Art, dance and music go virtual at New College

President Donal O’Shea

Sarasotans love the arts. So, too, do Novo Collegians.

With COVID-19 having temporarily shuttered our city’s theaters, museums and concert halls, we still crave the experience of attending live performances. Since we can’t attend in person, let’s try attending virtually, in real time.

At 4 p.m. Sat. April 18, New College students and dancers from Sarasota Contemporary Dance will participate in a virtual National Water Dance performance. Across the country, participants will livestream their dance on social media as part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to water issues. This year’s event is focused on the climate crisis. In this time of COVID-19 and social distancing, the dance provides a visible opportunity for participants to create a community that reaches out for change.

New College’s Art Department will present its Senior Thesis Art Exhibit in an online virtual platform from April 20 to May 15. The Embodied Mind will be a collection of student paintings that focus on wellbeing, diversity and community. Our graduating students have created these intensely colorful and thought-provoking works of art that explore topics ranging from mental illness to LGBTQ+ community pride. In past years, we celebrated our art students’ accomplishments at a reception in our Isermann Gallery. This year, we will honor them through this virtual exhibit.

New Music New College (NMNC) is planning to livestream the JACK Quartet concert (originally scheduled for April 4 in the Mildred Sainer Pavilion) at a future date. Named the 2018 Ensemble of the Year by Musical America, the quartet will perform Sky Macklay’s Many Many Cadences, Jason Eckhardt’s Testify (a world premiere), and Helmut Lachenmann’s String Quartet No. 3 “Grido.” Please check the NMNC website and Facebook page for more details. In the meantime, there are more than 85 videos of earlier NMNC performances on YouTube.

You can approach these performances in two different ways: one rues the lost ambiance that would have come from physically gathering to watch an event, while another views the listener as experimenting with the artists in a physically distanced gathering. I vote for the second, citing NMNC founder Professor Steve Miles, who has argued for years that artistic performance draws essentially on audience engagement. Artists experiment, and COVID-19 has given us a chance to experiment with them. Let’s take advantage of it.


Don O’Shea


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