New performing arts minor announced / Four different sections to be offered

Students rehearse in Professor Risa Kaplowitz’s VPA 201 class. (Photo courtesy of James Day)

As a result, the College’s School of Arts and Communication has announced the integrated performing arts minor, a revised and remodeled program shaped from the foundations of the theatre minor. Modifications have been underway since fall of 2011, yet the products are finally being seen this spring.

The IPA minor is an expansion of the previous theatrical experiences; it is designed to not only instruct students in technique and performance history, but to “connect people and communities.” As art interacts between individuals and collective societies, classes in the program will focus on the societal concerns that stem from the arts and, ultimately, influence students to create new works of their own.

“In this minor, students recognize that performance is not limited to stage productions but can take place in a variety of venues and forms and for a variety of purposes,” said James Day, assistant dean to the School of Arts and Communication.

The committee formed to reinvigorate the program believed that “theatre” was too narrow a theme for scholarly focus; instead, they broadened the minor to encompass “performance,” hoping this might draw in a greater and more interested population.

They have also given the minor a more fluid structure. Whereas the bygone Theatre and Drama Interdisciplinary minor had four required courses, the IPA minor has only one: VPA 101, or integrated visual and performing arts. Through this base course, students can “gain an appreciation of how our understanding of others and ourselves is deepened through a shared experience in the arts,” Day said. And from there, a number of subcategories arise.

As students progress through the minor, they will have four sections available to them:  “Theory, History and Literature,” “Applied Music,” “Visual Arts and Interactive Multimedia” and “Applied Theatre, Dance and Production.” The applied courses allow students to create original work with professional artists, while the “Theory, History and Literature” courses, for instance, study art’s impact on the development of civilization.

Courses like these help to compliment the creative clubs and activities on campus, and as a result, “some students are pursuing this minor to augment their experiences in the many performance-based student organizations on campus or … in their major,” Day said.

And as the minor is still young, it has time to grow and evolve. Students who are pursuing the IPA program can add independent studies as substitutes for elective courses; elsewhere, TTR 391 Internship in Theatre Production is available in the applied theatre section, an opportunity to engage with local theatrical outlets.

The IPA minor’s possibilities have been greatly expanded by the Interdisciplinary Arts Committee, and further college feedback will impact its future developments. Until then, however, its recent inception will be tested by student interest level — the cause for initial changes and the determinant for the next steps.