Students create spectacular "Nutcracker" work through collaborative arts
Collaboration with artists from many disciplines sets the UNCSA School of Dance apart. And nowhere at University of North Carolina School of the Arts is that collaboration in the spotlight more evident than at the school’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.”
“The Nutcracker” involves hundreds of students from the Schools of Dance, Design & Production and Music, creating a collaborative arts atmosphere across campus in studios, backstage and even in dorm rooms.
For dancers, this collaborative arts setting is truly a singular way to learn their craft.
“That’s part of the magic of this school,” says Jared Redick, Assistant Dean of Ballet and “The Nutcracker” director. “These are student-led productions at a professional level. Students are doing all of the work. That is what’s so unique about UNCSA. To live in that creativity all of the time is a powerful opportunity for students to view their own artform through a different lens.”
These are student-led productions at a professional level. Students are doing all of the work. That is what’s so unique about UNCSA. To live in that creativity all of the time is a powerful opportunity for students to view their own artform through a different lens.
Erik Kim and Jacque Hodek, high school seniors who have danced in multiple productions of “The Nutcracker,” and Luke Woods, a college senior and stage manager of the production, have all learned from their work on the show over the last few years.
Here are a few ways working on the ultimate collaborative arts project has shaped their experience as artists:
Collaboration gives you an appreciation for other arts
“It is so special that the same people I work with are the ones I see in the academic hall or in my dorm,” Kim says. His roommate is fourth chair horn in this year’s “Nutcracker” and he sees Woods often during rehearsals, taking notes, planning and making schedules.
“I felt a sort of kinship with him, as we both were developing students, working together as if we were professionals,” he adds. “In all of these experiences, I have learned that ‘Nutcracker’ is not just about the dancing.”
Woods and the Stage Management team attend all rehearsals. “We are always with the dancers, working to enable them to hone their art,” he says. “I have learned how to look out for dancers and how to communicate with them to express my needs and help them with theirs. I’ve found a new appreciation of the hard work and perseverance it takes to create their beauty and grace onstage.”
Working together prepares you for the professional world
For Woods, the show has challenged him professionally and personally—and taken him in unexpected directions. “The collaboration with the School of Dance completely revolutionized my path at UNCSA,” he says. “I began my time here never having worked on a dance production, and now it’s one of my career goals.”
“Working with everyone is always so fun to me. ‘Nutcracker’ is basically one big collaboration that we all come together to do,” says Hodek. “It’s taught me how the profession works, how the theater works and how to work with each other.”