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.
Professor Lynda Frese Selected as Inaugural Recipient of the Art for Shadows Program at the Shadows-on-the-Teche
New Iberia, La. (June 26, 2014) – Visual artist and University of Louisiana at Lafayette 2013 Distinguished Professor Lynda Frese and traditional French Louisiana musician David Greely, founding fiddler of the Mamou Playboys, have been selected as artists in residence for the Art and Shadows program. The 12- month Art and Shadows program provides unique studio and performance space for one visual artist and one musician at the Shadows- on-the-Teche, a National Historic Landmark and historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in New Iberia, La.
While the National Trust has artist residencies at other locations in its portfolio of 27 historic sites, the Art and Shadows program represents a new prototype that brings visual artist and a performing artist into dialogue with one another during the residency. Art and Shadows, supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), demonstrates how innovative arts programming at historic sites can enhance their role
as community assets and increase cultural and economic impacts in their neighborhoods and regions. “During its storied history, the Shadows- on-the-Teche has influenced artists and innovators, such as Walt Disney and author Henry Miller, who visited the site” said Pat Kahle, director of Shadows-on-the-Teche. “I’m delighted that the site will continue to inspire new creative works through the Art and Shadows program and look forward to the results of having two artists here together.”
Lynda Frese and David Greely will create new works onsite that are inspired by both the location and the region’s history. They will leverage the site’s unique buildings, landscapes, and collections that document life in southern Louisiana in the 19th and 20th centuries. The artists Frese and Greely will also have access to non-traditional spaces at the Shadows-on-the-Teche, including a balcony tucked under the deep eaves of the Shadows and overlooking the Bayou Teche; an attic filled with books, artwork, clothing, and furnishings accumulated by the Weeks family over almost 200 years; and the intimate painting studio of Weeks Hall, where he entertained renowned actors, writers, and musicians in the early 20th century. (continued on next page)
Working on-site at the Shadows-on-the-Teche, Frese and Greely will engage the community in participatory experiences around the new works. Public programming will include workshops, lectures, master classes and concerts, culminating in a spring 2015 festival focusing on new works of visual art and the performance from the new musical works created during the residencies.
“I am delighted to be an Art & Shadows artist-in- residence and to have the opportunity to collaborate with one of my favorite musicians, David Greely,” says Frese. “In the artworks I make about the Shadows, I want to honor the history and memory of the site’s community, both the enslaved peoples and the planter families, as well as the land itself. I am using wonderful pictures of the plantation and people from the Shadow’s archives, and my own photographs of its children’s clothing, household items, and sugar cane fields near the Bayou Teche. In my photo collage paintings, I am creating narratives that are open to interpretation for each viewer. My hope is to facilitate the exploration of our relationships with history, memory and nature.“
About the Arts & Shadows Program The Arts & Shadows program is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Its goal is to demonstrate how innovative arts programming at historic sites such as the Shadows can increase their cultural and economic impacts in both their neighborhoods and regions. Over the course of the next year Lynda Frese, a visual artist and David Greely, a performing artist, will work onsite at the Shadows, dialoguing with one another and the public as they create a series of new artworks that will be the centerpiece of the Arts & Shadows Celebration, scheduled for April 11, 2015.
For more information about The Shadows-on-the- Teche, visit http://shadowsontheteche.org. For more information about the artists-in- residence, visit http://lyndafrese.com and http://davidgreely.com. About the National Trust for Historic Preservation The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.PreservationNation.org
Professor Lyda Frese has also completed her artist-in-residency at Ginestrelle, Italy this last July.
Here is her artist statement about the work she completed there: “Being here at Ginestrelle we are surrounded by the spirits of the ancient forest, and also by strong spiritual traditions and teachings. In my project, Divine Plant Kingdoms in Antiquity, the animals, plants and birds speak to us, and like Saint Francis, we wonder how our stories can fit our memorable encounters with the natural world. In my photo collage work, I use images from historic and pre- historic times and places and then circle them with plants that are animated with holy spirits. My work suggests narratives about our ancient cultures, and presents ways we may contemplate and honor the mysteries in nature. On top of these collages I paint with egg tempera, using eggs from the local farm and colored powdered pigments mined from different earth sites. In these images, I use violet hematite, lapis lazuli, blue verditer and Italian raw umber.” —Lynda Frese
Frese was also named as the 2013 Distinguished Professor.
To learn more about Frese and to view some of her work, visit http://www.lyndafrese.com/
On February 21, Angelle Hall will be alive with jazz vocals and swinging big band sounds when New York Voices appears with the UL Jazz Ensemble. As the Grammy Award-winning vocal quartet wraps up their 25th Anniversary Tour, they will join forces with UL’s 20-piece big band. NYV has traveled the globe, amazing audiences the world over with their impeccable voices, close harmonies, and stunning arrangements. Appearances have included jazz festivals, the Boston Pops, and even the Count Basie Band.
