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Dance Professor to Launch Third Century Initiative Project

Laurel Thomas Gnagey, 
Michigan News01/10/2014

Using the arts to increase understanding of issues surrounding wind energy has become one of the most recent Third Century Initiative projects to receive funding.

The Office of the Provost has announced 13 projects that will receive Quick Wins funding through the Transforming Learning for a Third Century phase of the $50 million initiative.

This is the fourth round of Quick Wins, which are small-scale, easily ready courses or programs that promise to transform learning. They are eligible for funding up to $25,000.

Jessica Fogel, professor of dance in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, said the TLTC funding would allow her students and collaborators from across the state to tackle an issue that has fans and foes alike.

As an increasing number of wind turbines dot Michigan's landscape, people either have embraced them for the energy they harness or oppose what they see as eyesores.

Fogel's multidisciplinary project, "Into the Wind," will engage students and faculty from dance and music, urban and regional planning, natural resources and environment, and literature, to explore what wind means as an energy source.

In addition to several U-M collaborators, the project also involves the director of dance at Grand Valley State University, who is an SMTD alumnus, and individuals from the sustainability community.

"For the past several years I've led students, faculty and community partners in site dance performance projects that address ways the arts can provide stewardship for the environment," Fogel said.

"As a choreographer, I'm keenly interested in performance projects that investigate the stories embedded in our rural and urban landscapes. The idea of being able to engage with institutions and business people at the grass roots level is exciting."

"It will be interesting to explore the landscape and learn what we perceive as beautiful or not. It's such a natural topic in terms of the synergy with music and dance."

Fogel says the students not only will be engaged in creating a work for an August 2014 public performance in Muskegon but will learn about the environment, public policy and all of the issues surrounding sustainability and wind.



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Photography Credits:

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Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower