Oliver Blank (left) partners with Director of Comparative Arts Nicola Conraths-Lange (right) during an exercise.
Comparative arts students participate in a "three compliments" activity.
Comparative arts students complete an exercise about human connectedness.
Jimenez and Blank (foreground) lead an exercise.
Blank and Jimenez are co-founders of Outside, a human-centered design agency that seeks to design and create objects that will reduce suffering, encourage peace and increase health and well-being. Jimenez and Blank have previously worked with Google, UNICEF, Thought Works, Lego and UNHCR, among others.
During the two-week residency, the students worked with Blank and Jimenez to develop a concept for an arts-related mobile application that would be produced by and for the Interlochen community.
The students also spent time exploring physical and emotional well-being, as fostering such feelings in the audience is a key component of Jimenez and Blank’s work. Blank and Jimenez led the students in a variety of exercises designed to help them connect with themselves and others.
The young artists also continued work on their personal annual projects, which will be presented in an end-of-year showcase on May 17.
A comparative arts student shares her final project idea with the class.
Comparative artists enjoy snacks while listening to their classmates' presentations.
A comparative arts student shares his final project idea.
Following several successful performances of the original play Kenzoku, comparative arts students shifted their focus to their end-of-year projects.
Each student will create their own individual project for the May 17 showcase. In the weeks following Kenzoku, the students brainstormed ideas and began writing proposals for their projects. The students have also been studying painting with Visual Arts Instructor Peter Abrami and learning about the psychology of the artist.
Two comparative artists enact a scene from Kenzoku.
A scene from Kenzoku.
Cast members perform one of the musical numbers from Kenzoku.
A comparative arts student performs on silks during Kenzoku.
Students perform the final musical number of Kenzoku.
View the full performance of Kenzoku.
On Feb. 15 and 16, Comparative Arts students presented their original play, Kenzoku.
Students had been developing the play since the beginning of the school year, studying and incorporating a variety of artforms into their creation, including animation, playwriting, electronic music, acting and dance. The finished project became a blend of original music, choreography and animation created by the students.
The performance featured two of the guest artists who collaborated with the students during the year: DJ Salar Ansari and Oscar-winning musician Luis Resto. Ansari and Resto provided music for and played small roles in the play.
Kenzoku takes place in a dystopian future in which humans have forgotten the secrets of friendship. In this climate of uncertainty, laboratory workers accidentally hatch the friendship egg, Kenzoku, by playing music on vintage instruments. The lab technicians are forced to rediscover the keys to friendship as they struggle to keep the hatchling Kenzoku alive.
The students also gave a special encore performance of Kenzoku as a part of the Winterlochen festival on Feb. 17.
Official artwork for "Eclectica" by Zi Ting "Betty" Ling.
On Dec. 8, Comparative Arts students presented their final showcase of the semester, “Eclectica.”
Directed by Jamie John, the interdisciplinary performance featured original works by Comparative Arts students spanning the genres of film, radio, writing, dance, theatre, and vocal and instrumental music. The performance included a pre-show video installation by Jamie John; a sculpture by Mello Henderson; short “vox pop” radio segments; an original song by Jade Parker, Elof Loelv and Mikky Ekko; and monologues by Gabriel Kennis, Jericho Zornes, Simon Steinorth and Taia Koker, among others.
After the performance, the students mingled with their guests over light refreshments in the lobby of Phoenix Theatre.
Salar Ansari leads a tour of Detroit.
Salar Ansari and the comparative arts students visit the Underground Resistance recording studio.
Several concept sketches of Kenzoku.
On Nov. 3-4, comparative arts students traveled to Detroit, Michigan to present their first performances of Kenzoku.
The students gave two readings of the play — still a work-in-progress — at Luis Resto’s loft in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market. The students also had the opportunity to visit the Underground Resistance recording studio as a part of their study of the history of electronic music. The trip concluded with a visit to Flint, Michigan.
