As the School of Dance and the College of Visual and Performing Arts learns to adapt to physical distancing requirements, the work of the LIVE Center is vital to ensuring high-quality education. Even after arts programs at Mason can resume normal operations, it will continue to connect teachers from all over the world to Mason students.
What is the LIVE Center?
The LIVE Center (The Center for Live Interactive Virtual Education) is a home for innovative virtual education solutions for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
In 2019, Dance Heritage professor Christopher d’Amboise saw a need for video conferencing that allowed for life-sized, full body interaction. From this, the concept of the Moving Story Window Wall was created: a teacher in a remote location could be projected live and life-sized onto the wall of a studio, while a live feed of the students are projected for the teacher.
This concept became the basis for the flagship initiative of the LIVE Center. By eliminating the barrier of distance, the Moving Story Window Wall expands possibilities for virtual teaching, performances, and one-of-a-kind events.
The creation of the LIVE Center became imperative when the COVID-19 pandemic forced educators to change the ways they teach. The virtual nature of the Moving Story Window Wall, and the fact that it negates the problem of physical distance, has already allowed for safer physically-distanced classes to take place. A dance teacher in one studio can be projected into several studios at once, the dancers in each maintaining physical distance from each other.
School of Dance Guest Artist Hope Boykin creates a new work and teaches master classes through the Moving Story Window Wall from New York into all four of the School's studios (pictured below).
Terrence Mann (a multiple time Tony and Emmy award nominated actor and director) taught a masterclass from NYC with Musical Theater students from Mason and Shenandoah University.
The LIVE Center worked with the School of Theater, connecting Tony award-nominated actress Laura Osnes with Mason Musical Theater students for a masterclass.
Partnering with the School of Music, the LIVE Center's Window Wall facilitated a masterclass between Third Coast Percussion (a Chicago based quartet) and percussion students under Professor John Kilkenny. The students were able to perform, get feedback, and ask questions.
Mason Arts at Home and the School of Theater partnered with the LIVE Center for a pre-recorded virtual production of Luther’s Trumpet, conceived and directed by Dean Rick Davis. The Window Wall projected scenic effects and allowed for live interaction between the cast (some on campus, others performing virtually).
Beyond the Stage
Students and Faculty reserved chairs in front of the Performing Arts Building to watch original dance films projected onto two sides of the building. Showing 21 films over two evenings, the event celebrated student creativity and brought the Mason community together.
This one of a kind performance event used a parking lot as a stage and invited audience members to park their cars and use their headlights to light the performers. Eight choreographers premiered their work with students dancing within the circle of cars. This unique opportunity allowed us to share live dance with a live audience in this safe and adventurous event.