The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Fine arts performance and education opportunities at the U

Although the U is most famous for its research facilities and awe-inspiring assortment of outdoor offerings, the school also has a well-developed sense of art and culture.

The U’s ballet department is nationally renowned as one of the best, maintaining a reputation for excellence and dedication that is surpassed by few, if any, rival institutions. The school of music and Kingsbury Hall, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, regularly organize incredible events and consistently strive for excellence in their art. And speaking of art, the U’s department of art and art history offers interested students a conducive environment to study the history of the form as well as create individualized artistic expressions.

With these departments and schools all localized on campus, U students need never starve for high-class entertainment. Intended as a brief guide to these departments and the events they offer, the following primer may be of assistance to those incoming students with artistic interests ranging from the classical to the abstract.

Kingsbury Hall

Kingsbury Hall is one of the pre-eminent performing arts venues in Utah, and it just so happens to be located on campus at Presidents’ Circle. This season is especially important for Kingsbury, as it marks the hall’s 75th anniversary. In celebration of the occasion, Kingsbury has a diverse and intriguing lineup of acts that represent the eclectic nature of the hall, according to director Greg Geilmann.

“Our upcoming season is an international showcase,” Geilmann said. “[It] reflects the outrageous and diverse image of Kingsbury Hall.”

Included in the upcoming season are performances by Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Jazz Center Orchestra; a Utah Ballet tribute; and DanceBrazil, which will showcase both athleticism and fluid motion in a performance of Capoeira, the historic dance/martial art with roots in 16th-century slave cultures.

College of

Fine Arts

What do film students, photographers, thespians and top-tier dancers have in common? All of their prospective majors fall under the scope of the U’s College of Fine Arts.

Home to six departments, a professional dance company, several theaters and many other amenities, the college is the official end-all be-all of artistic academia at the U.

“We have six departments including art and art history, ballet, modern dance, film studies, music and theater,” said Phyllis Haskell, dean of the college.

The art and art history departments are markedly different from one another in focus and method, although they are often grouped together by theme.

“Art and art history are two different programs,” Haskell said. “Art history is a degree that focuses on the scholastic issues in art, like the traditions and history of the discipline. Art, on the other hand, is a degree that focuses on actually making art. They are two different ways of learning.”

Students with a wide variety of artistic inclinations can find a niche within the art department, with courses in everything from painting to print making and photography to ceramics. Some of these classes are available to students outside of the art program, too.

“We have courses that are available to non-majors,” Haskell said.

The College of Fine Arts also oversees the theatre department at the U, which is divided up into specialties and hosts performances in several theaters on campus: the recently renamed and relocated Studio 115, on the first floor of the Performing Arts Building, the Pioneer Memorial Theatre, and the Babcock Theatre, located in the basement of the Pioneer Theatre.

“The Pioneer Theatre has a professional designation,” Haskell said. “We are in the process of developing a master’s degree program, hopefully to be completed in the next few years, in addition to the apprenticeship program already offered.”

Within the theatre program, extraordinarily talented and driven students can become a part of the U’s Actor Training Program by way of audition.

“The Actor Training Program is an area of study within the theatre program that is nationally ranked and highly concentrated,” Haskell said.

Actors both in the training program and outside of it put on performances in both the Babcock Theatre and Studio 115.

For a list of performances, students can consult the department’s Web site at

The film program at the U offers both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in film studies and boasts a faculty of professors who are not only educators but often filmmakers themselves.

Courses within film studies include introductions to film, as well as animation and experimental film survey. Being located in Utah allows the program to offer students the opportunity to go to the Sundance Film Festival for academic credit, too.

Accredited since 1952, the U’s school of music offers a comprehensive program of music study on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Housed in the gorgeously renovated David P. Gardner Hall on lower campus, the school and its facilities attract outstanding professors and consequently offer students the opportunity to study with passionate educators. Gardner Hall also plays host to a plethora of high-class and renowned musicians with its Virtuoso Series, bringing acclaimed performers like Elaine Elias and Barbara Bonney to the U in the upcoming year. The emerging opera program within the school is something for students to keep an eye on.

The U’s modern dance and ballet programs are known nationwide as some of the best, consistently ranked in the top tier of similar competitive institutions.

“Modern dance and ballet are ranked in the top three in the country,” Haskell said. “They pretty much have been since their inception.”

This high standard of education can be partially attributed to the faculty and staff within these programs, according to Haskell.

“The people who are here [in these programs] are excellent in both an artistic and administrative sense,” she said.

However, while the modern dance and ballet programs may share the prestige of being so well-respected, they are markedly different programs.

“They are two different forms of dance,” Haskell said. “Typically ballet is a classic form with deep historic roots and modern dance is a 20th-century form that is often more experimental.”

The fact that the U draws a designation between its two dance programs is another way in which it sets itself apart from other institutions.

“We are one of the only schools I know of that separates the two,” Haskell said.

The U’s ballet program also sets itself apart from other preeminent programs by giving its students three options of study: traditional performance, teaching and character dance.

“We are unique because very few other institutions even teach character dance,” said Barbara Hamblin, a professor and undergraduate advisor in the department. “It has roots in Eastern European ethnic dance and is closely linked with ballet. It places more emphasis on footwork and rhythm…almost like a flamenco dance.”

U students can watch the ballet program and its professional dance company, Utah Ballet, all throughout the school year with performances from October to May. For a full season listing, students can visit the programs Web site at

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