Collaborating Across Divisions | Student Blog

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019
Mei Stone
Admissions Blog
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An orchestra onstage

One of the biggest things that drew me to Juilliard when I was applying to schools was that it has three world-renowned divisions: dance, music, and drama.

I didn’t want to go to a conservatory that only focused on music, but I also worried that going to a large university would make collaboration between art forms difficult. While each of our majors keeps us very busy, in my time here I have had many incredible opportunities to work with dancers and actors. Getting to experience other divisions’ approaches to performance and getting to witness and collaborate with such high quality is both humbling and tremendously inspiring.

Through Juilliard, I’m have a fellowship that gives me and other students work-study opportunities to perform at hospitals and alternative care units around New York City. My main group includes me, a cellist, and two dancers. Every year, we put together interactive programs for the many different types of audiences we play for, from toddlers in a children’s hospital to the elderly in nursing homes. Combining our different skill sets is a fun and unique challenge from the “standard” performances we normally do at school. We’ve had a lot of fun exploring and experimenting with different styles of dance and music and how we can combine them. The fellowship allows us to work with other students as well, so I have often found myself in impromptu groups with actors, dancers, and even musicians whom I'd never met before. I put together a program with two actors last year—just me and the two of them!—so we were challenged to come up with a program that wasn’t just monologue-flute solo-monologue. What I love about working with the actors is that I not only get to hear them recite famous monologues but I also get to take part in them! As we worked together, I learned to get comfortable with improvising under their lines, and with our different perspectives, we are able to create something entirely new. Of all the courses we take and and ensembles we participate in at school, getting to work with other divisions teaches has taught me the most by far.

I find myself fascinated by the training my dancer and actor colleagues receive and execute. It’s easy to feel like my little music-major world is all there is, but I share a building with so many incredible artists. And what’s funny is that each student here is “normal” on the outside—walking down the street, you wouldn’t recognize most of us by our majors (in fact, I would probably only recognize most of the students by their impeccable fashion or their already-perfected New Yorker walk!). But on my lunch break, I get to walk by one of the dance studios and see my classmates choreographing a new work with a mesmerizing amount of agility and grace or listen to someone memorizing lines in between classes. (Almost once a week, I think I hear heated arguments coming from the staircase, only to realize it’s just two actors rehearsing!) Getting to collaborate with other art forms has been so invaluable to my growth as an artist, and I’m so thankful I get to do it in some way every day.

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