Message from the Dean
As my first academic year as dean comes to a close, I am reflecting on what a thrilling and invigorating few months it has been. This year showcased a stunning display of SMTD’s breadth and depth across the performing arts. The talent, creativity, and poise of our students shone brightly and the level of artistic and scholarly excellence was simply inspiring. For me, it was also a remarkable reminder of the power of our art forms – their capacity to transport us, to build community, and to explore our shared human experience.
I have spent my time listening and learning, attending performances and presentations, studying the curriculum, and exploring the larger academic and cultural context of the University of Michigan. I have become reacquainted with many longstanding campus traditions, and, at the same time, marveled at how much the School has changed since I was a student here. As you read this edition of Michigan Muse, you will get a vivid sense of the astonishing reach, ambition, and imagination of our alumni, faculty, staff, and students.
One particularly exciting aspect of my new role has been the opportunity to be part of the planning team for the new Dance Building on North Campus, just approved by the Board of Regents. Adjacent to the Brehm Pavilion at the Earl V. Moore Building, the first dedicated facility in the Department of Dance’s storied 110-year history will accommodate 21st-century experiential and academic work, and feature four large, flexible studio-classroom spaces. The largest of the studios will be nearly double the size of our existing dance performance space, with seating for 100+ people. Construction will begin in late summer/early fall, and we look forward to the opening of the facility in spring 2021. It will not only invigorate and highlight dance at Michigan, but it will substantially improve the geographic proximity of our SMTD community. The interdisciplinary creativity thus unleashed will be truly amazing.
Another special highlight of this year was January’s Collage Concert, one of the campus’s most cherished and anticipated annual events. As I entered a buzzing Hill Auditorium, I realized that the last time I had attended Collage was when I was an undergraduate student—35 years ago. I know I didn’t appreciate then what an artistic tour de force it is, nor how emblematic it is of SMTD’s central place in U-M’s cultural scene. What I do remember is being very nervous, not about playing but about getting to the right place on stage at the right time – and all in the dark!
The distinguishing characteristic of Collage is, of course, the seamless juxtaposition of different genres, especially that moment of anticipation when we realize one splendid performance is coming to an end, but another is about to begin. As I look forward with excitement to my second year, I have a similar feeling of keen expectation. What new artistic and scholarly heights will we reach? What new frontiers will we explore? What new partnerships will we forge across campus, in our state, and around the world? Building on what I have learned these last eight months, in the coming year I will be working collaboratively with the SMTD community to deepen our connections across
campus, in the community, and in the profession; expand our commitment to global engagement and our programs that produce artist/citizens; and further develop our outstanding curricular and co-curricular programs that empower our graduates to flourish throughout their careers. Michigan is a place of mesmerizing possibility. I am thrilled to be back in Ann Arbor and to again be part of the SMTD adventure.
Dave Gier, Dean
Paul Boylan Collegiate Professor of Music
School of Music, Theatre & Dance
In this issue
The Chamber Music Sandbox
Long a core component of SMTD’s music curriculum, chamber music has lately taken center stage as the place where innovation and career development come to thrive. “Chamber music offers us the opportunity to play and explore in our very own new music sandbox, where the possibilities are endless and the process is full of joy,…
Hands-On Experience with the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments
Deep in the heart of U-M’s North Campus Research Complex (NCRC), the students of Musicology 406/506, “Musical Instruments of the World,” are hard at work. After weeks of classroom lectures, they are excited to gain hands-on experience with SMTD’s Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments. The workroom is a flurry of activity as students pick pieces…
Oh, THAT Guy! – David Paymer
Everyone knows character actor David Paymer. They just don’t know they do. Mention actor David Paymer to the average person and you might get a blank stare. Even if you list some of the dozens of films or TV shows in which he’s been featured – from his earliest days, in shows like Barney Miller,…
Bringing Broadway’s Best
Michael McElroy was SMTD’s latest Broadway Artist in Residence, thanks to the Benard L. Maas Foundation When Vincent Cardinal was a student teacher at Shaker Heights High School in Ohio, he cast 10th-grader Michael McElroy in Runaways by Elizabeth Swados. That was back in 1981. “Michael had the musical line that opened the show. At…
Exploring Social Justice Through Movement in Ann Arbor and Detroit A multifaceted initiative, launched by the Department of Dance this winter, is forging alliances in Detroit while exploring the ways that dance can imagine and realize a more equitable society. Featuring performances, workshops, an artist-in-residence program, and student fellowships, Daring Dances was created and curated…
PAT: The Future is Female
As women are forging diverse careers in the field, the Department of Performing Arts Technology has stepped up recruitment of female students. According to a January 2018 study by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Inclusion Initiative (2012–17), women constitute just two percent of producers working in music. “For most…