GTPulse: Music, Song, Dance and Comparative Art Students Provide Beautiful Entertainment for Locals

The holiday season is a magical time meant for being with loved ones and finding ways to get out of the house for winter. Beyond winter sports, it can be difficult to fight the urge to stay cozy at home and hibernate all winter. My mom always made an effort to get me and my brothers out of the house when we were kids and we had designated holiday traditions. One was going to listen to the choir at our church’s late night Christmas Eve service, and another was going to see The Nutcracker at the Fox Theatre. Listening to the choir sing so beautifully in a room illuminated only by candles was mesmerizing, as was seeing delicate ballerinas dance with razor sharp precision to a sweeping orchestra. Movement and music are art forms that can be enjoyed by all.

I had the pleasure of talking to dance students Cait Belland, Ella Barr and Lauren Ciccolini. The three dance majors are seniors at Interlochen Arts Academy and fell in love with dance at an early age. Interlochen’s dance major teaches multiple dance styles, but has a focus on ballet. Ballet is a notoriously demanding art form that requires students to train often.

“I wanted to be able to continue a rigorous academic schedule and in order to do that I had to figure out how I was going to incorporate my dance schedule. Everything began to pile up on one another and I knew I’d be up late doing homework and stuff so it was going to be really complicated. I wanted to find a place where I could be able to do both at a rigorous level, and this was the place.” Caitlin said.

Inerlochen’s dance program was an answer to the frenzied schedule of maintaining school and dance classes separately. The students dance from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on school days and all of that work pays off. Dance students are able to dance productions, including The Nutcracker during the holidays. Being able to dance in staged shows is a rewarding and inspiring experience for students.

“Last year my partner for Swan Lake for my part was one of my best friends and dancing with him was one of the most fun things. We’d come off the stage smiling,” Lauren said.

The Nutcracker isn’t possible without the enchanting accompaniment, and is naturally performed with the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. Khaia Smith is a violinist studying music at the arts academy. Khaia has gone back and forth on what style of music she likes to play most, going back and forth between classical and jazz.

“I actually hated classical and then I went through a few programs and fell in love with classical so that’s the route I went down. I’m like 98% classical, I still love that improv from jazz,” Khaia said. She loves music, but she has fallen in love with conducting as a student at the arts academy, so much so that it’s what she would ultimately like to do.

“My dream is to be a conductor, actually. It’s a newfound dream, I never thought I’d want to do anything besides be a violinist.”

A student doesn’t have to play an instrument to study music at the arts academy. The singer-songwriter program incorporates a different side of music. Students take classes like music business and recording production. Where music majors may aspire to go to conservatory and eventually play in professional orchestra, singer-songwriter majors are interested in more mainstream music.

“The dream is to get signed by a major label and go on tour, have fans, the whole thing. That’s everyone’s main dream I guess but for me, I’d wanna be able to work with anyone I want. Like, to be able to call up Beyonce and say ‘do you wanna sing together?’ that’d be cool,” singer-songwriter major Emma Kirsch said.

Composing music is a part of the curriculum, as well as lyric writing. 

For students who study multiple disciplines there is the comparative arts major. Comparative arts allows students to study multiple art forms.

“Let’s say this person loves to sing, and also loves to draw so that’s why there are comparative artists. They can’t pick one over the other,” comparative arts student Betty Zing said.

Comparative art students are given daily studio time to work on projects. Betty studies music at the school along with visual arts, songwriting and dance. 

“It’s given me such a good opportunity to be in classes that are in multiple art areas. We have all these choices,” she said.

Interlochen Arts Academy offers students an arts education like none other and offers the northern Michigan community high quality and beautiful art to appreciate. See the orchestra in action tonight at their Masterworks performance, a performance by the comparative arts December 6th, and for a fun way to celebrate the holidays make sure to check out The Nutcracker

Categories: GTPulse