Each year, several artists and ensembles are chosen for their distinctive and innovative artistic voices and invited to make Mason 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.
We are proud to welcome these artists into 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 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.
For the 2022–2023 season, the Center for the Arts welcomed three Mason Artists-in-Residence for intensive collaborations across campus and community:
- Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, Bangalore-based “rock stars of the dance world” (New York Post) and Sri Lankan ensemble Chitrasena Dance Company participated in 10 events over the course of a week in November, including a co-presented Artists in Conversation event with the City of Fairfax at the Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center; two lecture/demonstrations for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and for Fairfax County Public School system fourth-graders at Hunters Woods Elementary School; a public Odissi dance class at Dance Place in Washington, D.C.; classroom visits with the Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music “World Music” course taught by Prof. Christopher Troiano and Game Design Program’s “Digital Game Design” course, taught by Prof. Boris Willis, exploring how technology including virtual reality plays a part in Nrityagram Dance Ensemble’s work; two masterclasses with Mason School of Dance students; and an interactive workshop with George Mason University’s Sri Lankan Student Association. The residency culminated with the mesmerizing performance and collaboration between Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and the Chitrasena Dance Company on Āhuti, deftly combining Odissi and Kandyan dance.
- GRAMMY-winning, radical cultural collaborators Silkroad Ensemble launched the first of a three-year residency at the Center, with January events and an interactive lobby installation leading up to the performance of Uplifted Voices, a moving program championing the women and non-binary members of the group. The ensemble led masterclasses with students from the Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music who study under Director of Strings June Huang; a class discussion in George Mason University’s Women and Gender Studies100: “Global Representations of Women” course, taught by Prof. Holly Mason Badra, Associate Director of Mason’s Women and Gender Studies Program; and a workshop with Music and Technology high school students at Fairfax Academy of Communication and Performing Arts.
- 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 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 classesat 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 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.
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.