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School opens the door to more collaboration

Alumnus and students from dance, drama and music create piece for Dance Montage

(Mis)Communication is choreographed by dance alumnus Meghann Michalsky, directed by drama student Matthew Hall and music composed by music student August Murphy.

Photo by Wojciech Mochniej

Last fall, dance student Meghann Michalsky (BA ’14), drama student Matthew Hall and music student August Murphy shared the stage in Aesop’s Fables, the first interdisciplinary performance of the School of Creative and Performing Arts. One year later, the three artists came together on their own to create a new performance piece, called (Mis)Communication, that will premiere at Dance Montage 2014.

“Aesop’s Fables really intrigued me,” says Michalsky. “It showed me how collaboration with other disciplines can add more layers to movement.”

When the call for choreographers came, Michalsky contacted Hall. “We always knew we wanted to do a show on our own,” says Hall, who is directing the piece. “Dance Montage offered the opportunity to do this.”
Later on, Murphy was approached to compose the music.

(Mis)Communication can be described as physical theatre, a dance piece which includes drama elements and in which the music creates an atmosphere.

The entire process of creating a collaborative work was both challenging and rewarding. The team went extensively back and forth between ideas, themes and choreographies.

“We are all very headstrong in our own fields,” says Michalsky. “Every time we would meet up and discuss the piece, we would really push each other. That was the hardest thing, but it turned out to be the best thing.”

“Because we’re not necessarily familiar with each other’s disciplines, we would ask questions. It really forces you to come up with a solid reason why something belongs in the show,” adds Murphy. “The piece is a lot more cohesive because of that rather than if we had all gone our separate ways and mashed everything together hoping it would work.”

”Creating a piece together is more than just collaborating our disciplines. It’s discovering ourselves and each other in new and exciting ways and finding a balance that works for everyone,” says Hall. “There is so much to be learned for actors to be working with dancers and musicians, and vice versa.”

With this collaborative work, the team wants to set an example. They hope to influence more people to create and work together.

“All the resources and opportunities are here. There are so many students with different skills in the school, use each other as outside eyes to create better work,” says Hall.

“This is just the beginning,” concludes Michalsky, hoping to develop the work further into a full-length performance piece.

Dance Montage runs from November 20 to November 22 in the University Theatre. This 45th edition will celebrate the life of Sigurd Hagen-Torn (1927-2011), who holds the record for the number of years he was involved with Dance Montage. Tickets are available through Campus Ticket Centre.