What’s new with the Performing Arts Go Virtual class this semester?

Visual and performing arts are a critical part of our society—they’re part of what makes us human. We’re inspired by the dedication of the faculty and students. COVID-19 has brought us difficulties, but also has provided us with many more opportunities. But what exactly has changed since this pandemic? We talked with Professor Matt Pardo—who teaches our Performing Arts Go Virtual to find out.

Interview

 

 

Matt Pardo,
Professor, Arts Innovations

JMU X-Labs: How has the class changed from fall semester, if at all?

Matt: The Sophomore Studio Spring ’21 cohort is bringing fresh new energy to the class. Though the design of the course has shifted subtly to better expose students to the collaborative devising process, the essence of the class remains the same. We are thrilled to again be working alongside JMU X-Labs, Anonymous Ensemble, and the Bluescape team. Last semester class went online within the first two weeks of classes and required last-minute planning. After a semester of collaboration with X-Labs, Anonymous Ensemble, and the Bluescape team, we were able to plan more effectively and confidently, which allowed for more creativity in the class structure.

JMU X-Labs: How have you incorporated Bluescape into your curriculum?

Matt: We are currently utilizing Bluescape as a design platform and require that the students develop their projects in this virtual space. The students will be engaging this technology for the first time on March 18th, when they will receive training from the Bluescape team. From there, they will build collaborative projects on this platform, allowing the students to reimagine the way they can implement projects from the ground up.

A huge thank you for JMU X-Labs’ help and support! These experiences have been and continue to be incredible for the students and will radically help us redefine the artistic landscape as educators, performers, and makers.

Matt Pardo Professor, Arts Innovations

JMU X-Labs: What’s the most exciting thing about the class this semester?

Matt: It is fascinating watching students of this generation, who are virtual natives, learn about and respond to new technology. This cohort, similar to our last, has responded so well to the technological challenges that have arisen around the idea of designing, building, and performing live-virtual artistic collaborative pieces. It has been so wonderful to watch them engage the technology that will help them redefine the artistic landscape. We have worked hard to have this devising class focus not only on process and product but also on the platform. This third “p” has allowed us to continue to work with the students on standard devising practices, but in a way that engages relevant and up-coming practices

It is so exciting working with students on what may be the future of artistic devising and performance. We are currently utilizing Bluescape as a design platform and require that the students develop their projects in this virtual space. The students will be engaging this technology for the first time on March 18th, when they will receive training from the Bluescape team. From there, they will build collaborative projects on this platform, allowing the students to reimagine the way they can implement projects from the ground up.

Besides, as teachers, we learned so much in the fall semester that expanded our thinking about devising online and in person. Our collaborators have been our teachers in expanding our approach to the class structure and the knowledge around online collaboration and performance. The course will be forever changed by the collaborations we have explored this year.

JMU X-Labs: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Matt: Just a huge thank you for JMU X-Labs’ help and support! These experiences have been and continue to be incredible for the students and will radically help us redefine the artistic landscape as educators, performers, and makers. When we started in the fall semester, we had no idea what would happen! Our risk-taking was supported by so many remarkable individuals. Without the suggestion to connect with X-Labs from Professor Sean McCarthy and the support from Nick Swayne, Emily Winter, and Kim Fisher and the entire X-Labs team, Dave Swope and the Bluescape team, and every member of Anonymous Ensemble, all of us in Sophomore Studio would not have had the dynamic, creative and complex experiences this entire 2020-21 year!

Published March 15, 2021 by Helen Nguyen

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