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‘make : magnify’ facilitates multi-disciplinary collaboration

The arts festival, put on by students, runs for one performance Saturday at 4 p.m.
Image by Talia Marcus (courtesy)
The festival is being planned by students in the year-long “Dance Production” class. The event features eight artists who specialize in various art forms, a portrait photographer and an emcee.

A multi-disciplinary arts festival featuring student and community artists, titled “make : magnify,” will be presented Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Barbara Barker Center for Dance before moving to two other locations in the West Bank Arts Quarter at the University of Minnesota.

The festival is being planned by students in the “Dance Production” course, a two-semester-long class that teaches them how to produce an entire show, according to Talia Marcus, a University dance student and the head of programming and tech for “make : magnify.”

The festival features eight artists, whose work ranges from painting to dance to animation, a portrait photographer and an emcee who will guide the guests through the three locations used for the event. 

Marcus said previous shows put on by the class were typical black box theater performances, but the producers for “make : magnify” wanted to branch out and create a festival-style event incorporating many different styles of art from a variety of artists.

The eight artists applied for the festival separately with an idea of what they wanted to create and were later placed into one of three groups with people who specialize in different disciplines from their own, Marcus said. From there, the groups would devise a 15- to 25-minute piece over a two-week residency period. 

“We were looking for people who were really excited and open to the idea of working with artists of different disciplines from themselves, and who were really excited about multidisciplinary work and kind of non-traditional performance,” Marcus said.

One of the artists in the first group, Hannah MacKenzie-Margulies, is a choreographer and dancer who applied for the festival after seeing the open call in a newsletter called DanceMN. She originally applied with the idea of a duet between a dancer and a ghost, but after getting grouped with her two collaborators, Alana Horton and Amital Shaver, they created a different piece that incorporated all of their ideas. 

The group’s piece is called “No Stable Climax” and includes dancing, poetry, music and elements of improvisation, MacKenzie-Margulies said. The piece will also contain themes of Americana, nostalgia and scientific concepts of natural succession.

MacKenzie-Margulies said the piece is open to interpretation, as her biggest goal is for audiences to feel like they went on an emotional journey with the performers, no matter how small.

“My hope is always just that people feel something and that we kind of break through the numbness or the walls that we sort of put up to protect ourselves in these hard days and hard times,” MacKenzie-Margulies said.

All of the teams featured include at least one University student, Marcus said. The incredibly collaborative nature between student and community artists in “make : magnify” is one of the values the producers of the festival want to uphold. 

“There’s not many spaces where students and professionals can create together in a space where both are respected and both of their opinions and ideas are being met with enthusiasm,” Marcus said.

This collaboration has been particularly valuable for Ella Kooyer, a fourth-year University dance and French student, who was matched with artists Merit Thursday and Ren Edson for their piece. They said events like “make : magnify” allow for them to sink their teeth into the Twin Cities theater scene with established community artists.

The group’s piece is titled “Ex Nihilo,” which means “from nothing” or “out of nothing,” and is inspired by creation stories with Kooyer portraying a creature in the group’s version of an origin story. 

For “Ex Nihilo,” Thursday created an animation in the “crankie” style, which has the story scroll along on a projection while hand-cranked, Kooyer said. Edson created multiple set pieces, including various picture frames and masks. 

Kooyer said the Twin Cities art community is “yearning for collaboration,” especially after the COVID-19 lockdowns. 

“At the core, this festival is about community and just coming together and just spending real time together in a space and creating for two weeks,” Kooyer said. “It’s short and fast, but I won’t be letting go of these connections. I think they’re gonna stick with me for a long time.”

“make : magnify” opens tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the Barbara Barker Center for Dance, with a reception following the program. To reserve a spot, use their RSVP form.

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