Students celebrate success as artists in exceptional UBC fine arts program
Sometimes small and nimble trumps the notion that bigger is better. Just ask this budding group of students taking to the world’s stage. UBC’s Okanagan campus will see the first-ever graduating class from its Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Interdisciplinary Performance program at Thursday’s Convocation ceremonies.
The group of five graduates pioneered the study of interdisciplinary performance in the Okanagan. Kevin Jesuino says the last thing he wanted was “a cookie-cutter” education. The attraction for him in coming to UBC from hometown Edmonton is that the Interdisciplinary Performance program is unique, with students helping shape the program and its teaching, in collaboration with professors.
“I knew the new Interdisciplinary Performance program would allow me to get a wide range of personalized training,” says Jesuino, who has been in Portugal on an internship with a dance and theatre festival.
“And entering in 2010 would allow me to be part of the first graduating class in 2013. It was the perfect program for me.”
The Interdisciplinary Performance program (INTP) offers students an unmatched combination of courses in performance creation, visual arts, and creative writing. Neil Cadger, department head of Creative Studies, says the objective is to train students in a variety of skills across the conventional boundaries of art disciplines.
“This all started as an idea,” Cadger says. “We wanted to expose our students to every single aspect of live performance.”
As part of their training, students study movement and voice, improvisation, mask performance, ensemble work, solo, and collaborative performance creation. They are also required to study within the BFA Visual Arts studio program, taking classes in sculpture and installation art, digital media arts, and drawing and painting. In Creative Writing, students study poetry, playwriting, short story composition, screenwriting, and other genres including interdisciplinary collaborative art forms.
Graduate Scott Mendonca, who departed the Okanagan in May for auditions in Europe, picked the program because he knew it would provide the well-rounded education he was looking for.
“I like that it is different and ground-breaking and is the only program like it in Canada,” says Mendonca. “It provides the tools to teach the artist to devise theatre by creating original work in a collaborative setting and by doing so, it forces the artist to open their mind, and think critically about the creation of work, all at the same time.”
Cadger began the performance program at UBC in 2005, and introduced the enhanced INTP program in 2010. While many North American performance programs focus specifically on the role of the actor, Cadger and colleagues Virginie Magnat and Denise Kenney aim to send creative performing artists out into the world as graduates who can conceive, design, produce, and perform live art.
“We teach our students that the Visual Arts are as important as Creative Writing and that Creative Writing is as important as Performance,” Cadger says. “Students go through the program and graduate with the knowledge to run a small theatre company – and that includes marketing, managing the bills, hiring artists, and creating the performance event. These students get it all.”