Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Dr. Elisa Dekaney, Associate Professor
Dr. Kelly Chandler-Olcott, Professor and Department Chair
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Composition | Education | Music | Music Performance
This instrumental and dance performance, titled “Uncommon Action: An Interdisciplinary Arts Performance on Ally Involvement”, was designed to raise awareness about bullying and becoming an active ally in the event of bullying. Sixteen student musicians and a team of production assistants were enlisted to produce this interdisciplinary program that was over a year and a half in the making. This production is a unique artistic effort where the classical musicians will also perform as dancers while playing, similar to what is seen in performances by marching bands, drum corps, Stomp, Barrage, Blue Man Group, etc.
The musical piece, commissioned from Eric Maine (’12, B.M. in Music Education), tells the story of a student who suffers the effects of being bullied in school, and the ally who steps in. The story is based on a four-sectioned poem written by Rachel Dentinger. Each section then relates to the four movements of the symphonic music. This type of story music is called program music.
Different instruments represented different “characters” in this original classical piece, with a single cello playing the role of the victim of bullying, and the alto saxophone as the ally, the leading roles. The upper strings and the brass represented the bullies and the woodwinds acted as bystanders. The first half of the performance featured a seated performance, with the performers in traditional concert dress. However, in the second half of the performance, the entire ensemble came alive with movement, lights, colorful costumes, and make-up.
For the larger instruments, such as the cello, bassoon, and tuba, special harnesses were either purchased or engineered to make the dance possible. Rigging for the snare and bass drum were designed based on traditional marching band gear. Most notable for ingenuity and design was the cello mobility device: a cello stand with weighted wheels and casters to allow for the cellists participation in the choreography.
The focus of this project is on becoming an active ally as an empowered bystander in the instance of bullying through the creative elements of music and dance. The performance premiered on February 3rd, 2013 at 2 PM and 4 PM at CNY Jazz Central in downtown Syracuse. The goal now for this performance is to turn it into touring educational programming that visits schools and community centers, to spread the anti-bullying message to students.
Dentinger, Rachel, "Uncommon Action: An Interdisciplinary Arts Performance on Ally Involvement" (2013). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 21.
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