With harmonies reminiscent of the Hi Lo’s, The Four Freshmen, and Manhattan Transfer, the group and their diverse repertoire remain unique. UL band members are hard at work on nine great tunes, ranging from Miles Davis & Louis Prima to Stevie Wonder & Paul Simon. During their 3-day visit, NYV will also conduct clinics & master classes on campus. Sponsors are the UL Concert Series, Friends of the Humanities, SGA Lyceum & Faculty Development Grants, College of the Arts, UL Band & Choral Depts.
The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 21 at Angelle Auditorium. All UL students & faculty are free, with general admission tickets at $10 or $5 for students/seniors.
Architecture Graduate Student’s entry in 2013 TerraCycle “Box that Rocks” national competition was chosen as the “Most Creative Entry”
Karla Contreras' entry was revealed during the Green Apple Day of Service, a national effort to "transform schools into healthy, safe, cost-efficient and productive learning places where students . . . can be inspired to dream of brighter future," and marked the beginning of a long term recycling effort and partnership between the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Child Development Center and the UL Office of Sustainability.
The TerraCycle Brigade Program collects and reuses non-recyclable post-consumer waste.
Contreras' win earned the CDC 50,000 points, points that can be used to acquire TerraCycle upcycled products or can be redeemed for $500.00.
"This collection bin’s design intent is the concept of a weeble wobble that will wobble but not fall down. The outer shell has been created from upcycled two ply cardboard and the inner shell has been lined with wrappers of the different brigades being collected such as juice pouches, diaper bags, and cheese wrappers."
Work will begin soon to renovate Joel L. Fletcher Hall. The three-story building on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus houses the School of Architecture and Design and the Department of Visual Arts and the College of the Arts’ Media Center.
The low bidder for the $3.8 million, state-funded project was M.D. Descant Inc.
“We expect to sign a contract as soon as possible,” said Bill Crist, director of Facilities Management for the University. The renovation is expected to begin in December and be complete by the end of next year.
Ziler Architects, the firm that designed the project, received input from students, faculty and alumni.
Fletcher Hall opened in 1977. The original design called for its interior atrium to be covered in glass, but because of budget constraints, it was built with an open-air courtyard instead. Years of exposure to rain have resulted in extensive water damage.
The renovation project will correct leaks and add 20,000 square feet of educational space to the second floor.
The first-floor exterior walls will be repaired, cleaned, weatherproofed and coated to complement new metal panels that will be used on the exterior of the upper floors.
A sprinkler and fire-alarm system will also be added to the building.
Crist said classes will continue to be held in the building during the renovation. “Obviously, that’s going to present some challenges, but the end result will be a much-improved facility that will serve students in the years to come,” he added.
The building is named for the University’s third president, Joel Lafayette Fletcher, who served from 1941 to 1966. – See more at: http://www.louisiana.edu/news-events/news/20131030/fletcher-hall-renovations-begin-december#sthash.WLjYKm14.dpuf
The Art Of Architecture exhibit is on display on the 2nd floor in the Dean’s Gallery from now until December 6th. Students are encouraged to stop by and view the exhibit. The exhibit is the work of Holly & Smith Architects and features the use of art to create the architecture. The closing reception will be held December 6th from 1 to 3pm.
UNIV100 is an university-wide first-year seminar for all incoming freshmen that is offered as a 2 credit-hour interactive experience. Several professors in the College of the Arts underwent training this summer in order to lead the freshmen through the course. Robert Willey of the School of Music and Performing Arts was one of those professors. “The excellent training that Theresa Wozencraft and her colleagues gave us over the summer was a big boost, and made me rethink how I teach the rest of my classes,” said Willey.
Dr. J. Denise John from the School of Architecture and Design has received a lot of positive feedback from students. “I feel that it has helped me identify a few students who needed resource access who might not have otherwise known about them,” John states. “I feel that it may help the students be more successful in the long run.”
Overall, UNIV100 has been a success for both faculty and students. While the students are given the opportunity to become better acquainted with their University, the faculty are given the chance to connect early on with incoming freshmen.
“I am enjoying teaching UNIV100,” says Willey. “I think the content that has been developed is very relevant for the students, and they seem to understand how it will help them succeed in college and beyond. It is a lot of information, but they can come back to the topics and gradually incorporate it over time, such as in budgeting, note taking, studying, time management, using the library, career planning, and getting along with classmates and faculty.”
UNIV100 class doing their Service Learning Project
Professor Hector LaSala explains the “Little Libraries” project. Watch the video and view the pictures.
Adults and little ones alike will get into the Halloween spirit when the UL-Lafayette Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Blaney presents its Annual Halloween Concert. Tuesday, October 30, 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: James Bond, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Danse Macabre and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. The orchestra will also present a world premiere performance of Eric Sharp’s Renegade Convergence featuring the UL Dance Department. 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 or visit music.louisiana.edu/ to view information about all upcoming performances.
UL Art students took a semester abroad this Summer in Paris, France to study as well as site see the historic city. Check out our Facebook Page for more pictures from the trip.