For the past year, the University of Houston has been developing the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. The goal is to foster collaboration among the visual, performing and literary arts. George and Cynthia Woods Mitchell took part in an official dedication ceremony. The couple donated $20 million. Houston Public Radio’s Capella Tucker reports.
An example of that collaboration was at work before the ceremony. Poet and cultural activist Anne Waldman and choreographer and dancer Douglas Dunn held a master class for a couple dozen students.
“We want to have a little workshop where you, somebody writes and somebody choreographs and you deal with some of what happens when you try to collaborate with another medium.”
Several of the dance students take up the challenge of writing poetry. Waldman gives the students a framework to work within.
“Six phrases that have the six senses. So that would be eye, ear, taste, mind, I consider a sense, and touch and smell. So each line, it can be very very obscure.”
Meanwhile, the Dunn divides the dancers into groups.
“and then each person in the group is making a very short phrase and then each person is going to teach the other three members of the group their phrases so they’ll have four phrases, which we’ll put probably, well I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them yet, but I wanted them to have a little material before they even the encounter the text. It just comes off of where they are in their own choreographic impulse, if any (laughs).”
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston Director Karen Farber says this is one example of the University reaching out to artists to expand the visions of the students.
“What we’re trying to do is find artists in the world, in the art world, who are already doing this and bring them to campus to provide examples of the directions you can take your collaborative arts career.”
The students were given about a half hour to put their collaborative performances together.
Fourth year student Mechelle Flemming delighted in seeing other talents in her fellow students.
“It was nice to see people I dance with everyday do another discipline and not just do it, but do it well. And it’s something I never knew you know that they had other things that they do well. I wonder what other things they do well that I don’t know about.”
The dedication marks the conclusion of the $4.5 million renovation to the building that houses the Lyndall Finley Wortham Theatre. Log on to KUHF dot org for pictures of the master class. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.