anticipation of what will unfold, there is something appealing about the progress of a production not just from the beginning to end but all of the steps that occur in between.
This summer’s final Tuesday Under The Stars show is titled “Perry-Mansfield Artists’ Night.” The night will include works in progress that students and faculty have been rehearsing for weeks. Dance performances from “An Evening of Dance” will be featured in light of the upcoming show that will take place July 25 and 26. In addition, there will be acts from “Failure of A Love Story” taken from the pre-professional intensive theater production that will take place July 18 and 19.
When shared with an audience, there is a vulnerability in showing raw and unfinished work. There’s also an element of excitement.
“There is vitality in those beginning stages of exposing or revealing your ideas,” said Lynda Davis, director of dance at Perry-Mansfield. “There is a certain willingness and confidence to showing raw work and putting yourself out there. The minute you put something on the table, that’s an invitation for conversation, and that’s how you grow.”
Set in a relaxed atmosphere of conversation, audience members, students and even faculty have the ability to interact with a production in a way that usually wouldn’t happen throughout the scheduled process of theater or dance rehearsals.
“It’s important as artists to have safe spaces to share work and receive feedback as you’re creating it because it influences you,” Tarquin said. “The Tuesday performance gives us an opportunity to share each work where it’s at and have people respond to it, and that helps us as we are building the finished product.”
For the dance portion of the production, students started rehearsal June 13, when they arrived at the campus. The theater production started the rehearsal process June 29, and performers will have about three weeks to memorize lines, learn blocking and put the show together.
The goal for each of the Tuesday Under The Stars performances has been to maintain a balance among all the departments.
“We are very interested in each other’s work here,” Davis said. “We are constantly trying to find ways to involve each other even in the classwork.”
With each Tuesday Under the Stars performance, students and faculty have found parallels and ways to connect the departments in ways that haven’t been conceived before.
In a constantly changing world, it is vital to have a wide variety of skills and experiences. At Perry-Mansfield, students have the freedom to explore the arts through its multitude of fields.
“The main thing for me is fostering the students’ unique voices and help giving them the platforms to become a creator versus just a performer,” Tarquin said. “There is a need for performers to be very diverse in their skill set. If you can sing and dance and act and write and whatever else, you will be much more valuable in your career and making art happen than if you are isolated to just one of those.”
Integrating each department gives way to new forms of expression and thinking to find new methods of creativity. When shared with the community, there is even more opportunity for feedback to enhance the journey of production.
“Theater and dance are shared experiences, and we aim to share them with the Steamboat community,” Tarquin said. “Really, I think the more our work out here is shared, the more fulfilling the programs will be.”
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