Art can be found in anyone, and the Interdisciplinary Art Symposium is out to prove it.
The IAS is a large, theme-based multi-part program that gives students the opportunity to take a more critical and historical approach to the performing arts.
“It offers students, faculty and community members a new, more global and holistic way to think about the experience of dance, drama, music and visual art,” said IAS program director Rhonda Garelick. “IAS invites people to move beyond spectator-ship and to participate in and think about the arts in society.”
Past IAS themes have included “Immigration, Migration and Transplantation in Performance” and “Ancient World through Modern Eyes.” This year’s theme is “Performing Partnerships: Great American Collaborations of the Stage,” and will take a look at how artistic partnerships are created and what can come out of them.
IAS brings in guest speakers, performers and artists to interact with students and expand their understanding of the performing arts.
“We have had wonderful interactions between guests and students,” Garelick said. “Sometimes our visitors help spark new ideas in our students for their own future careers or creative paths.”
Some of the guests IAS has planned for the spring semester include the Martha Graham Dance Company’s “Appalachian Spring,” which will be followed by a two-person show, “Martha and The Johnny Carson Theater.” IAS is also bringing Andrew Soloman to discuss his new book “Far From the Tree.”
“This year we also have a special focus on LGBTQ issues,” said associate IAS director Amy Ossian. “The final event of the season will be a week-long residency and public performance of ‘It Gets Better,’ a collaboration between the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Speak Theater Arts and the It Gets Better Project.”
IAS intends to open the eyes of those who aren’t familiar with the arts.
“IAS has offered students, some of whom haven’t had opportunities to experience live performing arts, to talk to directors, choreographers, composers and actors about their lives and creative process,” Garelick said. “It opens up new areas for students to pursue in their own lives and in their students.”
The actual course isn’t necessarily directed to only fine arts students. The department has had students from every department come through and participate. Anyone with a junior, senior or graduate standing can enroll in the course or participate in the program.
“The IAS seminar incorporates philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, politics, journalism and even biology sometimes,” Garelick said.
Students who have been involved in the program give “enthusiastic and positive” feedback.
“We have many repeat IAS seminar students over the seasons and many local followers in the community who regularly attend the productions and lectures,” Garelick said.
The skills taken away from the course can last a lifetime for people who become interested and passionate about what they’ve learned.
“I want IAS students to find new ways of interacting with the performing and visual arts, and to see that they arts offers them ways to cultivate a rich interior life as well as more fulfilling experience of their communities,” Garelick added. “I’ve had students who’d never attended a ballet before decide they would become lifelong followers of dance.”
The IAS ties diverse arts and communities together through the themes while covering important topics and issues. Students and participants can build a larger understanding and appreciation of the performing arts that other programs may not include.
“It takes on the very biggest issues; what creativity is, the role of arts in a university and in society at large,” Garelick said.
“Developing a love of the arts can bring joy for a lifetime.”