Associate Professor Steven Breaux Selected for International Traveling Exhibit

December 3, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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Associate Professor Steven Breaux is part of an exhibition travelling to 5 sites in 2014-2015 including Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, University of Maine and the University of Moncton, Quebec Canada, where he was a member of a panel discussing the issues of the exhibit.

The travelling exhibition is currently at:

Galerie la Colline et Centre d’exposition de la Petite Eglise, Edmundston, New Brunswick in conjunction with Musée historique du Madawaska, Edmundston, New Brunswick and is on display from October 9  to November 16, 2014.

l’Acadie mythique

Archives and museums in Nova Scotia and northern Maine are collaborating to present the first exhibition of a group project bringing together five Acadian archives and historical museums, sixteen artists and five exhibition venues across the geographic territory of Acadian communities. The exhibition l’Acadie mythique is a project of Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It consists of contemporary artworks created in response to historical objects and documents found in collections of the participating archives. Each individual artist has selected an object or objects to interpret in the medium of their choice. The word “mythique” refers to shared cultural narratives that often focus on universal themes such as creation, genesis and human beings’ relationship to natural and supernatural forces. Over time, the events of Acadian history have possessed their own near-mythological power to engender great narratives. L’Acadie mythique is a unique occasion for artists from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine and Louisiana to come together around the central theme of “l’Acadie mythique”. It provides them with an opportunity to investigate old and new ways that art can give visual form to the question of Acadian identity, and creates a space where artists explore individual visions of one of the great founding cultures of the New World.

The 10 sites in five cities:

14 June – 13 Sept. 2014
Archives acadiennes de l’Université du Maine à Fort Kent, ME
Musée culturel du Mont-Carmel, Lille, ME

9 Oct. – 16 Nov. 2014
Galerie la Colline et Centre d’exposition de la Petite Eglise, Edmundston, New Brunswick.
Avec le Musée historique du Madawaska, Edmundston, New Brunswick

15 Feb. – 15 May, 2015
Musée acadien de l’Université de Moncton en collaboration avec La Galerie d’art Louise et Reuben Cohen, Moncton, New Brunswick

15 June – 1 Sept. 2015
Galerie Le Trécarré, Pointe de l’Église, Clare, Nova Scotia
La Galerie Père Comeau avec le Centre acadien de l’Université Saine-Anne, Clare, Nova Scotia

12 Sept. – 15 Nov. 2015
Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery, Halifax, NS
Avec le Musée acadien de l’Ile du Prince Édouard, Miscouche. I.P.E., Nova Scotia

School of Music presents Christmas Concert

November 24, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s School of Music will host its annual Christmas Concert on Wednesday, December 3, 6:30pm in Angelle Hall Auditorium. This concert will feature the UL Chorale and Chamber Singers, UL Wind Ensemble, and UL Symphony Orchestra. It will include a world premiere of a new setting of the text “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Swedish composer Fredrik Sixten. Come join us for an evening of beautiful and inspiring holiday music! Admission is FREE.

The UL Chamber Singers will also be singing at Sneaux Day right before the Christmas Concert. Sneaux Day is December 3 from 4-6pm at Martin Hall Circle. There will be ice skating, free jambalaya and hot cocoa, pictures with Santa, and, of course, caroling by the UL Chamber Singers. Kick off the holiday season with these two fantastic FREE events!

Click here to go to the Facebook event for the Christmas Concert.

New York Cabaret Singer, Georga Osborne, Presents Broadway Concert

November 18, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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New York cabaret artist/Broadway performer, Georga Osborne and her pianist Steven Watkins will perform Saturday, November 22 at 7:30pm in Burke Theatre. Georga has won numerous cabaret award in New York and has appeared in the original cast of Meet Me in St. Louis on Broadway. She has also toured extensively through the United States and abroad in musical theatre. Her solo show mixes humor with beautiful singing and moving ballads. Admission is free for UL Lafayette students, faculty and staff, $15 for general public, and $10 for seniors. Osborne will also give a masterclass for our students on Sunday, November 23 at 1:30pm in Burke Theatre.  All are invited to attend, free of charge.

Click here to go to the Facebook event.

An Interview with Author and Faculty Advisor of the BeauSoleil Home, Geoff Gjertson

November 12, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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On Friday, November 21 from 12-1pm in Fletcher 134, Professor Gjertson will present a lecture on lessons learned from the BeauSoleil Home since its completion five years ago and highlight aspects of his new book, co-authored by Dege Legg (and forewords by Pliny Fisk and Edward J. Cazayoux, FAIA). Here is an interview with W. Geoff Gjertson, AIA.