When the students returned from the trip, alumnus Don Dixon visited campus to teach animation and help develop the character of Kenzoku.
Instructor of Comparative Arts Nicola Conraths-Lange works on music for Kenzoku with several students.
Luis Resto teaches a student how to use an electronic instrument.
A student plays an eletronic instrument during rehearsal.
Students from the singer-songwriter and guitar programs are collaborating with the comparative arts students on Kenzoku's music.
Comparative Arts started off their semester with residencies by three guest artists.
Former Director of Creative Writing Anne-Marie Oomen was the first guest to arrive. Oomen will be working with students throughout the semester to develop the script for their February performance, Kenzoku. As Kenzoku will feature the theme of friendship, Oomen began by having the students share stories about their own friendships. The students then discussed factors that facilitate and endanger friendships. The students also began writing lyrics for the show’s theme song.
Later in September, Interlochen Arts Academy alumnus Luis Resto and his frequent collaborator, Salar Ansari, arrived. Resto and Ansari, like Oomen, will be working with the students throughout the semester, and are helping them create electronic music for the performance. Resto and Ansari began by teaching the students about the history of electronic music. They also taught the students the basics of playing various electronic instruments. Resto and Ansari will return during Inter*mester to teach a two-week course on synthesizers.
Visit the Comparative Arts Facebook Page to stay up-to-date on these ongoing projects.
A student performs during year-end Comparative Arts performances.
A group of students present a scene from "[ ]"
One of the Comparative Arts students' year-end projects.
Two late-May performances rounded out our 2017 Comparative Arts academic year projects. On Thursday, May 18, an audience gathered in Phoenix Auditorium for “[ ].” This cumulative performance included projects developed by Comparative Arts students throughout the semester, including fashion design, music, video and music. It also hosted the world premiere of A/P#1 by Interlochen Center for the Arts guest artist Ilya Vidrin.
A second run of “[ ]” will be held on Friday, May 26 for our Festival guests to enjoy.
Michael Kaufmann speaks with Comparative Arts students during Friday's presentations.
During the week of April 10, Comparative Arts students welcomed guest artist Michael Kaufmann, an Indianapolis-based art theorist and artist manager.
Kaufmann took the students to the Open Space Park in downtown Traverse City and challenged them to team up and create theoretical proposals for a public art project for the space. The students had only an hour and a theoretical budget of $250,000 to complete their proposal. At the end of the hour, the four resulting proposals were submitted to three professional artists--Brian McCutcheon, Paula Katz and Richard McCoy--for adjudication.
On Friday afternoon, the students presented their project proposals to each other. Ideas ranged from a historical sculpture with accompanying AR app, a community garden and a skating rink. The winning project was an abstract pavilion designed to cover the existing walkways in the park, leaving the “open space” available for its current uses.
Alumna Alice Klock dances during filming for the Son Lux music video.
After a busy February featuring the performance of Neruda’s Suitcase, Comparative Arts students turned their attention to their next two projects, both of which will premiere in April.
Students put the finishing touches on their Son Lux music video and the accompanying behind-the-scenes video. The Son Lux video will premiere at the Composers Forum on April 15.
Lastly, comparative arts students are beginning to think about and plan their individual, year-end projects.
Comparative Arts students put the finishing touches on their two major projects, Neruda’s Suitcase and a music video for a new song by indie pop artist Son Lux.
The students began work on the Son Lux music video over Inter*mester, and resumed work during the last week of January. Several guest artists joined the students for the project: dancers Jennifer Lott and Alice Klock, Son Lux and videographer and special effects artist Adam Teninbaum. The students also collaborated with students and instructors from Interlochen’s departments of dance, visual arts and music. The final product will be premiered at the Composer’s Forum on April15.
The following week, the students put the finishing touches on Neruda’s Suitcase, which will premiere on Feb. 16. Automaton maker Frank Pahl and Quartet San Francisco violinist Jeremy Cohen returned to campus to lead the music ensembles for the production.
