Race and heritage explored in CU’s Collaborative Arts

In early November, Soundings students were given the opportunity to watch this year’s Collaborative Arts performance online.

The project, led by dance professor Maya Kraus and choral director Sherrill Blodget, is a yearly collaboration of student artists that Kraus has been putting on since 2012.

“What drives the whole Collaborative Arts project is trying to encourage students as artists instead of as students,” Kraus said, “to reach across to another medium, another wealth of inspiration.”

Sophomore Luke McGee performed in the video — and also edited it.

“The hard part in this time was that over Zoom it’s really tough to kind of portray this sense of collaboration, and this sense of kind of combining all these different art forms,” he said.

McGee spent hours moving videos, blurring, fading, and cutting the video. He was more than satisfied with the product.

Kraus’ Intro to Dance class and Blodget’s Chamber Singers performing “Harlem Songs” together.

“It’s basically an art program where they can take a multitude of different art forms from a multitude of different artists and kind of combine them into one cohesive performance,” he said.

Junior A.J. Grant, who sang and danced in the performance, watched the finished video as a Soundings student.

“I guess it was sort of an out-of-body experience just seeing everyone on the screen together, but not actually being all together,” Grant said.

She acknowledged that being apart detracted from the experience, for both singing and dancing. But she was still happy with how it turned out.

“As disappointing as it is that we weren’t able to get the full experience,” she said, “it’s still important to keep the arts in your life and in your routine and to not just let them go.”

Grant (left) and other members of CU’ Chamber singers.

Kraus found this year significant; however, because shortly following the Black Lives Matter flag raising ceremony, she hoped to see positive change on Castleton’s campus.

“Whenever there’s change, there’s always people that are against change,” Kraus said. She hoped Collaborative Arts would complement the flag raising in showing support for people of color.

The first half of the performance is “Harlem Songs,” directed by Blodget. Kraus and her dance students provided the choreography. The second half is a dance performed by Kraus.

Kraus, who is studying for her master’s in interdisciplinary arts, is always looking for ways to express herself artistically. This performance gave her a chance to share her Japanese heritage through dance.

Kraus during her dance performance, filmed by Luke McGee.

“Thinking about your ancestry, thinking about someone else’s ancestry and where other people come from, we did not just come here out of nowhere,” Kraus said. “There are generations of ourselves before us.”


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