Students Improvise for Family Weekend Performance – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Students Improvise for Family Weekend Performance

Professor of Dance Donna Davenport works with students in the bi-disciplinary course, "Composing Works: Music & Dance Composition." The course is taught by Davenport and Associate Professor of Music Mark Olivieri.
Professor of Dance Donna Davenport works with students in the course, “Composing Works: Music & Dance Composition.” The course is taught by Davenport and Associate Professor of Music Mark Olivieri.

During Homecoming and Family Weekend, students in “Composing Works: Music & Dance Collaborations” performed themed improvisations and collaborations by dancers and musicians.

The course, co-taught by Professor of Dance Donna Davenport and Associate Professor of Music Mark Olivieri, is designed to engage students interested in collaborative composition with other musicians and dancers. The format brings the professional world of choreography and performance to the classroom, where students learn that improvisation, communication and collaborative creativity are essential.

“It’s great to see the connections between the dancers and musicians during the daily group improvs,” says Elena Parkins ’18, teaching assistant for the course. “Within each class, you can see tangible growth in students’ confidence and collaborative abilities.”

Olivieri, who joined the Colleges’ faculty in 2010, holds a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, a M.M. from Ithaca College Music Conservatory and a B.M. from Heidelberg College. A productive composer, Olivieri receives numerous commissions, performances and recordings of his work from artists throughout the U.S. and abroad. In 2015, Olivieri had his Carnegie Hall debut when his composition, Hommage á Trois for solo piano was performed by Richard Steinbach. His triple concerto, Open Secrets, for piano, viola and flute premiered in Medellín, Colombia in the spring of 2016. His teaching spans music composition, theory, history and performance. On campus, he has served on the Committee on Faculty and as coordinator of the Guest Artist Concert series. He also directs the Colleges’ jazz ensemble.

A leader in the Colleges’ Dance Department since 1990, Davenport has served as the Koshare faculty adviser, associate dean of faculty and the First-Year Seminar program director. In addition to her collaborative work with the Department of Music, Davenport leads courses exploring composition, modern dance, jazz, theory and semiotics. With her research primarily focused on composition, she has presented at numerous conferences throughout the globe hosted by the University of Auckland and the National Dance Education Organization. In Geneva, Davenport collaborates with colleagues and students to bring dance education to the local community, most recently through summer programming at the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva. Davenport earned her educational doctorate, master’s in education and a bachelor of fine arts degree from Temple University.

The performance took place on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 4 p.m. in Deming Theatre of Gearan Center for the Performing Arts. View coverage of Homecoming and Family Weekend through social media, photo galleries and stories on the HFW news feed.