How would you define environmental sustainability and being “green” to someone who is not familiar with it?

I think it’s really about quality of life. All of the things that make the home perform better are ultimately about improving your quality of life and, of course, improving the environment, eventually. Everything we did on BeauSoleil was to try to make it mainstream and more digestible for the public. So, we never pushed the technical side as much as just the idea that we were designing a house for our people and for our culture and that we really wanted to make it very livable and a fun thing. Sure, it’s got solar panels and all this other stuff, but a lot of what really makes it sustainable are things that have been around for a long time. Look at the way our ancestors lived. They knew how to orient the house to get the best sun or to block the sun and to get the best wind. They were learning how to live off the grid and be environmental before it was the cool thing.

So, what is the history of the home, and what was the purpose of building it?

It was a two-year process of designing and building. We were one of twenty universities selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to participate in the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C. They take proposals, and they pick the top twenty from around the world. We were the only school from Louisiana to ever be in the Solar Decathlon and were among an incredibly impressive array. We really saw the competition as more of a vehicle to explore stuff we were already looking at, and it was a great opportunity to get some funding from the Department of Energy. However, it was really about getting to design a house for Louisiana, for our people. We were following Katrina and Rita, so it was important to think of a new, sustainable, modular, small house that could be great for a hurricane replacement home but also just to live more efficiently and sustainably. We had about about 200 students, 50 faculty, and over 2,000 sponsors. It was an incredible journey. We had to build the house, take it apart, move it a thousand miles, put it back together in four days, compete for three weeks, take it apart, and bring it back. So, that was pretty impressive.

What is the “hope” that the book speaks of?

The book is really about the human stories. That’s why it’s called “Generating Hope” because hope was really the motivation, I think, for people to participate. Hope was generated for the community because it really got this kind of grassroots effort in our community. It got a discussion going about sustainability that maybe had started but wasn’t really tangible that the university had going that people could get behind. So, we had people supporting it almost like our football team.

So, what is your personal “hope” for of the future this project? A lot of questions were raised about the marketability of the home. Where would you like to see this take off?

That’s a good question. Initially, of course, all of us wanted to see it mass produced. I don’t quite feel that way anymore. I think it deserves to be built and reproduced, but I think having thousands of any one thing is probably not a good idea. I think we can take from this and build multiples and change them up. We’ve talked about trying to do a whole community in Cameron. So, we’re just looking for different possibilities. It really led to these other homes that we’ve built. Since the BeauSoleil, we’ve built three market rate homes that I call the “city cousins of BeauSoleil” and four habitat homes. However, I still have the hope that we would find a manufacturer that could prefabricate it. That would be the most cost-efficient way for the median income family to afford the home. But, right now, it’s still very expensive for this high level of performance.

That’s kind of what people say about eating healthy, too. If you want to eat healthy, all the healthy food is more expensive than the unhealthy food, but the healthier food is ultimately better for you.

That’s a good analogy. You could also say it would be cheaper if you grew your own vegetables. Well, sustainability could be cheaper in your own home if you work harder at it. But, we’ve been so conditioned for convenience to let the building work for us. ‘I’m not going to open a window to make it cooler; I’m going to adjust the temperature on the thermostat.’ If we’re willingly to make our homes operate more and respond more to the climate and if we’re willing to manipulate it more, then we can save energy without having to add a lot of solar panels or whatever. You know, there are a lot of things we can do, but it is somewhat of a lifestyle change. I don’t think that anyone should think it’s easy to be green. It’s a commitment.

How did you go about writing the book?

I had been thinking about it since we first finished the home in 2009. I did a little, small, self-published book because I thought it needed to be documented with images. I knew it needed a book, but I also knew I needed some distance from it. So, after three years, I started brainstorming. I didn’t want it to be just a diary of the whole project. We had a roundtable discussion about what the book should be, and did interviews with about thirty people who worked on the project, some of which I hadn’t seen since the competition. It was kind of cathartic, in a way. I really wanted to see if my students forgave me for driving them too hard with this project. I was afraid that I worked some of my students too hard. Ultimately, they worked themselves that hard. We all worked ourselves hard. So, I found out that they weren’t holding any grudges against me. That was a relief. But, it gave them the chance to talk about how the project affected them and their lives and careers. We have one student who is now the sustainability director. One is a photographer. It helped them all in different ways, which was nice to see. I decided that the book should be three narratives. One is the basic diary of the project and the amazing journey of it all. I went through two years of emails and just wrote this huge transcript. But, it was really boring. So, I hired Dege Legg, a local musician and writer, who helped me in cutting it down a lot. So, I made it to where anyone would find it interesting. I also have technical sidebars for people who want to know specifics about the project, all the numbers and whatnot. The third section, which is really important, is the portraits derived from the interviews with the individuals and what they thought hope was. So, the book is kind of like the history and definition of hope, because everyone who participated defined hope. Dege wrote the portraits that gave an independent, third party perspective from the players in the project. In the book, I talk about motivations for doing the project, how we assembled the team and how it organically grew, how we named it, designed it, built it, and competed. The conclusion of the book is about the descendants of BeauSoleil, which are the homes that we’ve built since then and what we’re doing with the home now.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just that this is everyone’s story. It’s not really my story. I wanted to do this for everyone who worked on it and for the community that got behind it. I felt like it needed to be documented and shared. I felt like that chapter needed to be concluded. Now, there may be another chapter, but some of the money from the book will go toward future projects. Everything has always kind of led to the next thing. So, we’ll see.