With their two collaborative projects wrapped up, comparative arts students turned their attention to their individual projects, which will be showcased at the end of the academic year.
After a successful performance of “North,” Comparative Arts students continued to develop their April showcase, Neruda’s Suitcase. Two guest artists, Susan Byrnes and Frank Pahl, visited students to lend their talents to the performance. Byrnes, a sculptor, lectured on consumer culture and helped the students build props. Pahl is a self-described “tinkerer” who creates instruments out of unlikely objects. Pahl’s creations will be used to provide music for the April showcase. Byrnes and Pahl’s residencies are supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Comparative arts students are also entering the second stage of the project: staging Neruda’s Suitcase with the assistance of theatre students and faculty.
Son Lux speaks with Comparative Arts students.
Comparative arts hosted two guests in the month of November. Indie composer Son Lux visited campus to teach master classes to students in music composition classes and to compose a piece for Comparative Arts’ April performance.
The other guest, Terri Sarris, is a University of Michigan-based filmmaker. Sarris spent her time on campus collaborating with students to create a 16mm film that will be incorporated into the April performance, Neruda’s Suitcase.
Lastly, Comparative Arts instructor Niki Conraths-Lange, along with Visual Arts chair Mindy Ronayne, presented at the Art Schools Network conference in Dallas, Texas about collaboration and outreach in the Comparative Arts program.
Comparative Arts students on the North Country Trail with Chris Loudenslager.
Comparative Arts students have been busy since the first day of the semester. First, the students welcomed guest artist Ilya Vidrin, who is a dancer, clarinetist and clinical researcher. Vidrin spent several weeks at Interlochen teaching students about movement and the aesthetics of connection.
Later in September, the students took a three-day camping trip on the North Country Trail, accompanied by Vidrin, ecology professor Jenna Scheub, and trail planner Chris Loudenslager. While on the trip, the students continued to explore motion, attaching video cameras to a dancer’s limbs.
Former creative writing instructor Anne Marie Oomen returned to campus in early October to teach playwriting. Oomen helped students develop a play that will be the centerpiece of Comparative Arts’ 2016-17 showcase. The students took advantage of every moment of Oomen’s visit, working with her backstage at “Collage” while waiting for their turn to perform.
Pictured above are several of the iron tiles created during our Earth Day celebration iron pour event. These tiles are the result of a long and arduous process that ultimately mirrors the one we explore as artists on a daily basis.
With hard work, persistence and dedication, we forge our talents into something much stronger. Moving an idea from thought to creation teaches us a lot about ourselves, our craft and how we work with others.
Join us on May 27 at 2 p.m. in Phoenix Theatre for the collaborative music, visual art, theatre and dance performance event known as "Forged." "Forged" aims to "melt" assumptions about mental illness, poverty, cyberbullying, body image, duality and coming out through art.
Composer Paul Rudy recently visited Interlochen and spent time with our academic classes, Academy Band and our Comparative Arts students. The following is a guest blog from Rudy about his meditation session with our Comparative Arts students.
In Comparative Arts, we began by listening to a crystal singing bowl. Sound meditation leads to a place of deep inner listening: listening not just with the ears, but with the whole body. I encourage the students to feel the vibration wherever it lands: on their skin, in their bones, or maybe in their watery parts. We added toning, a technique of just humming or singing softly, again with the awareness of where their own voice vibrates their body. By the end of this toning we were singing in such beautiful resonance with each other, and as often happens, ended together without prompting. We finished with some exercises to bring in some energy: imitating sounds the body makes naturally, the most powerful of which is laughter. Laugher turns the area around the heart into a drum, and drums move a LOT of energy! We finished with an exercise where the students close their ears with the palms of their hands, and tone. This helps them hear their "fundamental" tone (actually a sine wave!), which is the most powerful component of the human voice. Students reported varied and individual experiences from their skeletons being rattled to intense sensations in various parts of their bodies.
