Your donations to HSPVA Friends help fund the essentials of HSPVA’s rigorous fine arts curriculum. We aim to provide the best educational, professional, and artistic opportunities for current and future students. We want to ensure our students have access to the resources and opportunities they need to excel in their craft, regardless of their financial background.
A vital component of HSPVA’s curriculum is the plethora of guest artist residencies students across the art areas benefit from every year. Guest artists supplement the HSPVA curriculum with skills, styles, and perspectives beyond the faculty’s expertise.
Residencies are one-of-a-kind opportunities for sustained engagement with some of the country’s top working artists. Unlike a one-time masterclass, a residency allows guests artists to be on campus for days or even weeks. Artists and students develop a lasting mentor/mentee relationship. The artists get to see the students grow and tailor advanced curriculum based on the students’ individual and collective growth year to year.
Residencies occur in every department. This year, they included jazz saxophonist Shelley Carrol (’82), who worked with the Jazz ensembles and performed in the Fall Jazz Concert; Houston theatre artists Dylan Godwin, Susan Koozin, Stephanie Wittels Wachs (’99), and Bree Welch, who directed the Theatre Departments’ Studio Series productions; and choreographers Parker Esse (’95), Allysen Hooks (’06), and Liz Koeppen from David Parsons Dance, who set pieces for the two annual dance concerts and worked with all of the dance students for a week.
With only two full-time faculty members, the Dance Department is particularly dependent on guest artist residencies. As a result, students are exposed to more points of view and can discover and experiment with different styles.
“Residencies open up experiences for our dancers in college and beyond,” said Dance Department Chair Janie Carothers (’84). “The networking opportunities they provide are invaluable for helping students take the next step in their careers.”
HSPVA alumni are included in each year’s roster of guest artists. According to Carothers, “Alumni guest artists have a vital pulse on what’s going on in the dance world. Alumni understand our program. They can talk about what HSPVA did for them and where our students will go next.”
Check out some photos of guest choreographed pieces and find out what HSPVA Dance students have to say about their experiences working with resident guest artists:
“Working with Liz Koeppen to learn The Envelope by David Parsons was honestly the most amazing experience throughout my years at HSPVA. We were able to perform with the David Parsons company, which was an eye-opener for me and made me realize I want to join a professional company. I was also able to work with David Parsons himself! Without HSPVA Friends, I would not have had these unforgettable memories of performing a famous piece and working with a dance icon. Thank you for making it possible for guest choreographers to come to HSPVA!”
– Lexi Blake (’17)
The Envelope – David Parsons
Photo by Lynn Lane
“My experience working with Broadway choreographer Parker Esse (’95) was truly unforgettable and extraordinarily inspiring. The first day he walked in, he sat us down and got to know a little bit about every single person. He showed us he cared and wanted to impact our lives, even if in the slightest way. For the rest of the week we learned so much about not only dance but what life is like as a professional dancer and choreographer. He taught us his process of choreographing musicals and taught us how to be marketable in auditions. Mr. Esse’s energy radiated throughout the studios daily and motivated me to want to keep working hard and to learn more. He knew how to pull the best out of everyone and helped everyone come together and finish learning two full Broadway dance numbers in just three days. He is one of the choreographers that I will always remember because of how much he influenced my career and life.”
– Erin Hollamon (’17)
Dancin’ Man/Sing Sing Sing! – Bob Fosse
Restaged by Parker Esse
Photo by Jann Whaley
These unique experiences would not be possible without HSPVA Friends and donors like you! If you want to help make these kinds of experiences possible for HSPVA students, donate to the HSPVA Friends Annual Fund! Your support goes a long way!
Learn more about HSPVA Friends and how it supports Houston’s young artists!