Mason Artist-in-Residence Program

Each year, several artists and ensembles are chosen for their distinctive and innovative artistic voices and invited to make George Mason University their home for a residency in partnership with its performing arts centers.

Launched during the 2019–2020 season, the Mason Artist-in-Residence program connects artists appearing at the Center for the Arts and the Hylton Performing Arts Center with on- and off-campus communities. Each Artist-in-Residence participates in a variety of activities created to engage and inspire the diverse audiences served by the College of Visual and Performing Arts. These residencies are designed to foster meaningful exchanges between our communities and the Artists-in-Residence, creating opportunities for transformational experiences to happen.

As part of the three-year residency with Silkroad Ensemble, members Karen Ouzounian, cello and Mazz Swift, violin gave a masterclass in January 2023 to string students of Dewberry Family School of Music Prof. June Huang at the Center for the Arts at George Mason University. Fall 2023 features a semester-long class with Silkroad Ensemble, offered through Mason’s Honors College in conjunction with Silkroad’s American Railroad project.
As part of the three-year residency with Silkroad Ensemble, members Karen Ouzounian, cello and Mazz Swift, violin gave a masterclass in January 2023 to string students of Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music Prof. June Huang at the Center for the Arts at George Mason University. Fall 2023 features a semester-long class with Silkroad Ensemble, offered through George Mason’s Honors College in conjunction with Silkroad’s American Railroad project. Photo by Ron Aira/Creative Services/George Mason University

We are proud to welcome these artists into George Mason’s first-class venues on the campuses of a Tier 1 Research University. These residencies transform our stages, studios, and labs into a creative classroom where artistic and intellectual exploration is developed and nurtured. Each season, the performing arts centers partner with today’s leading artistic voices to craft residencies that empower their creative development and deepen connections between artists and the George Mason community. These experiences include everything from technical residencies and new work development to experiential workshops and technology research. We also bring Artists-in-Residence beyond campus, engaging deeply in collaborations across Fairfax County and the wider DMV area.

“One of the most formidable, if not most important, obstacle to creating new performance works at this time is the time, space and know how necessary to put an idea up on its feet and find an audience for it. I was exhilarated to participate in George Mason’s Artist-in-Residence program as it succeeded in … offering a way to the future of new performance!” 

Bill T. Jones 

Current Season

2023–2024 Mason Artists-in-Residence

At Center for the Arts (Fairfax campus)

At Hylton Center (SciTech campus)

Previous Seasons


For the 2022–2023 season, the Center for the Arts welcomed three Mason Artists-in-Residence for intensive collaborations across campus and community:

  • Native American collective with hip-hop influence Indigenous Enterprise“updating what a Native American dance troupe can be” (The New York Times), led a week-long residency in April, including a welcome lunch with students and faculty from George Mason’s Native American and Indigenous Alliance (NAIA) and Center for the Arts staff; an Artists in Conversation event co-presented with the City of Fairfax at the Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center; an interactive workshop with Dewberry School of Music Professor Gregory Robinson’s “Music History in Society” and with Fairfax County Public Schools’ kindergarten, first-, and second-grade classes at Laurel Ridge Elementary School; a lecture/demonstration for members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI); and a pre-performance discussion with local Indigenous Elder Michael Nephew leading up to their program Indigenous Liberation, a joyful celebration of indigenous dance traditions.

The Hylton Center welcomed Artist-in-Residence and two-time GRAMMY Award-winning artist Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience who brought communities together to share South Louisiana Creole culture and Zydeco music. Terrance and the band led workshops and classes for students at George Mason, participants in Lifelong Learning Institute—Manassas, and local schools. In addition, they also welcomed over 1,500 students to two Creole for Kidz field trip performances in Merchant Hall.


During the 2021/2022 season, the Center for the Arts hosted five Mason Artists-in-Residence for a variety of research and engagement activities around the artists’ performances.

  • Kaneza Schaal, visionary director and co-creator of CARTOGRAPHY, continued to work with Mason’s Game Design Program and Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI) to develop technology for a new augmented reality performance piece.
  • Sphinx Virtuosi, the dynamic self-conducting chamber orchestra of top Black and Latinx musicians, led educational and artistic activities across Northern Virginia: Mason students benefited from select classroom visits and masterclasses in Strings and Symphony Orchestra, and local elementary and high schools were treated to virtual and in-person arts demonstrations and performances. Continuing CVPA’s work in the digital sphere, Sphinx Virtuosi also conducted Zoom lecture-demonstrations with Mason Alumni and Northern Virginia Community College students. 
  • Throughout the season, Camille A. Brown & Dancers company members hosted a variety of activities: Founder and choreographer Camille A. Brown held an online Q&A session for the Mason School of Dance community, dancers from Mason’s School of Dance and Fairfax Academy participated in a masterclasses, and the residency organized Mason-wide dance workshops for well-being through Every Body Move.
  • The company of SW!NG OUT engaged with local swing dance groups, area students, Hylton Performing Arts Center’s Veterans and the Arts Initiative, and community members to share the history of swing and Lindy Hop—and get dancing too!
  • GRAMMY winning composer Maria Schneider led a powerful series of events across Mason’s Fairfax and Arlington campuses with students, faculty, staff, and community members, including a public event held in partnership with Mason’s Center for Intellectual Property x Innovation Policy (C-IP2) and Arts Management Program.

The Hylton Performing Arts Center welcomed Artist-in-Residence Ballet Hispánico, bringing communities together to celebrate and explore Latinx cultures. The multi-day residency included in-person and virtual activities with Northern Virginia dancers and community members at the Hylton Center and in area schools.


The 2020-2021 season of Mason Artists-in-Residence combined in-person residencies with virtual ones to continue to serve the artists as well as the Mason and Greater Washington communities throughout the pandemic. The season’s first artist was Grammy® Award-winning Third Coast Percussion who conducted a virtual residency full of masterclasses, discussions, virtual field trips with local middle schools, and lecture-performances. Theater artist Kaneza Schaal began a research residency leading up to the Center for the Arts performance of CARTOGRAPHY in the 2021-2022 season. This residency works closely with Mason’s Game Design Program and Virginia Serious Games Institute to develop augmented reality tools to be used in future performance projects. D.C.-based Step Afrika!, the world’s first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, completed a residency to rehearse and record a new dance film from the Hylton Performing Arts Center as well as conducting virtual field trips as part of its education outreach.

Learn More About the 2020-2021 Season


The inaugural year of residencies in 2019-2020 featured “Latin Alternative” powerhouse quartet  LADAMA  for five jam-packed days in October 2019 working with more than 1,450 community participants, and a week-long technical residency with world-renowned dance company Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in January 2020 for their world premiere of What Problem? featuring nearly 30 community members.