The 2015-16 Comparative Arts program’s continued exploration of Brazil will gain an exciting new component with the opening of BANDITS & HEROES, POETS & SAINTS – Popular Art From the Northeast of Brazil on campus in early April. This traveling exhibition uses little known art from the region to explore how European, African and indigenous American cultures intermingled over centuries to produce the Brazilian culture as we know it today.
The 22-crate exhibition comes in three segments: The Land and its People, Expressions of Faith and Poetry, Celebration and Song—each exploring specific aspects of the peoples and cultures that formed the menagerie of Brazilian culture.
This exhibition of nearly 200 works of art by more than 50 artists is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Michigan Humanities Council.
Come April, BANDITS & HEROES, POETS & SAINTS – Popular Art From the Northeast of Brazil will challenge students to explore the similarities that parallel Brazil with the history and culture of the United States. By doing so, this introspection through exploration embodies the mission of the Interlochen Arts Academy Comparative Arts Program.
More information on the exhibition, location, dates and times coming soon.
Group photo in front of "Hitsville U.S.A." in Detroit, Mich.
Boom! in Detroit.
Boom! in Detroit.
Boom! in Detroit.
Prep for Boom! Mics, Music & Modern War in Phoenix Auditorium.
Last month, students traveled across the state and met with Interlochen alumnus and Academy Award winner Luis Resto in his Detroit loft as part of their prep work for Boom! Mics, Music & Modern War. The trip included an abbreviated Boom! performance featuring dancers from Wayne State University in front of a live audience.
Lastly, our students visited the Motown Museum (nicknamed "Hitsville U.S.A.") and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Those in Interlochen can catch a full performance of Boom! Mics, Music & Modern War in Phoenix Auditorium on Feb. 18 and 19. Go to tickets.interlochen.org for tickets.
This week, Jamie Innis from UpNorthLive News featured the Arts Academy comparative arts program in her ongoing segment about the best and brightest of Interlochen. You can read her report on UpNorthLive.com or watch the video feature above.
A Comparative Arts student works on an Enso project during a visit from poet and alumna Holly Wren Spaulding.
Spaulding, above, spoke to the Comparative Arts students about Enso and other Zen art forms.
Poet and alumna Holly Wren Spaulding led a workshop on Zen arts, and sculptor Susan Byrnes and Interlochen physics instructor Taoufik Nadji lectured on tesselation and Islamic art.
Our December show, Enso, held a preview showing on Dec. 3 at noon for 100 Interlochen-area elementary schoolchildren, and premiered at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in the Phoenix Theatre.
Sofia Constantine and Adlir Linsemann created this pure, simple and heartfelt rendition of a Motown classic.
Comparative Arts and Music students are in Seattle
Montserrat Guerra-Solano at the EMP in Seattle
The Seattle skyline
The adventure begins! Comparative Arts and Music majors arrive to perform in Seattle at the Arts Schools Network conference.
This Capoeira-inspired choreography was originally created for Jennifer McQuiston Lott and Michael Spencer Philips in NYC, June 2015. In the fall of 2015 Comparative Arts Division Director Nicola Conraths Lange was able to restage it with Ella Dorman and Mark Lambert, dance majors at the Interlochen Arts Academy. The score was composed by Dan Reckard after a midnight ski on Green Lake and therefore titled Lago Verdje, recorded at IPR by the Jazz Combo. Lighting by Patti Ferguson.
Detroit-based Academy Award-winner Luis Resto, who has produced music for Eminem, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and more, works with Interlochen Arts Academy Comparative Arts students during their visit to Detroit in September 2015.
Comparative Arts students check out murals in Detroit.
A quick update on the CompArts doings this fall.
