By VICKY SANTOS
Published April 26, 2023
Becoming acclimated to performing off stage is one of the many goals of “Inhabiting Spaces,” a multi-year and multi-disciplinary performance art tour being held throughout the North Campus April 26-27.
The two-day event features collaborative performance works by students in Melanie Aceto’s choreography II class, Tiffany Du Mouchelle’s music and drama ensemble, and Jacob Reber’s introduction to writing poetry and fiction class, along with other guest artists and presenters.
A full program, schedule and map for the event is available on the Inhabiting Spaces website.
Aceto, associate professor of theatre and dance, and Du Mouchelle, clinical assistant professor of music, say the focus of “Inhabiting Spaces” is to bring together various artists and professionals from diverse mediums to create site-specific performance works.
“This is a great opportunity for getting art out onto campus, and it’s offered our choreographers the chance to think about dance off the proscenium stage,” Aceto says.
With sites chosen from indoor and outside spaces, artists will come together to create an art-tour of experiences, each exploring the unique qualities of the chosen location and environment.
“I teach vocal performance, but I opened my class to include students from other disciplines because I wanted my students to see that when you collaborate, you can create unique things and you can engage with your community and the environment around you,” Du Mouchelle says. “And in doing so, I want to empower my students to be comfortable singing in different spaces and to play with different sounds and different acoustical spaces, and explore what that has to offer. Because you don’t know where you might be singing and performing.”
The idea for an event like this has been simmering in the minds of Aceto and Du Mouchelle for several years, but it came to fruition when they met Lili Stern, a graduate student in arts management. The trio talked about the best way to approach this collaboration and agreed it should be part of Stern’s final thesis project.
“When I started my master’s degree, I wanted to do something on campus, and something that’s collaborative,” Stern says. “I’m originally from Europe, and it appeared to me that people are less engaged in the arts and into the art scene here in general. Having taken Melanie’s choreography class and talking with her and Tiffany about my idea, which is something they were already talking about, the three of us just came together and decided that we should do something, and it was a good opportunity to make it happen,” she says.
Stern actively works as a choreographer, dancer and theater-maker. She’s interested in participatory and interdisciplinary projects in the field of art, management and pedagogy, so coordinating “Inhabiting Spaces” gave her the chance to pour her interests into one project.
“We’re working together to create unique works, which will be later presented as a part of a walking experiential art-tour in topics such as transgender rights, climate change and sustainably, mental health, and others,” Stern says.
Adds Du Mouchelle: “Personally, I’ve been very interested in interdisciplinary collaboration, and I’m really very excited about the opportunities of creative empowerment and conversation that can be built when people from different backgrounds come together and can creatively engage in discourse.”
The trio says they’re thankful for the partnership that has led to making the event a reality.
“We all have overlapping areas of interest and expertise that play crucial roles in putting something like this together,” Aceto says. “While Tiffany and I may have started off with this idea, it has been such a gift to have Lili on board. Having a third completely passionate and engaged person involved in this event has made it all possible.”
The coordinators say that ideally, this will be an annual event that will build and continue to grow.
“I think we’re making some really strong connections, not just with other faculty and classes, but also with some of the clubs and student organizations in the UB community. And our hope is that next year and beyond, it will continue to incorporate more people and more sites,” Du Mouchelle says.