January 8, 2010
Division of Fine and Performing Arts Builds on Tradition of Producing Successful Artists
Mary Fleischer, Ph. D.,
Chair of the Division of Fine and Performing Arts, (212) 774-0761, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Langan, B.A.,
Chair of the Dance Department, (212) 517-0611, email@example.com
Andrew Warshaw, M.F.A.,
Associate Professor of Music and Dance, (212) 774-0772, firstname.lastname@example.org
George Berry, M.S.,
Public Relations Specialist, (212) 517-0461, email@example.com
New York, NY – If you are going to a Broadway show, you are likely to experience the work of Marymount Manhattan College (MMC) alumni. Both on stage and behind the scenes, MMC graduates fill a variety of roles in productions, such as Dreamgirls, The Lion King, Billy Elliott and many others. MMC’s theatre, music and dance programs, overseen by Mary Fleischer, Ph.D., chair of the Division of Fine and Performing Arts, prepare students to succeed in the artistic community.
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During fall 2009, As You Like It featured Melissa Benoist ’11 as Rosalind and Erica Knight ’10 as Celia.
Fleischer began her Marymount Manhattan tenure more than 30 years ago as managing director of The Theresa Lang Theatre, which was then an off-Broadway venue. At the time, the theatre arts program enrolled approximately 50 students and served mainly to foster an appreciation for the art. Today, the program draws from an annual applicant pool of approximately 1,000 prospective students, from which it accepts 300, and trains students for roles in all facets of professional theatre.
“The theatre arts program at MMC is a working lab,” Fleischer said. “Students can take on a variety of responsibilities and roles, both on stage and behind the scenes.”
In collaboration with the late Professor Emeritus J. William Bordeau, Fleischer has advanced the theatre arts program to include two distinct degree tracks: the Bachelor of Arts in theatre arts and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting. The theatre arts major includes a core curriculum and six available concentrations: design and technical production, directing, producing and management, theatre performance, theatre studies and writing for the stage. The acting program prepares students for careers as performers. The theatre arts program offers minors in musical theatre, drama therapy and arts management.
In addition to filling out an application, students must also participate in an extensive audition and interview process, before they are accepted into the theatre arts program.
“Instead of auditioning students individually, we run the audition day as a class day,” Fleischer said. “We start the day with an info session, and then break out into groups of 20 with two or more faculty members for each group. We lead them through a class that includes a full vocal and physical warm-up, presenting their monologues, coaching of selected monologues and a group interview.”
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During the 2008 Spring Repertoire, Rei Akazawa ’09 and Armando Morales ’12 performed in Martha Graham’s Helen & Paris duet.
Associate Professor of Music and Dance Andrew Warshaw, M.F.A., has developed a music minor over his nine years at the College. The minor is a growing program that features courses in music scholarship, musicianship and creative production.
Students in the music minor program work frequently with their theatre and dance colleagues. Sound design students assist professional recording engineers and provide audio for theatre productions at the College. Songwriting students compose musical scores for MMC’s Dancers at Work (D.A.W.) choreography showcases, and frequently perform their works in main stage productions. Student musicians also provide accompaniment for dance classes, and have formed ensembles to perform both at events both on and off campus.
“The collaboration of the theatre, dance and music programs is at its highest level to date,” Warshaw said.
Katie Langan ’92, B.A., has witnessed widespread growth throughout her 21-year affiliation with the MMC dance department.
Langan has served as chairwoman of the dance department for 10 years and has expanded the dance curriculum to include four areas of concentration in both Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in dance and Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in dance degree programs. The B.A. offers tracks in teaching dance arts; dance studies; body, science and motion (with optional biology minor) and dance and media. The B.F.A. curriculum includes options in ballet, modern dance, choreography and jazz. Both programs offer a balance of focused dance training and a well-rounded liberal arts curriculum.
“We believe strongly in the liberal arts education, alongside the rigorous ‘conservatory’ training,” Langan said.
Dance department auditions are also extensive. Each year, 400 to 500 prospective students participate in an all-day process consisting of performance of ballet barre, condensed center, modern phrase and jazz phrase dance styles. Students who pass the first round present a solo performance, then interview with dance faculty. The department accepts between 100 and 200 students each year.
Recent dance alumni perform on Broadway and with renowned dance companies. Alumni include Sevin Ceviker '04 (dancer with Martha Graham Dance Company), Laura Diffenderder '02 (editor of Dancer Magazine and artistic director of Oh Dear Dance Theatre), Abby Silva '02 and Sarah Braverman '08 (dancers with Parsons Dance), Janine LoPresti '99 (owner of LoPresti Dance Theatre), Claire McKeveny '04 (dancer with Les Grands Ballet de Montreal), Dennis O'Bannion '06 (Irving Berlin's White Christmas), Kate O'Connell '09 (dancer with Celebrity Cruiselines), Joshua Tuason '08 (dancer with Stephen Petronio Dance Company).
The MMC dance department has brought many high-caliber guest artists to the College including choreographers Robert Battle, Susan Marshall, Mark Morris, David Parsons, Edwaard Liang and Stephen Petronio.
“The dance department currently houses 170 dance majors, up from approximately 65 students 10 years ago,” Langan said. “Today, the dance department sits in a very competitive place and is known both nationally and internationally.”
To learn more about MMC's theatre arts program, call (212) 774-0760 or visit http://marymount.mmm.edu/study/programs/dfpa/theatrearts/interv.html.
To learn more about MMC’s dance department call (212) 517-0610 or visit http://marymount.mmm.edu/study/programs/dfpa/dance/index.html.
Marymount Manhattan College is an urban, independent, liberal arts college. The mission of the College is to educate a socially and economically diverse student body by fostering intellectual achievement and personal growth and by providing opportunities for career development.