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Making Connections

Summer 2013

Dear Class of 2017,

I write to you on behalf of the 2013 Making Connections Committee, a team of faculty from all four Divisions who have collaborated to plan a two-session event designed to welcome you into our vibrant community of thinking artists.  Your experiences at, and in preparation for, these sessions will play an important role in your first year at the Conservatory.

Making Connections is just what it sounds like – a series of conversations and collaborations between students and faculty of all Divisions that will draw ties between the work we all do, and illuminate the central connection between academic and artistic practice that defines our day-to-day experience as members of an artistic community.

This year, Making Connections will be centered on two important – and provocative – works of the twentieth century: E.L. Doctorow’s novel The Book of Daniel, and jazzdance choreographer Danny Buraczeski’s highly celebrated work, Ezekiel’s Wheel.  Together, these works highlight a central concern in the lives and work of contemporary artists: how to understand, approach, and react to our histories, be they inspirational, difficult, or even – in some cases – painful.

We will begin Making Connections with an evening screening, performance and talk-back. At this session, we will have the privilege of experiencing and discussing Ezekiel’s Wheel with Cathy Young, the Director of the Dance Division, and many of the dancers who performed the work in the Conservatory’s 2013 concert, Winter.Dance!. Buraczeski’s piece is a beautiful, resonant, deeply moving statement on the powers of community, history, and artistic expression, which makes it a great catalyst for dialogue. For this first session of Making Connections, you should come prepared to thoughtfully engage the work as scholar-artists. 

Making Connections will continue the following morning with small-group discussions, in which we - faculty, Orientation Leaders, and the class of 2017 - will come together to work through our thoughts on both Ezekiel’s Wheel and The Book of Daniel.  Each small group will model the work that will be done in the classes all of you will take in your first year here at the Conservatory: thoughtful and dynamic engagement with text, creative and intellectual discussion and reflection, and, perhaps most importantly, scholarly collaboration among people from all four Divisions.

For this second session, there’s a bit more work to do in preparation.  Before you arrive in Boston for Orientation, you should:

  • Purchase and read The Book of Daniel in its entirety. The text is available at most booksellers, and, of course, through online retailers.
  • Read the study guide for Ezekiel's Wheel. Printed copies of the study guide for Ezekiel's Wheel will also be available on campus when you arrive.
  • Select and mark - through underlining or flagging - three quotations in Doctorow’s novel that strike you as significant.  These could be moments that raise questions, spark your curiosity, excite you, or even confuse you.  Beyond marking these three quotations, you should come to Orientation prepared to discuss your selections, and the reasons behind your choices.  The quotations you select will dictate much of the content of the discussion that will take place in your small group, so be thoughtful and specific in your selection and preparation!
  • Consider the following guiding questions as you read through Doctorow’s novel and select your three quotations:
    • How does a person's political engagement define or alter their artistic and intellectual work?
    • What, if anything, is the political responsibility of an artistically and intellectually engaged person?
    • How might a person use their intellectual and artistic work to confront (or engage, or avoid) a troubling, shameful or difficult history?
    • What is the effect of history and/or politics on our understanding of ourselves as creatively engaged people?
    • How do we understand the relationship between an individual and his or her community?
    • How are communities formed, re-formed, or rejected through artistic and intellectual work?
       

 

Everyone here at the Conservatory is eagerly awaiting your arrival, and we can’t wait to get started on the exciting and challenging work that lies ahead!

Carlee Travis

Executive Assistant, Office of Academic Affairs

Liberal Arts Faculty

 

Making Connections Committee 2013:

 

Dr. Patricia Hoy, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean and Chief Academic Officer

James O’Dell, Associate Dean for Academic Operations

Chris Reade, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

Judson Evans, Liberal Arts Division Director

Dr. Rhoda Bernard, Director of Professional Education and Enrichment

Dr. Gaynor Blandford, Liberal Arts Faculty

Chris Caggiano, Liberal Arts and Theater Faculty

Maggy Gorrill, Dance and Theater Faculty

Alyssa Schmidt, Theater Faculty

Carlee Travis, Liberal Arts Faculty

 

 

 

 

 

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