Jordan College of Arts students to present collaborative performance

JCA students are preparing for their annual collaborative projects being showcased on April 3. Photo courtesy of the Butler University website. 


On April 3, the Jordan College of the Arts will showcase the recipients of their collaborative performance grant at the Schrott Center for the Arts. The annual grants promote collaboration across the three disciplines in the college: music, dance and theater. All projects are created by students.

There were many projects made this year in collaboration with music students and dance students, featuring original music and choreography. Ashley Nicole Walden, a junior vocal performance major, and Ken Shiozawa, a junior dance performance major, are working together to create music videos featuring Walden’s original songs and Shiozawa’s choreography.

Walden studies opera and writes her own songs. For this project she is writing three pop songs. Shiozawa is choreographing dance routines featuring traditional ballet.

Walden said she hopes that showing pop music videos will draw more people to the performance.

“My songs are really catchy and super-relatable,” she said.

Each video has a different theme that goes along with the song. No two videos are alike. Walden and Shiozawa used the filming and editing talents of digital media production major Marisa Glantz.

The project consists of three music videos each with a different theme. The first one is a prep-school theme, and the second video features more traditional ballet. The third video took inspiration from 80s workout videos.

Shiozawa also worked with Frank Duarte, a fourth year music composition graduate student, on “Tiny Mirror,” a commentary on the way people portray their lives on social media.

“Your look is reflected through your phone,” Duarte said. “Our lives are sometimes controlled by them.”

Duarte had Shiozawa write the libretto first so Duarte could compose the music around the storyline, which focuses on whether people are being their true selves or creating a persona.

“I’m a programmatic composer,” Duarte said. “I have to have a story; a plot, a libretto, or a text. I can’t just put notes on a page.”

This was a new experience for Shiozawa, who has never collaborated with a composer face to face. He has only ever choreographed to pre-recorded music.

Another example of a collaboration between music and dance students is the project of Jeremy Gruner. Jeremy Gruner is a third-year music composition graduate student and also a sophomore undergraduate dance major. He’s working with senior dance arts administration major Grace Robison to create a performance centered on the theme of human connection, titled, “Re-Awaken.” The piece will be 10 to 15 minutes long and will feature an ensemble of nine dancers.

Robison’s choreographic process is different than the way that most people choreograph.

“When I create choreography, I tend to create in silence,” Robison said. “I put the music and sound score in afterwards.”

Gruner has worked on collaborative projects in the past, but this was the first time he was involved from the project’s inception.

“We did agree from the start that the music and the movement would pretty much be unrelated,” Gruner said. “But Grace and I worked together with concepts.”

Robison said she found the experience to be a vital part of her Butler experience.

“It’s been so rewarding,” Robison said. “It has pushed me in new ways. It puts you in a vulnerable place and as artists we need to be put there.”

Shiozawa said receiving a grant and working on collaborative projects has helped enhance his skills as a choreographer.

“I feel like working with other people that are not within my department has been eye-opening and has taught me different ways to enhance my skills as a choreographer.”

Both “Tiny Mirror” and “Re-Awaken” will be performed live. Grunner will be playing piano live and manipulating sounds from the piano while the dancers perform Robison’s routine.

The performance of these pieces and others will be performed on April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Schrott Center for the Arts.


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