College of Fine Arts Changing with the Times


Kiffer Creveling

Art exhibits on display at the Winter Farmers Market at the Rio Grande Depot on Saturday, January 30, 2016

By Holly Vasic

The College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah is looking forward to another year to serve students and faculty, provide opportunities and create unique experiences. Due to generous donors, scholarships, tuition and fees and other monetary gains that are redistributed to each school, the College of Fine Arts is able to give its students a quality education. All five schools within the college have a similar goal — to keep growing.

The College of Fine Arts is constantly developing to keep up with the changing tides. The School of Dance, which combined the ballet and modern dance departments, just completed its first year. Luc Vanier, founding director, comes from a background of professional ballet and academics. He said his experience has given him the ability to understand both modern dance and ballet, and he understands research and teaching. His specific interests involves dance and technology.

“My research has been on technology, how technology affects the body, how we think about the body and how that affects our interaction with technology” Vanier said.

Vanier has personal ambitions for the School of Dance, but due to its newness, he’s just hoping to start a conversation.

“What they’ve done up until now has been excellent,” Vanier said. “The ballet program is one of a few in the country. People come far and wide to study ballet at the University of Utah.”

The majors within the School of Dance are designed to work with a double major. Some dancers want to focus on dance, and others are more academically inclined, either way Vanier is happy to have them. He foresees a future in which choreographers and psychologists can have joint ventures in research, where surgeons can use their dance education to deepen their understanding of movement and where professional dancers can have a degree.

The School of Dance also puts on several productions during the year to raise funds for the department and summer dance intensives. The School of Music also puts on many productions during the year.

Miguel Chuaqui, director of the School of Music, clarified that the monetary gains “play a very small part in the budget.” The disbursement from the College of Fine Arts is where most of the expendables come from.The School of Music has many goals, but its primary goal is getting students involved in the local music scene and getting them networking.

“The more connections [they] have in the community the easier it will be for them,” Chuaqui said. “Luckily, our faculty is very well respected and can open these doors.”

There are about 300 productions done by the school each year, and the half a million dollars spent on them prepares students for their futures. Luckily enough, Chuaqui is a composer with a major in music and math, so he comes from a place that can navigate the waters of accounting, and he can be an advocate for the students’ education within the school. Just as the School of Music encourages networking, the School of Theatre sends its students out to work with unofficial partners such as the Pioneer Theater Company. Gage Williams, the Theatre Department chair, likes the idea of students connecting with the right people through internships and other low paying positions. Once they graduate, they will know who can help launch their careers.

One of the most exciting things going on at the School of Theatre right now is musicals, according to Williams.

“Seven years ago we reinstituted the musical theatre program and that’s been huge,” he said.

The biggest problem the school is facing is a lack of audience space, because the audience the productions are bringing in are too big for the current venue. The School of Theatre’s goal over the next couple of years is to build a space that can fit all their students and faculty, classrooms and a place for the audience. A proscenium is what Williams has in mind with a space for the orchestra. Williams explained they do not have an official capital campaign yet, but they are working on it and seeking interested donors.The School of Film has similar ambitions in mind.

“We’d like to fix up our spaces, we’d like to remodel the building that carries our name, we’d like to expand our faculty [and] we’d always like to expand our facility” said Kevin Hanson, School of Film and Media chair.

Another focus for the School of Film is technology, new and old. The school is trying to get certified as a Kodak exhibition theatre, so it is hoping to add more classes where students can shoot on 16mm film.

The College of Fine Arts loves when the schools within collaborate with one another.

“We have the only film school in the region, that I know of, that has a partnership with dance, so we have a very vibrant screen dance community,” Hanson explained.

The College of Fine Arts is growing, and it has many opportunities for students, graduates, performers and observers.

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