Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sharing Dance in Upstate NY

I feel really fortunate to be doing what I am doing this week. This week, I am on tour to upstate New York with Gesel Mason Performance Projects, performing and teaching at SUNY-Potsdam and SUNY-Albany. It has been fascinating to see how these engagements are put together and how they work, and such a joy to teach new students.

When we pulled into Potsdam on Saturday, I was doubtful; the town is tiny. That said, my opinions changed quickly as we met the students and faculty and saw the campus. I of course let me curiosity lead me as much as time would allow, exploring the tiny downtown and it's gems. They've got a neat little co-op (and it looks like a lot of people with hippy ideals to go with it), an Elks lodge, an ACE Hardware and lots of local restaurants. I have not seen a single fast food place. There is a Walmart, but apparently it is out on the edge of town.

The faculty have been very gracious, welcoming us into their homes and making sure we get to and from where we need to be, even though most of those distances are walkable. I enjoyed the walk to campus yesterday, and can envision how this can work for people. I suppose it is easy to say that when you've only been somewhere half a week. The airport IS four hours away THROUGH a forested mountain park (Adirondack State Park). Regardless, it is a neat community.

My host, the chair of the Theater and Dance Department at Potsdam, was telling me that the area has a history of holding a teacher's college, which is part of what attracted so many educational institutions to the area. There are now three colleges in the 17,000 person town. I was not expecting campus to be very diverse, but it absolutely is. Apparently Potsdam has a pretty effective recruitment system in NYC.

The old, institutional buildings were the norm, though they are currently in the process of finishing up a brand new Performing Arts Center. Apparently, the building project has been a sight of some tension on campus, with a lot of folks wondering why the newest building is going to the arts. My guess is that careful research and development campaigns backed the choice :)

Being 20 miles from the Canadian border, some folks joke that this is 'SUNY-Canada.' This is pretty good evidence;

Definitely exciting :)  To include some more images of the trip, a captures of the street where my home stay is located (third house down) and some pictures of my room in my humble New England guest abode;  

The Co-Op

The Elks's Lodge

Potsdam Campus

I look forward to seeing what the second leg of the trip will include!