Barnard College has a long-standing reputation for its impressive achievements in humanities and the arts. Under the guidance of faculty trailblazers from various fields, undergraduates produce distinct, creative projects that showcase their academic skills and individuality.
A senior project or thesis is a crucial opportunity extended to all theatre/drama and theatre arts majors, whether from Barnard, Columbia College, or Columbia General Studies. This is a time for students to develop records of individual research that include theoretical engagement in the major discipline, the development of creative projects or research, and original empirical and interpretive analysis. For dancers, who presented their senior projects March 25 - 26, theirs took the form of a creative thesis.
Professor of professional practice in dance Colleen Thomas-Young, who advised all 19 seniors, along with associate professor of professional practice Marjorie Folkman, noted that as this was the first senior creative thesis to take place in person in three years, this year’s performances differed greatly from past years. “The majority of our seniors had never even experienced a senior creative thesis performance during their time at Barnard. This made their experience completely new and fed the experimental nature of their research, as well as fueled their extreme power towards making this a passionate and deep dive into their own artistic individuality and expression,” said Thomas-Young. “I’ve never seen a class so hungry for and thus driven to this shift into deep sensation in their experience. This manifested in each individual dance.”
According to Thomas-Young, the throughline that connected the 19 theses was individuality and challenging oneself with a completely unknown aesthetic; prompting personal growth and power by facing a deep discomfort; healing through movement; and recognizing the power of the body and mind to propel us forward into freedom and flight.
And they delivered. “This class will remain one of my most treasured,” said Thomas-Young. “I admire every single one of these dancers’ artistry, humility, care toward each other, and grace. The way we all came together as we navigated each change and surprise only fed our innate experiential knowledge that improvisation and movement has the power to heal.”
This year’s exhibition, titled Whose Spirit Is This?, featured 19 seniors who addressed technology by “locating older modes of communication within the new. The artists cross-wire the analog with the digital to exhume the occult and claim a space of self-definition.”
The show, which ran April 25 - May 2 (with an opening reception on April 28), was curated by Piper Marshall and Caroline Weinstock ’20, visual arts and curatorial assistant, with professors Joan Snitzer, John Miller, and Irena Haiduk as the advisers. Highlighting art pieces from graduates of the Barnard Visual Arts Program, the exhibition “offered a point of engagement for artists and colleagues to exchange and reflect on the social, political, and esthetic conditions and knots that perplex and propel their work.” This year marked the visual arts program’s 13th-year edition at the Louise McCagg Gallery and the 33rd since it launched “to secure a space for artists and colleagues to question and disinter the spirits accompanying inquiry.”
—ZUYU SHEN '24, TARA TERRANOVA '25