Students Develop Conservatory’s First Senior Dance Showing
A showcase is a powerful means of enabling graduating performing artists to exhibit their talent and make meaningful connections with working professionals in their industry. Until this point in time, dance students at Boston Conservatory have not had that opportunity, but as the demand for such a performance increased, two seniors—Ariane Michaud and Katharina Schier (both B.F.A. ’16, contemporary dance)—decided to take on the initiative.
The resulting inaugural contemporary dance showcase will be held at The Gibney Center in New York City on March 16. The hour-long performance will feature more than 14 Conservatory seniors who will be graduating in May 2016 with a B.F.A. in contemporary dance performance, including: Demetrius Burns, Jade Chauvin, Elijah Dillehay, Emily Jerant-Hendrickson, Cacia LaCount, Key'Aira Lockett, MacKenzie Mathis, Kelsey McCormack, Taylor Rodman, Ariane Michaud, Katharina Schier, and Dorrie Silver. The event will also include a workshop from an esteemed teacher and choreographer in the NYC area, as well as a panel discussion with industry professionals about the NYC dance scene, networking and the economics of being a working artist.
The concept for the dance showcase was sparked during a spring 2015 dance division meeting. Dance Division Director Cathy Young encouraged students who were passionate about having a showcase to initiate one themselves. Schier and Michaud were both inspired to take on the endeavor, and collaborated with several of the Conservatory’s departments—including Career Services, Marketing and External Relations to understand how to plan, produce and market a showcase. To make the event possible, Michaud and Schier organized several fundraising efforts, including a Kickstarter (for which they reached their goal) and an on-campus bake sale.
“The event is a true collaboration in every sense,” said Kim Haack, director of external relations, who served as a staff advisor for the students. “We've brought together all of the Conservatory's resources to make this happen, but the students have been the driving force. I think it's a great way of ‘introducing’ the senior class to the NYC dance world. It gives them a chance to show what they can do and have a targeted opportunity to network within that community.”
Faculty member Sydney Skybetter, their faculty advisor on the project, is a producer with Dance Now NYC at the Gibney Dance Center. Michaud and Schier felt that Gibney Dance’s mission—to help young emerging artists in New York—aligned with their own goals for the showcase. This was a key reason why they selected this space for the event.
Still, Michaud noted that making this event happen has certainly had its challenges—particularly taking on a leadership position among her peers and friends.
“We are building this performance with no precedent in the dance division, which is a complicated endeavor for two students finishing their last year at the Conservatory,” she explained. “We have dedicated a lot of extra time to this process, but we are learning an incredible amount.”
Schier added: “Working on this project has taught me many things specifically related to producing, creating, organizing, and marketing a show. However, perhaps the most valuable lessons have been in learning what it takes to be a good collaborator and in developing a positive team-oriented working environment.”
In terms of the impact, Michaud hopes students can make meaningful connections with working industry professionals and Conservatory alumni in the New York City area. Moreover, the students aim to make this a sustainable and recurring event for Conservatory dance seniors.
“This is a tough industry and yet such a small world—and for that reason I believe it is important to honor our conservatory family,” said Schier. “I believe that this show could grow to an annual event that strengthens the connections between the students and alumni.”
Haack also feels optimistic that this could become an ongoing event for future dance classes.
“I would love to see it continue for the future—it's a valuable tool to smooth the transition from college to career,” she said.