Brown Bag Dance Series Is Back This Week

February 28, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Christine Jonas

Meadows’ Dancers Perform at Brown Bag Dance Series from on Vimeo.

The spring Brown Bag Dance Series will kick off today, February 28 at noon in the Lobby of the Bob Hope Theatre in the Owen Arts Center.

The Brown Bag Dance Series is a student run dance performance held each semester, where the students choreograph, plan and set up each dance. There is one faculty advisor that oversees everything, but really leaves it up to the students.

“I am beyond impressed with them. It is a great opportunity for them to figure out how to audition, select dancers, schedule rehearsals and create new and exciting work,” says Professor Danny Buraczeski, the faculty advisor for the upcoming series.

The series runs daily for a week with lunchtime shows at noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Admission is free.

There are typically 10-15 performances in each show, featuring all kinds of dance like ballet, modern and jazz.

“This time there are 10 performances and this series is really diverse. We are doing a hip-hop dance, a musical theater dance, two pointe ballet pieces and a contemporary piece,” says Brianna O’Connor, a sophomore SMU dance student who will be in the upcoming Brown Bag.

With different students choreographing new pieces every semester, this series never gets old—keeping the audience intrigued every time.

“It is really great going each semester, I never know what to expect and it really impresses me that they come up with such diversity in every Brown Bag,” says Myles Luttman, a senior SMU student. “It is fun to watch because I have friends in the show, but it is also great to see an art form that most people aren’t familiar with.”

Even the faculty is impressed when the series comes around each semester.

“Every Brown Bag is unique and different. Every one is better than another one in some way. It’s always, always dynamic and exciting. It is fantastic preparation if a student wants to have their own dance company once they graduate,” says Buraczeski.

The preparation with Brown Bag starts off with student Choreographers creating different dances. They teach the dance students a small portion of their routines and perform it in front of faculty adjudicators—which is typically made up of SMU dance professors. From there, the adjudicators help narrow down the performances that will make up the show. Then the choreographers sit down to barter and trade the dancers they want for their performance.

“We have two weeks to learn it, then it gets adjudicated, then another two weeks to rehearse before we perform, “says O’Connor.

O’Connor also pointed out how great the opportunity is for dance students, because it is a relaxed environment where they can dance barefoot or in their socks, unlike their more serious performances like the Hope Show coming later in the semester. It is also a chance for the students to take the process into their own hands.

“It is really about the choreographers, because it’s their chance to get their choreography out and test it. It’s a chance to see if they have the skills to do this. The whole process is about them,” says O’Connor. “I haven’t done it yet, but I want to—maybe next year.”

This is an opportunity for SMU students to go see something new and experience a new for of art and expression.

“Don’t be afraid or intimidated by dance. It is a non-verbal art form to be enjoyed without preconceptions,” says Buraczeski. “Every viewer will have a different experience and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a celebration.”

Video by Sydney Giesey and Fernando Valdez
Editing by Sydney Giesey

Meadows Symposium Offers Tips for Landing that First Job

October 23, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Aileen Garcia

Four SMU graduates shared tips Friday on what they look for in a new employee, sharing insight on what they expect from candidates and how the smallest mistake can send your resume to the trash bin.

The alumni panel was part of a day-long Meadows Symposium event focusing on the art of entrepreneurship. Journalists, actors and communications professionals spoke in classes and networked with students in the Owen Arts Center and Umphrey Lee Center.

Jack Gallivan, director of operations at RJW, said one of the most important things students need to land a job is a legible resume that describes what you did, when and where.

Employers are bombarded with hundreds of resumes for a job position, so even a small mistake can cost you an interview.

“If I see any misspellings I’m just not interested,” said Valerie Tabor, co-founder of Contemporary Ballet Dallas.

Networking also is a key factor that helps young graduates connect to people that could help open doors.

“At the end of the day it is all about relationships,” said Royce Wilson of Cox Media.

Ed Wilson, former president of Tribune Broadcasting, said Googling a person and finding a common interest that they like can help make conversation and get one’s foot in the door.

Students seeking jobs must note that every little detail counts, panelists said.

Research the company and know who works there, Wilson said, adding that nobody wants to go to an interview and get blindsided.

Having confidence, a strong handshake, and making eye contact are a few things that I look for, said Tabor.

Social networks seem to be on every employer’s mind, and an embarrassing picture could cause a candidate to lose an opportunity for a job.