Comparative Arts had several guest artists in this month. We visited Academy Award-winner Luis Resto in his downtown loft in Detroit. Leo Gillis gave a presentation about microphones and how they work,
We also completed our first artistic response to our Detroit trip, titled Spirit of Detroit. The 6-minute installation perfomance will be presented at the Interlochen Elementary School, Pathfinder School and possibly at senior centers in town.
Kim Le Blanc from Interlochen Center for the Arts' technology department started the 3D printing “microphones of the future” class with Comparative Arts students. Sally Eisele, general manager of Interlochen Public Radio, is beginning to gather ideas for a Detroit-inspired broadcast with the students.
Taylor Lundeen, Symposium
The Academic Symposium and "Pandora's Box"
Spring time means annual projects for our upper class men and women. Each year, juniors and seniors of the Comparative Arts department work on an individual project over a longer period of time. The creative process can be frustrating and exhilarating in equal measure as the students navigate the endless choices, details and coordination required to transform vision into reality. This year, the annual projects were split into two events: the Academic Symposium and our performance, "Pandora's Box." The Symposium, titled "Artists Speak," provided an academic venue to complement the artistic creation. Our young artists showed themselves in a scholarly light, presenting their research on a variety of exciting topics from history to business, social justice to the brain, empathy to hunger. "Pandora's Box" was entirely written, produced, and performed by the department in collaboration with other majors from theatre, music, and dance.
As we wrap up this year, I look back on all that has been experienced, discussed, and created. It is bittersweet to see our post-graduates and seniors leave Interlochen, but I am so proud of their accomplishments and wish them well as they join new communities of artists and scholars at their Universities and Colleges.
Hopefully you have already seen this, but I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to enjoy this great video version of "Fabergé Egg." As you may recall, we performed this piece during Parents weekend in the fall. This winter, we worked with Interlochen's video team to stage a performance for the cameras. Not only was it fun to peform this again, the students had a chance to be involved in a major video production.
The video starts with an introduction by guest composer Joseph Murfin and the students performance starts about 45 seconds in. We hope you enjoy it!
At the Lyric Opera in Chicago.
Our comparative arts students just returned from a great art-filled trip to Chicago. We all dressed up for a night out at the Lyric Opera, where we took in Puccini's Tosca. We also spent time at the amazing Art Institute of Chicago and took in a performance by the Brazilian dance group, Grupo Corpo. We all enjoyed the chance to get off campus and enjoy the sites and sounds of the Windy City.
We are getting very excited by our upcoming performance of "Heart and Art" on February 19 and 20 - and so are our partners at Munson Medical Center. They even featured our collaboration in a great article in their newsletter this month. Thank you Munson for your involvement on this totally original performance! Here is the article.
Take an echocardiography machine from Munson Medical Center’s Webber Family Heart Center, add a jazz combo, silk screen print artists, a few singer songwriters and one has a recipe for an intriguing evening of entertainment. “Heart and Art” will debut at Interlochen Arts Academy’s Phoenix Theatre at 7:30 pm on Feb. 19 and 20 with one act involving music students jamming to their own heartbeats, and potentially the heart rhythm provided by a member of the audience.
“The evening merges science, music, improvisation, poetry, and lighting design, all embedded in a humor ous, whimsical play that speaks to factual and symbolic metaphors surrounding the heart,” said Nicola Conraths-Lange, Interlochen director of Comparative Arts. The “Heart and Art” performances developed out of an inspiration to merge medicine and the arts after a friend of Conraths-Lange developed a heart problem. Conraths-Lange called Munson cardiologist Brian Jaffe, MD, FACC, whose children had graduated from the academy.
“I contacted Dr. Jaffe about what we wanted to do and he told me about the echocardiography machine,” she said. “We took a field trip to the hospital and students were hooked up to the machine. During that visit we also took an audio recording of the heartbeat of each student.”
