Meany Center

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Trisha Brown Dance Company (Photo Credit: Phil Lanum)

Standing in the middle of an imaginary cube, Katherine Kruger, dance major at the University of Washington, mimicked the movements of Cecily Campbell, a member of the renowned Trisha Brown Dance Troupe. As Cecily moved, she followed, like a shadow. Each gesture referenced a place on the imaginary cube. Then the dance exploded in movement, reaching and twisting, before returning to the confines of the imaginary cube. 

“I remember myself sinking into a light mood of a calm and quiet mind,” Katherine says. She made each movement of her body with clear intention. “It was breathtakingly beautiful and I couldn't help but think of how lucky I was to have these kinds of opportunities. I can't imagine I was the only student in the room who felt that way.”

This master class took place in Meany Hall and was made possible by Meany Center for the Performing Arts (formerly UW World Series) which brings extraordinary artists from around the globe to Seattle. Student engagement distinguishes Meany Center from other performing arts presenters in the area. It is at the heart of what they do. 

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Jessica Lang Dance

A few visiting artists are incorporated into student curriculum in the form of master classes. Some co-create work with students. Others schedule classroom lectures and demonstrations. Some perform in unexpected places, like student dorms and the library, in addition to their public performance on the grand stage at Meany Hall. One dance company that has performed with Meany Center, Bandaloop, is currently working on a project exploring novel ways to build demand for dance with non-arts students at UW. 

A Student Engagement Team (SET) helps the administration organize and promote student-only parties, intermission receptions, and other events on campus featuring the visiting artists. The group of artists they have the opportunity to work with is, to borrow Katherine’s word, breathtaking. In addition to Trisha Brown, a seminal influence in American contemporary dance, upcoming performers include Jessica Lang Dance (Nov. 10-12), Emerson String Quartet (April 21, 2017), two stellar pianists: Yefim Bronfman (April 18, 2017), Kirill Gerstein (May 16, 2017) and Dobet Gnahoré, one of contemporary African music’s most exciting talents. The Mark Morris Dance Group was recently in town with The Silk Road Ensemble, who also performed in the Odegaard Library for a student audience.

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Dobet Gnahoré

Elizabeth Duffell is the director of student engagement for Meany Center. She relishes the opportunity to bring world-class performing arts into the daily lives of UW students. She says, “Music and dance activate your brain in really unique ways. I want all students to have the opportunity to discover a love for the performing arts, whether they ultimately chose to perform themselves or just discover a love for being an audience member and escaping from their daily lives to another place where anything seems possible.”

Some of the skills performing arts teach students—artists themselves or geologists or software engineers—are creativity, collaboration, and communication, skills valued in any profession. Elizabeth says, “Our students at the University of Washington will go on to be leaders in our region and beyond, so I believe the importance of educating the whole student can't be underestimated and we are glad to be a part of that!”

Pagliacci, a long-time supporter of the series, is proud to be a part of that too. 

The 2016/2017 schedule can be found here.

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The Student Engagement Team enjoys Pagliacci Pizza