The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center aims to “encourage and celebrate the human spirit through the performing and cinematic arts, which connect, stimulate and enrich our communities,” according to its website. Anna Thompson, executive director of DPAC, described the Center’s effort to select performances and build a schedule for the year that will allow audiences to learn, connect and relate.
It is important to Thompson that the performances at the DPAC connect the audience to the artists in the creative process. Students and student groups can often see this process in work by watching practices or even collaborating with the professional artists. For example, this year the Notre Dame Glee Club will perform the classic “Ave Maria” and new setting of the “Salve Regina” with Cantus, a talented vocal ensemble group.
The Center is open to the public, and Thompson likes to view the Center as one of Notre Dame’s bridges from the campus to the community.
“No matter what their point of entry, we want the audience members to feel comfortable. Some people go to showings just for fun, and others are very educated in the arts; we hope both groups feel comfortable walking in our doors,” she explained. To further connect Notre Dame to the South Bend community, DPAC also reaches out with service initiatives – The Center has worked with the Boys and Girls Club and the state prison.
Thompson explained that the Center is informed, as is Notre Dame’s entire campus, by the Catholic mission and character of the University. Although performances that speak to various different religions and cultures will be shown, this year will showcase prominent faith-based performances, especially as the Masters in Sacred Music program, which often collaborates with DPAC, becomes more visible on campus. The Vienna Boys’ Choir, scheduled for Nov. 25, is always a popular performance.
The faith-based performances hold a logical connection to Notre Dame’s mission statement, but Thompson said giving audiences the opportunity to view other cultures and religions is important.
“Ideally, people will think and reflect on the art they witness. It’s like a good homily—a piece of art that touches you should make you think more deeply after experiencing a different person’s perspective,” she offered.
EnsembleND, a new chamber group commissioned by DPAC, will present a program that was inspired by Erwin Schulhoff and “The Theater of Needless Talents.” The “Theater of Needless Talents” refers to the people in concentration camps who continued to create music and art throughout the Holocaust. The beauty of the music composed in these camps, some of which was recovered in later years, is incredible considering the environment in which it was created.
This performance—combining faith, history, dance, and music—is an especially excellent example of the multidisciplinary threads DPAC strives to apply.
In addition to the Masters in Sacred Music program, the Center works with several other departments and groups on campus to commission new works and research in the arts. Some groups often connected with DPAC include: the Department of Art, Art History, and Design; the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre; the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association; the Snite Museum of Art; Shakespeare at Notre Dame; and the Nanovic Center. These collaborations allow the Center to have multidisciplinary threads in their performances, combining everything from “philosophy to visual arts to music to dance,” said Thompson.
This season DPAC will also host four world premieres, including Third Coast Percussion’s “Resounding Earth.” Third Coast Percussion is unique in that they use 120 bells from all over the world, resulting in not only diverse sounds but celebrating a richly cultural aspect.
When asked if she had any particular performances she was looking forward to, Thompson compared the question to being asked to choose one of her children. She did note that the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s performance in March will be exceptional. “It’s an incredible show at an incredible price, especially considering this is the smallest venue in which the Theater has ever performed,” she eagerly explained.
Ellen Roof is a sophomore majoring in business and psychology who is eagerly awaiting the beautiful fall foliage on campus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.