Back at Interlochen, physics instructor Taoufik Nadji helped students put those audio recordings through a sonogram application that turned the beats into sound waves that were digitally displayed and then turned into analog screen prints. “On a second field trip to the hospital we listened to hearts that had a pathology and hearts that were regular. I brought the Interlochen Jazz Combo directed by Bill Sears to Munson and they improvised to their own heartbeats,” she said.
During one set, a saxophonist was hooked up to the machine and the double-bass player started improvising to his friend’s heartbeat. The echocardiogram then showed the saxophonist’s heartbeat appear to synch up to the instrument. Jazz saxophonist Raef Sengupta, who composes jazz, said his contribution to the night will be a collaboration with fellow student and classical composter Jose Salinas that fuses the genres.
“We are hoping that our piece will achieve a good blend of both,” he said. “The most exciting part was attempting to create a piece that not only created the heartbeat into the song itself, but also used it as a central theme in the expression of the piece. We created different sections in order to portray a universal pattern of life.”
Heart and Art also will include a lobby exhibition that displays poetry and visual art of student artists who transformed their own heart beats into vibrant works of art.
One part of the performance will feature Dr. Jaffe and Munson echo sonographer Karen Zimmerman, BS, RDCS (AE, PE), RVT, measuring performer’s heartbeats on stage, in real time. Dr. Jaffe also will play a conga drum. “By teaching the Interlochen kids just a little about the heart, heart sounds, and giving them access to echo images, they have unleashed all sorts of incredibly creative art,” Dr. Jaffe said. “What a great collaboration, and who knows, maybe one of these young artists will become an even better artist, or physician, nurse, or echo technician.”
Interlochen Public Radio just posted a great story about "Heart and Art" project. Not only are our students learning so much from the creative process of producing "Heart and Art," they are also learning how to tell their story to the media. You can listen to the story here.
The comparative arts students are working toward our installation/performance titled "Heart and Art" on February 20 in the Phoenix Theatre. A field trip to the cardiology unit at Munson Medical Center allowed us to see each other's heartbeats on a huge monitor and get a glimpse of the inner workings of this amazing organ.
During the Inter*mester, Joe Murfin led Interlochen students in an exciting class on Brazilian samba. Students learned to play traditional Brazilian drums such as the pandeiro, the rebolo, and the tamborim, while studying the instrumental rhythms associated with samba music. Students also took Portuguese lessons with Dan Reckard and learned how to sing and play a variety of traditional Brazilian samba songs. In addition, Dr. Jennifer Trowbridge lent her expertise in guitar by working with the ensemble's guitarists and playing the cavaquinho, a small ukelele-type instrument used in samba. The students brought a tremendous amount of energy and excitement to class each day and by the end of the two weeks, the group had already performed three samba shows in various venues on the Interlochen campus.
Heart and Art is a collaboration between three programs at Interlochen Arts Academy: comparative arts, music and physics. Together, we partnered with the Munson Medical Center in Traverse City for a multi-faceted exploration. First, we examined heart physiology and pathology as an academic subject, covering anatomical and functional information. We used this as a jumping off point to study universal themes of love and death, addressed through poetry, musical composition and performance.
The Comparative Arts performance on February 20, 2015 will feature a live demonstration of the heart echograph, showing improvisation of our Jazz musicians on their own, healthy, heartbeats. A composition major is also creating a chamber music score that the group will play to the sound of the composer's heartbeat in real time.
The Entropy Project in 2012.
We have embarked on an exciting new collaborative project called "Seed to Symphony." In many ways, the journey is a continuation of an art project that began a couple years ago. In the fall of 2012, we took an old piano outside and exposed it to the elements for nine months. As the piano became increasingly weathered, it inspired dances, compositions, poems, and discussions about art. In our new effort, we are reversing the process: the exterior of the piano has been restored and placed in the library, and we are now bringing nature into our art, creating a terrarium inside the piano. The plants that grow will be a "blueprint" for a new musical score that will be presented on April 18, 2015.