You can purchase “Generating Hope: Stories of the BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home at http://www.amazon.com/Generating-Hope-Stories-Beausoleil-Louisiana/dp/1935754505/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415833218&sr=8-1&keywords=generating+hope

For more information, go to http://www.beausoleilhome.org/

State of LA Danse Offers a Stunning Showcase of Faculty Collaboration

November 10, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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The UL Lafayette School of Music and Performing Arts presents State of LA Danse

November 13-15 at 7:30pm and November 16 at 2pm. All performances will be at the Ducrest-Gilfry Auditorium at Angelle Hall on the UL Lafayette campus. The 2014 production of State of LA Danse will feature a range of choreographic approaches that are thoughtfully diverse in subject matter and richly innovative in approach.

Two members of the resident artist faculty, Dina Ternullo Melley and Marie Broussard, offer works that are the further exploration into and development of earlier works.  Ms. Melly will present Solitary Dancer while Ms. Broussard will offer Oiseaux Tristes (Sad Birds). Both of these dances will be performed with live musical accompaniment. The score for Solitary Dancer will be performed by the University Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. William Hochkeppel, with School of Music and Performing Arts faculty member Eric Melley conducting. Oiseaux Tristes, by Maurice Ravel will be performed by School of Music and Performing Arts faculty member Chan Kiat Lim and will integrate a film created by UL Lafayette Visual Art department faculty member Yeon Choi.

The evening concludes with three diverse approaches to original choreography from three Louisiana natives, Blakeley White-McGuire, CoCo Loupe and Matthew Couvillon.

Ms. White-McGuire describes her work 15 Scores as a dance born of a long distance collaboration using Interdisciplinary generative processes. It is the product of the dancers’ interpretation of 15 scores sent to them by the director over the course of two months. In his choreography Give ‘Em A Revue!, Matthew Couvillon is utilizing the style and form of the 1920’s and 30s vaudeville revue to comment on timely social issues. Completing the evening, CoCo Loupe has used improvisational techniques with the dancers to develop the movement vocabulary for her original choreography rites of way.

Tickets for State of LA Danse will be available at Angelle Hall one hour prior to each performance or online at PFAR.LOUISIANA.EDU. General admission tickets are $10.00. Alumni, Senior Citizens and students are $5.00. UL Lafayette faculty and staff are free with valid university identification. For more information call 337-482-6357.

Click here to go to the Facebook event.

UL Jazz Ensembles to Present Concerts in November

November 10, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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The series of jazz concerts will begin on November 18 and 19 at 7:30 pm in Ducrest-Gilfry Auditorium. These events are free and open to the public.

  • Tuesday, November 18: Jazz Combos II and III
  • Wednesday, November 19: Jazz Combo I and the Jazz Guitars

The Cypress Lake Sextet and the UL Lafayette Jazz Ensemble will present a concert at the Acadiana Center for the Arts (ACA)Friday, November 21 beginning at 7:30 p.m.  The ACA is located at 101 West Vermilion St. in downtown Lafayette.

The price of admission is $12 general, $8 for students, seniors, and ACA members.

The Cypress Lake Sextet is composed of UL School of Music jazz faculty including: Paul Morton, trumpet; Michael Jenner, saxophone; Jeff George, guitar; Garth Alper, keyboard; Chris Munson, drums; and bassist Robert Nash.

For the last twenty years the Cypress Lake Sextet has been dedicated to the promotion of jazz on the highest level. The group focus is on original compositions that explore a number of contemporary jazz styles. A variety of rhythmic grooves keeps the music fresh and the audience engaged. In keeping with an important tradition of the jazz genre, the combo balances a unique group conception with improvisatory soloing. Recent performances have included radio and World Wide Web broadcasts and concerts in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and a number of other communities throughout Louisiana.

