RONIT EISENBACH, Architect + Artist, Associate Professor of Architecture, UMD School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
When I was a young college student at the Rhode Island School of Design, there was a lecture by John Cage. I didn’t know who he was and I had no idea what to expect. I just remember him sitting at a table at the bottom of this great auditorium, which was completely filled with people, and he told us that because we were students who might become makers ourselves someday, he wanted to explain something he was going to do.
…I was zoning in and out, sometimes frustrated, sometimes bored. But every once in a while, a phrase made sense and stimulated my own thoughts.
GABRIELLA MEITERMAN-RODRIGUEZ, Dance Student, UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
When I was younger, I had to perform an improvised dance solo and I was really nervous because at that time my confidence level in my own dancing was not where it is now. But my professor believed in me so much that he decided to make a fool of himself with me and improvise with me. My solo turned into a duet and it just became really fun, really free, and that’s how I feel with dance now. He basically pushed me light years ahead of myself at a young age.
It’s one of the best things ever, knowing your teachers believe in you and are willing to put themselves out there with you.
BOBBY ASHER, Associate Director of Artistic Initiatives, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
When I was five years old, a man joined the church where I went with my parents. He played the trumpet during services, and as soon as I heard that sound I knew that I wanted to play. A couple of weeks later I cut up an old water hose and made a trumpet. A few months after that, my parents bought me a used cornet from a pawn shop. I was on my way.
All of the experiences in my life…can in some way be traced back to that moment.
ANNE BOGART, Artistic Director, SITI Company
When I was a school kid in Providence, Rhode Island, I was brought in on a yellow bus one day to the Trinity United Methodist Church, where the Trinity Repertory Company was performing Macbeth, directed by Adrian Hall.
I was 15 years old and that day turned me into a director.
…I didn’t understand what was happening…and yet I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Be a director.
JAMES NEAL, Librarian, UMD Master of Library Science, 2012
I have been a jazz fan since the age of three when my father first played John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" for me. I have enjoyed jazz performances all over the United States — at the Village Vanguard in New York City, the Kennedy Center in DC, the Spoleto festival in Charleston, SC and all over the Boston area at Sculler's, the Somerville Theater, the Hatch Shell and the Regatta Bar.
Seeing Holland live and meeting him were on my jazz "bucket list." Thanks to the Center, I can check that one off.
MONICA WARREN, Artist Services Coordinator, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
I have been sitting at my desk, neck straining toward the tasks piling up on my computer screen. My right shoulder is tight from unconsciously gripping the mouse and from the worries of the day. It’s 5:54pm and I need to leave in exactly six minutes to get to rehearsal on time. I scurry to gather my things, making a mental list of chores I can’t forget for tonight and tomorrow. Juggle, juggle, juggle —even all the way to the studio, through the evening traffic.
I join the other dancers and lay myself flat onto the studio’s hard and beautiful wooden floor. I close my eyes. This is a moment of true beauty.
GERCHEL E. HOLBERT, Market Auditor
I remember going to my first performance by the Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra, followed by the opening night party. My godfather, Kenneth Ervin Kilgore, made this moment possible. It was one of the many ways he encouraged me to wonder and to be consciously apart of the larger creation.
We were all one that night, artists and spectators alike.
MURRAY HORWITZ, Playwright, director, lyricist
Sometime in my sophomore year at Kenyon College, 1967-68, the James Cotton Blues Band came to campus. Kenyon in those days was a men’s school and it was a dance weekend so there were women there but it was still mostly guys and I didn’t have a date. So I was unhappily unencumbered. I’ve always been good at getting near the stage at rock and pop music concerts, and I actually got up on the stage for that one.
I’m lying on the floor underneath the piano with the music all around me and looking over at James Cotton dancing that little two-step … and it was just really transforming.
HEIDI ONKST, UMD Senior Director, Individual Philanthropy and Regional Programs
A few years ago I had the opportunity to see Dan Hurlin’s Disfarmer at the Center. I had read about it beforehand, so I knew the story: the hermit photographer who managed to capture incredible images of the people he lived among, even though he was an outsider. I had gone to one of Dan Hurlin’s discussions before the performance so I understood about Mike Disfarmer’s background and what they were about to bring to me onstage.
…To actually see the story unfold through puppetry was amazing. I’ll never forget seeing the Disfarmer puppet get smaller as the production went on, shrinking down until he was nobody.
KATE GIBSON, Production Coordinator, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
I have a plaque on my desk that says, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. – Walt Disney”
Ballet is the only art form I ever studied in which I didn’t dream of a career. I didn’t realize until I was an adult struggling through life as a theatre artist how much I appreciated having an art form that remained a hobby.
It…led to me going back onto pointe - for no reason other than proving to myself that I could.