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Bounteous response to Performing Arts degree

Friday 21 March 2014 11:16am

Bachelor of Performing Arts students hitting the notes in a performance workshop at the Albany St Studio. Front row L-R: Lydia Bernard, Fiora Stewart, Khan Francis-Smith, Megan Wilson, Verity Martin, Bridget Telfer and Jennifer Schack. Back row L-R: Clement Cizadlo, Michelle Keating, Professional Practice Fellow in Contemporary Voice Nick Hollamby and Luke Farraday. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

Otago’s brand new Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA) degree’s combination of music, theatre and dance has attracted more students than expected, boding well for its future.

Theatre Studies’ Dr Suzanne Little is the degree’s Programme Coordinator, working alongside Music’s Dr Ian Chapman and Physical Education’s Senior Fellow in Dance Studies Ali East to provide a choice of some 20 papers within the degree. It took a year and a half from mid-2012 to draft, plan and obtain approval for the course.

Dr Chapman says, “Twenty-two students have enrolled this year. We would have been happy with 15, so we are pretty pleased. We have the facilities to take many more.”

“There are no new papers as part of this degree,” says Dr Little. “We are banking on already successful, long-running papers in theatre, music and dance. We’ve packaging them together into a degree tailored for ‘blended’ performing arts people. I believe there is only one similar course in the country; others require you to specialise in one area only.”

Yet, while the degree offers compulsory papers in dance, music and theatre, Dr Little says it is possible to use the remaining papers in the degree to increase specialisation in one of the art forms, or to undertake a minor in a subject outside of the performing arts.

Third year BPA students will create one or more performance projects, she says, with the first of these likely to occur in 2015 as some of those enrolled in the degree have transferred from another course and are already in their second year.

Dr Chapman, who is well-known for his own performance activity as his theatrical alter-ego Dr Glam, says, “I would have done this course in a nano-second if it had been available when I began at university.”

Dr Little credits much of the initial interest and demand to the hard work put into promoting the course, particularly through the University’s secondary school liaison officers and the Humanities marketing division.