Directed by Dr. William Hochkeppel, the UL Jazz Ensemble is an 18-piece “big band” that performs best in contemporary jazz, and well as standards made famous by Jazz greats such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton.  The group is composed of UL music students who enter the group through a stringent audition process.

UL Opera Theatre Presents “An Evening with Gilbert and Sullivan”

November 5, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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The UL Lafayette Opera Theatre, under the direction of Shawn Roy, will present “An Evening with Gilbert and Sullivan” Friday, Nov. 7 and Saturday Nov. 8 at 7:30PM and Sunday, Nov. 9 at 3PM in the Burke-Hawthorne theatre on the UL Lafayette campus.

The evening will consist of different scenes, solos, and ensembles from their various turn of the century operettas.  The cast of 11 will delight you will catchy, patter tunes and choreography appropriate to the early 1900′s era.  The show is being set in 1912, one year after the death of Mr. Gilbert.  Tickets are available at the door only and are $10 for the general public and $5 for students with ID.  UL Lafayette students, faculty and staff are admitted free of charge. Click here to go to the Facebook event page.

Wind Ensemble Presents Homecoming Concert; Chamber Singers and Chorale Present Fall Concert

October 27, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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The UL Wind Ensemble Homecoming Concert “Ragin Cajuns Ever After” will enchant Angelle Hall on Friday October 31 at 7:30pm. It will be an evening of fairytales, fables, and haunting stories. Selections include: “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” featuring narration by Shawn Roy, “Tam O’ Shanter,” and “Baron Cimetiere’s Mambo.” Click here to go to the Facebook event.

The UL Chamber Singers and Chorale will present their fall concert in Angelle Hall on Sunday, November 2 at 6pm. The program is entitled “A Day in Music,” and will feature choral music which describes the times of day, exploring themes associated with day and night, waking and sleeping, the cycles of life and death, youth and age, birth and rebirth. Click here to go to the Facebook event.

Both events are free admission.

UL Symphony Presents Annual Halloween Concert

October 20, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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Adults and little ones alike will get into the Halloween spirit when the UL Lafayette Symphony, under the direction of Michael Blaney, presents its Annual Halloween Concert Wednesday, October 29, at 7:30 p.m. in Angelle Hall Auditorium. Orchestra members will be wearing costumes, and the audience is encouraged to show up in their favorite Halloween costumes. Musical highlights of this year’s concert include: Suite from Video Games Live, Picture at an Exhibition, Danse Bacchanale, Flinstones Meet the Jetsons, and Copland’s Hoedown. Guest appearances by the UL School of Music Faculty and Lafayette Ballet Theatre. It’s a great way to celebrate the holiday in a fun and entertaining way.

Admission is $8 for adults, FREE for 17 and younger, FREE for all UL students, faculty, and staff with I.D. All proceeds benefit the UL-Lafayette Orchestra Program. For more information call the UL School of Music at (337) 482-6012

Q&A with Artist-in-Residence Matt Couvillon

October 3, 2014 by Travis Guillory  
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Matthew Couvillon is the artist-in-residence for the UL Department of Dance from September 29 through October 8. Couvillon is an alumni of both the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Department of Performing Arts as well as The School at Jacob’s Pillow. He has toured both Nationally and Internationally with West Side Story (A-Rab) and A Chorus Line (Larry, Mike, dance captain). And his Regional credits include: Cats (Pouncival, Skimbleshanks, Mistoffelees), The Pajama Game (Steam Heat dancer), and Brigadoon (featured dancer). He has also danced with Mary Seidman and Dancers dance company in NYC. Couvillon has also assisted Director/Choreographer and Broadway veteran Baayork Lee on productions of A Chorus Line, Oliver, The Public Theatre’s Gala tribute to Composer Marvin Hamlisch as well as two shows for Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

What is it like returning to the department that you were a part of as a student?

It’s extremely exciting. It’s grown so much since I’ve been here. Everything is growing, and it’s all going in the right direction. It’s also nice to come back because I got so much from this department. My greatest mentors come from this program and from this faculty. So, to be able to come back and to work on the other side of it all is really nice. It’s so important for me to be back here because, without the four years that I spent here, I would be nothing of who I am now. My training, my sense of self, my sense of expectation in my life, personally and professionally, all came from this place.

What is the most important lesson you learned at UL?