Clear your MySpace and Facebook pages of any inappropriate pictures, panelists said. Employers have ways of maneuvering through privacy settings to view your account, Tabor said.

Tabor also said bringing copies of resumes to an interview is smart planning just in case an employer would like someone else to interview the candidate on the spot.

“Closing an interview saying you want the job and highlighting the qualities you bring to the table lets the employer know you are interested,” said Jessica Rugg of the Dallas Cowboys.

“Find that point about you that makes you valuable. Learn how to sell yourself,” said Carrie Ford, director of marketing for the Crow Collection of Art in Dallas.

It’s important for graduates to know that life takes its turns.

I had my whole life planned out. I was going to take the bar exam and work for the FBI. Well the day I was supposed to take the bar I had kidney stones, said Tabor.

Tabor did end up applying for the FBI and was accepted, but turned it down and hasn’t looked back. She now is cofounder of the Forth Worth Ballet.

“I’ve never meet anyone who graduated and got their dream job right away, but hey 10 years from then,” Tabor said.

“Not trying to discourage education, but it doesn’t matter what you get your degree in. It hasn’t been an issue,” said Gallivan.

Gallivan rephrased his quote saying going into a specific trade and having that educational background does give one an advantage over others, but not having that background should not discourage anyone from pursuing their dreams.

Rugg recapped the discussion reminding their audience that, “Your degree means everything and also nothing.”

It means everything by giving you an advantage to others, but it doesn’t have to restrict anyone to one field.

“Branch out, go that different direction,” said Rugg.

Eclectic South Indian Music Fills Taubman Atrium

October 16, 2008 by · Comments Off 

By Nadia Dabbakeh

If you heard the strange sound of music wafting through the halls of the Owen Arts Center Wednesday afternoon, then you were listening to the complex Carnatic music of the South Indian group Ragalaya.

Brought to SMU by the Brown bag World Music Series, the group consists of some of India’s leading artists, percussionist Poovalur Srinivasan (known as Sriji), violinist Vittal Ramamurthy, and for the first time ever, their close friend, violinist Ganesh Prasad.

The concert was held at the Taubman Atrium, the heart of the OAC, where the couches and coffee tables scattered all around lent a comfortable and intimate vibe to the performance. People of all ages were able to sit back and relax and enjoy the music. Others seeking refuge from the rain were lucky enough to find some unexpected entertainment.

The musicians are also music professors at the University of North Texas. Some of the members of the audience consisted of UNT students who recently went on a study-abroad trip to India and became die-hard fans. Alex Valdes, senior music major, and Michael Morgan, sophomore art major, who were on the trip, said they skipped their class and drove from Denton to see the performance.

The three musicians sat a couple of feet off the ground on small podiums, with Sriji raised higher than the others on a cushion. While people settled in for the show, the musicians tuned their instruments, Sriji did this by peculiarly hitting his drum repeatedly with a rock on different areas and listening to the beat.

“We have a joke about that. In India they don’t have rock music, they have rock tuning,” Valdes said.

When the show started, the room grew quiet, as music one would imagine could only exist in ancient Indian folktales filled the room with a rich, upbeat harmonic minor. Soon the whole room was smiling, nodding their heads, and tapping the beats with their hands on their knees.

“They are so highly trained that their fingers are barely touching the strings,” Morgan said. “They are flawless as always.”

As the music swelled and curiosity brought even more people into the atrium, Prasad and Ramamurthy took turns playing, and responding to the music each created.? ? ? ?

Sriji later said this back and forth is because they are “improvising upon a highly specific and complex rhythm cycle,” and so as one [person] plays, the other listens and responds through his music and vice versa.

“This is the musical imitation of the words of a person. They are speaking to one another,” Valdes said.

“I’ve studied jazz and there are a lot of similarities in the way they are taking turns and improvising.” Valdes said. “But it’s cool to see it in something so different.”

The body language of the musicians was just as engaging as their music – Sriji’s face was expressive. His eyes were closing and then popping open in surprise while his head nodded to one side at different beats. His 5-year-old daughter was so enthralled by the music she got up and danced a traditional Indian dance, her ornamented Sari and gold jewelry jingled along to the tune.

The violinists swayed their hands to the music, and their fingers seemed to be counting along as well.

Sriji, said, “These hand gestures are used to keep track of the 16-beat-rhythm cycle, and to measure time.”

“I saw them in India too,” Morgan said. “It’s very different in that Indian setting, but no matter where they are, they are amazing – the words to describe this kind of music doesn’t exist yet.”