Choreography, Composition, and Collaboration with East Lansing High School

Department of Theatre Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre Brad Willcuts and East Lansing High School (ELHS) Visual Arts Instructor Jacqueline Carroll have brought their students together in a unique collaboration to bring words and movement to life.

“So infrequently do high school writing assignments leave the hands of student or teacher. Often, students end up wondering: ‘Why did I even do this? Why does this matter?” Carroll said. “This collaboration gave students an opportunity to see how others (cool college students, that is) interpreted their work, allowing them to step back and realize that their words have energy and importance.”

East Lansing High School students wrote stories based on the theme of their time in “quarantine” and their classmates then recorded vocal performances of the stories. Michigan State University students enrolled in the Choreography and Composition class (DAN 354) worked as choreographers and performers to interpret the spoken words through dance. The collaboration culminated in a virtual “show and tell” day with everyone.

The project provided some much-needed artistic expression and human connection during the isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It felt like a real-life artistic collaboration again when we were able to work with another school,” Willcuts said. “Jacqui did an awesome job of setting up the get-to-know you section of the day between college students and high school students. We had a blast getting to share all of our videos with one another. I know my students really enjoyed this project.”

One piece in particular, entitled “The Day It All Began,” was written by Emmerson Davis to capture the moment that ELHS students learned that Michigan State University was shifting its classes from in-person to online. Dance student and junior Psychology major, Olivia Walters, filmed her interpretation of the work in the now empty halls of East Lansing High School. After viewing the final video, the feedback from students revealed the piece as successfully capturing that day, with one student saying, “This expressed exactly how I felt when I heard the news.”

Written by: Michigan State University
Please visit here to read the original article and view all seven pieces.

Founded in 1978, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) focuses on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity. Among the many activities and networking opportunities that CUR provides, the organization also offers support for the professional growth of faculty and administrators through expert-designed institutes, conferences, and a wide-range of volunteer positions. The CUR community, made up of nearly 700 institutions and 13,000 individuals, continues to provide a platform for discussion and other resources related to mentoring, connecting, and creating relationships centered around undergraduate research. CUR’s advocacy efforts are also a large portion of its work as they strive to strengthen support for undergraduate research. Its continued growth in connections with representatives, private foundations, government agencies, and campuses world-wide provides value to its members and gives voice to undergraduate research. CUR is committed to inclusivity and diversity in all of its activities and our community.

CUR focuses on giving a voice to undergraduate research with learning through doing. It provides connections to a multitude of campuses and government agencies, all while promoting networking and professional growth to its community.