While I was here, I was creating but it was always for a course with other students. But I spent a lot of time trying to do it “correctly.” It was always designed to impress my teachers, my mentors, my judicators. I think it wasn’t until the very end during my senior year that I just did “me.” That’s when they were the most impressed – that I could make work what works for me as an individual artist. So I guess what I learned the most was to be true to myself and my instincts and to understand that it is different, but that’s okay because it’s new and it’s something else to offer.

What or who inspired you to start performing?

I think my story is like most stories in the sense of having a family that works in the fields, and I was the little kid sitting in the tractor singing songs and putting on shows. And that’s what I think a lot of young people do. I think that sense of play is so important. But I know that it was when I did Annie Jr. in fifth grade, and I was one of those orphans with lines. That’s when it took off. I started doing musicals with local community theaters and later on in my high school drama department. Teachers I had opened up my eyes to what all of this could be. I wanted to be a choreographer before I even knew what dance was. There was just something about the idea of creating this stuff that I was so keen to. Then, I came to UL. Kenneth Jenkins, hands down, is one of the best, and all the technique that I have today is because of this faculty.

What is your biggest achievement in your career thus far?

I don’t know. That’s hard. I honestly don’t find myself very interesting. You wake up, and this is just what you do. But I know that what we do as performers is very intriguing to someone who is not exposed to all of that. I wouldn’t say it’s an achievement, but I’ve been extremely lucky in working with the people who I’ve worked with. I did A Chorus Line and learned it from Baayork Lee who was in the original production and is now the woman who sets the show everywhere. I did West Side Story with Joey McKneely, who is the man of the dance of West Side Story. So, what I’m saying is that I lucked out that in the work that I’ve done, I’ve worked with the people who were truly connected to the work. I don’t know if that answers the question. I know I’ve done some exciting things, but I always say that it’s so much of who I am that it’s hard to separate from that and think of it as being “achievements.” I set out to do something when I knew that this is what I wanted to do. And this is where I was the most happy, more than happy. It was more than an idea of being happy. It was that this is what felt right, and I had a sense of understanding. I set out to do it, and I never looked back.

Where do you hope your career will go from here? What is your goal?

I want to do the work. Wherever that is is where I need to be. I want to be creating and choreographing. Wherever the work is needed or things that I believe in or things that I need to say or explore and push myself to truly develop. I think that’s the main thing. For me, it’s about doing the work. If you would’ve asked me five years ago, it was something totally different. You know, people have this grand idea of their name in lights, but it’s really about doing the work and growing as an artist and as a person.

You’re choreographing a piece for State of LA Danse. Can you tell a little bit about the piece?

The technical side of it is me trying to explore and make my two worlds exist in one, in terms of my theatrical sensibility and my modern dance vocabulary and figuring out how to make these two work. I’m using recordings from the 1920s, and I’m exploring the idea of women’s liberation that later informed the women’s sexual movement from the 60s to the 80s. I’m using the idea of prohibition, women’s suffrage, speakeasies, man and woman existing for the first time in a bar. Then, I’m turning it around and questioning the audience, although they feel disconnected from this because it isn’t their time, asking them what are we doing to the current women’s movement by allowing things like rape culture surfacing again in the college systems, where one out of five women are sexually assaulted in her time at a school. Though we think we’re not connected to it, we are. And what are we going to do about it? It may not be you, but it may be the person sitting next to you in the audience. The piece is set in the vaudeville theatre with old approaches, but I’m then flipping it around for a modern idea and audience. So, it’s all presentational, but when the moment hits, the honest question of “what are you going to do about this” truly reads and resonates for the audience to then decide what their answer is.

What is some advice you can offer to young, aspiring artists?

I want to say something extremely smart and profound, but I don’t think it’s all of that. I think, like what I said about what I want my own career to be, it’s really about doing the work. You’ve got to do the work. You’ve got to train, know your history, who’s working now, and be very well-informed. The rest will fall in line. I watched an interview with Twyla Tharp, one of the world’s leading choreographers of modern dance, and they asked her the same question. I almost stole her answer, but she said, “It’s not to have a dream but to have a purpose.” I think that’s truly what it is. With a dream, we get caught up in the idea of our names in lights and disconnected from that is the idea of the work and what it took those people to get there. With a dream, there is this thing that we’re chasing for our names to be in lights, and who knows when or if we will get there. It’s just going to lead you down a very dark, dark road because this business is hard. You need to wake up every morning with a purpose. I have a purpose to create, so I will create; I have a purpose to be the best dancer I can be, so I’m going to take classes; I want to be a playwright, so I’m going to write every day. It’s about understanding your existence in life. And eventually, maybe one day your name will be in lights. Maybe not. But you will be doing the work. You will be happy. At least, that’s what I’m going by.

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