A summary of the Department of Performing Arts activities for the last academic year. From the 2007-2008 College of the Arts Annual Report.

Currently undergoing a renaissance of the arts, the Department of Performing Arts began the Fall 2007 semester with five new faculty members, a new Department Chair, and a new Administrative Assistant. Given a goal of renovating the training programs in the Performing Arts, the new faculty spent the year acclimating to the University and in undertaking a review of the Department's functioning.

Challenged by significant staff turnover during the last number of years, the Department had limited academic records that referred to the past structure, practices, and philosophies, and particularly in Theatre, the faculty encountered a disjointed and mostly discarded curriculum. Addressing the immediate challenge, the Department, under the guidance of new Department Chair Nyalls Hartman, began investigation of its curricula, policies, and student expectations. Using a highly collaborative, consensus approach to leading the program review and re-design, Hartman also created the Student Advisory Council to promote student ownership and involvement in the review of program goals, student learning outcomes, and program viability.

Initial review revealed what many have known for some time: a vibrant Dance program with a committed and engaged student body. With last year's increase in student fees for the arts, the year saw a significant increase in support of Dance's production program, marking a new level of commitment to maintaining excellence in the training opportunities for Dance majors, which was highlighted by a stunning showing at the regional American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) competition held at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Review also revealed that while the Theatre program engaged a small body of passionate students, training levels and abilities varied significantly; an understandable outcome from years of program and curricular dysfunction. Committed to re-energizing and strengthening the Theatre program, the Department implemented a 'Year-One' curriculum design in order to reestablish core skills and develop foundational abilities for its majors. Focusing on training and the work of the artist, students also had the opportunity to observe the work of UL's peer institution's Theatre Programs through participation in the region's Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) held at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

This year also saw the beginning of multiple multimillion dollar renovations to the Department's training and performing facilities. Scheduled to be completed late spring 2009, The Burke-Hawthorne Theatre Renovation Project will position the Department of Performing Arts with new performance facilities that include new stadium seating, new costume and scenic shops, new dressing rooms, green room, training facilities, and thanks to a separate additional $100,000 support from the University, a new state-of-the-art lighting system.

The three-year, three-phase renovation to the Department's McLaurin Hall training facilities saw year one begin with a new roof. Phase one, currently underway, will see the creation of new offi ce spaces and ADA compliance issues addressed. Updated training studios, new dressing rooms and a green room, new costume storage, a black box performance Dance/Theatre space, and a new training studio are planned for phases two and three.

Adding to our renaissance, the University graciously funded some additional $58,000 in needed technology and equipment to assist the Department in meeting its curricular and co-curricular teaching and training mission. Vital equipment was purchased to update the program in every single area of its curriculum.

Featured in numerous articles in the local papers, the new Department has received much positive press. The Department made a concerted effort to reestablish a positive presence in the Lafayette community and throughout Acadiana. Faculty spent the year working with area theatre and dance companies, high schools, civic organizations, and area teachers, giving lectures, providing workshops, attending performances, serving as guest artists, consultants, and even State Competition Judges. In addition to serving the Acadiana region, the Department began groundwork on the implementation of a new state-wide recruiting campaign. Seen as an ongoing project and updated as the Program develops, an initial recruiting DVD has been finalized. A view of the introduction to the Department and the Department's recruiting video can be seen on line here.

With renovations under way, the Department had to move its Scenic and Costume Shops. Thanks to the crucial work of Assistant Professor of Theatre and Department Technical Director, Travis Johnson and Visiting Instructor of Theatre Costume, Walter Brown, the Department successfully relocated the Scenic Shop to the Earl K. Long Annex and the Costume Shop to classroom space in the Department's McLaurin Hall training studios. Challenged with no permanent performance space and limited facilities, the Department successfully mounted five productions, performing for some 3,000 plus students and community members.

Undertaking a theatre season of socially relevant work, the Theatre Program produced Moises Kaufman's critically acclaimed ensemble piece, The Laramie Project under the guest direction of local theatre artist, Cody Daigle. Featuring the work of 30 students and community members, Laramie saw the realized designs of Technical Director Travis Johnson.

Under the direction of veteran faculty member Kenneth Jenkins (Assistant Professor of Dance), the Department of Dance mounted its 16th annual production of State of LA Danse. Five guest artists joined Professor Kenneth Jenkins and new Assistant Professor of Dance, Diego Carrasco, in choreographing some 30 student dancers in seven different pieces. Archived as part of the Department's research and creative activity and soon to be up on the Department's webpage, the introduction to State of LA Danse can be seen online here.

New Assistant Professor Justin Bates (Theatre, Acting) researched and directed Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize Winning Play, How I Learned to Drive. Featuring the work of 25 students and community members, Drive also saw realized designs by Professor Johnson in the recreated theatre in Fletcher 134. Three student actors, Sarah Gauthier, Sam Riley, and Greta Trosclair received Kennedy Center ACTF Irene Ryan Scholarship Nominations for their work on Drive. Archived as part of the Department's research and creative activity and soon to be up on the Department's webpage, the introduction to How I Learned to Drive can be seen online here.

