What’s in a name? What, precisely, is a “school”? When I was invited to become the first full-time Director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary as of January 1st of this year, I was excited by the potential for innovation in this designation. More robust than a department, more agile than a faculty, a school is space defined and driven by the solidarity and collaboration of its members. It is a site of exploration and discovery only possible—indeed, only imaginable—in a context of thorough interdisciplinary exchange. It is a space of innovation and experimentation evoked—indeed, provoked—by the particular preoccupations and ravenous appetites associated with artistic practice and inquiry. It is a laboratory, where one not only learns but also develops the ways and means of a lifetime of learning. In all these ways, we are a school.
More specifically, we are a School of the Creative and Performing Arts, bringing together the three artistic disciplines that share a central fascination with the nature of performance: Music, Dance, and Drama. Our students receive focused and concentrated disciplinary preparation in addition to unique opportunities for multi-, cross-, and interdisciplinary instruction and experience through highly flexible yet carefully designed program options. We prioritize the immeasurable benefits of professional experience and international exchange, and by placing a premium on the intersection of practice and theory, we combine a deep respect for the pragmatic aspects of careers in the arts with a rigorous fascination for the philosophical, theoretical, cultural, sociological, and ideological dimensions of our fields.
With a particular and diligent emphasis on the physical and intellectual demands required for the creation, performance, and study of new artistic work and works, we are a home for individuals seeking to become intelligent, sophisticated artists and agile, creative scholars. Beyond that, however, we are a space where the future of the performing arts—locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally—is being examined, re-imagined, and forged anew for the twenty-first century.