With the mentorship of veteran faculty member Kenneth Jenkins, nine student choreographers' adjudicated and original choreography was included in the Spring 2008 production of An Evening of Dance. In addition to the student choreographers, some 26 Dance majors performed nine major pieces including the 2008 ACDFA Gala Award dance Trepidation by graduating senior Lacey LeBlanc. Evening was featured as part of SPARK, the College's celebration of the Arts. Archived as part of the Department's research and creative activity and soon to be up on the Department's webpage, the introduction to An Evening of Dance can be seen online here.

Seven student choreographers and 18 student dancers also performed 15 different site-specific performances of their work as part of the 2008 Festival International de Louisiane. This outstanding body of work was seen entertaining audiences throughout the four-day festival, and included a performance inside Parc Sans Souci's running water fountain in Downtown Lafayette.

Rounding out the year, Closer, Patrick Marber's biting look at relationships was directed by senior Theatre student, Sarah Gauthier. It was designed by Theatre student Jenna Fontenot, and featured choreography by Dance student Megan Mod. Using the talents of more than a dozen students and community members, Closer played to sold out crowds during its three night run in Fletcher 134.

An exciting year for our student body as both the Chi Tau Epsilon (Dance Honor Society) and Alpha Psi Omega (Theatre Honor Society) Chapters received formal recognition by the University as well as renewal of their National Charters. Speaking well for the approach to training and disciplined study in the Performing Arts, student recognition and achievement was once again outstanding. Dance students Lacey LeBlanc (3.97 GPA) and Matt Couvillon (4.0 GPA) were honored as the College of the Arts' Outstanding Graduates for Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 respectively, and Dance majors Kristina Doiron and Melinda Hebert were elected to the SGA as the College of the Arts' President and College of the Arts' Senator for 2008.

Graduates from the program, Matt Couvillon, Lauren Elizabeth Scharfenstein, and Teri Wyble, were also inducted into Phi Kappa Phi National Honor society for their outstanding academic achievements. Along with Matt Couvillon, graduating theatre student Allison Barron received a scholarship to study at Spring Board NY, the Summer Intensive held in New York City. Frances Barker (Dance) received a scholarship to study at the Urban Bush Women's Summer Intensive in New York City and Theresa Wasiloski (Dance) received a scholarship to participate in the prestigious Summer Intensive Program at Point Park University.

In addition to these and many other student achievements too numerous to list here, eight student officers (two Freshman, two Sophomores, two Juniors, and two Seniors) served their peers and the Department as contributing members of the Student Advisory Council. In addition to a rigorous teaching, research, and performance schedule, Department faculty attended numerous national and international conferences, representing the Department and the University.

Nyalls Hartman, Associate Professor of Theatre and Department Chair, presented "Considerations in Presenting a Mission Centered International Arts Programming" as part of "In Conversation With: An International Panel Symposium," held at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Ottawa, Ontario. Maintaining an active presence nationally, Professor Hartman attended the "Under the Radar Theatre Festival," a Conference Festival of New World Drama held at the Public Theater in New York City. In addition to updating his national training at the annual meeting of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC/NCA), held in Chicago Illinois, Professor Hartman, a Certified PEAQ/AQIP Consultant Evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission, co-chaired the reaccredidation team reviewing Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

New Assistant Professor Camille Bulliard (Theatre, Acting Movement), Justin Bates, Travis Johnson, and Nyalls Hartman, along with 11 Theatre students, attended the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) held at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Faculty and students attended workshops on Acting, Movement, and Directing, saw award winning production work from peer universities, and reestablished UL as a member institution. Professors Bulliard and Bates completed training as Regional KCACTF Respondents.

Travis Johnson, Assistant Professor of Theatre, updated his training while in attendance at the 2008 United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) held in Houston, Texas.

Professors Kenneth Jenkins, Diego Carrasco, Travis Johnson, and Nyalls Hartman, along with 24 students, attended the regional American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) competition held at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. The Department brought two dances to the competitive conference: Professor Carrasco's Acronical and student Lacey LeBlanc's Trepidation, which went on to be danced at the Conference's Final Gala Competition. Professor Johnson served as the productions' Technical Director and Lighting Designer and Professors Jenkins and Carrasco taught master classes at the Conference. In addition to performing, program students had the opportunity to train with master teachers in Ballet, Modern, and Experimental Dance Techniques.

Currently searching for two faculty positions, (1) an Assistant Professor of Dance, Ballet and (2) an Instructor of Costume continuing appointment, the Department hopes to bring new faculty aboard before the start of the Fall 2009 semester. Along with maintaining a full teaching and production schedule, the Department will continue to focus on four major projects: (1) a new curriculum for the Theatre Program, (2) new marketing and recruiting campaign, and a new operational website, (3) an updated Department policy manual and handbook, and (4) implementation of the new state-wide recruiting campaign.

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