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UMS Night School: Constructing Identity – Session 3 Recap

By David Foley

Please note: This post is a part of series about the free and open to the public UMS Night School.UMS Night School: Constructing Identity runs January 18-February 15, 2016.

On Monday February 1, I attended my first UMS Night School session. For this particular week, we were lucky to have special guests Tanya Tagaq, performing February 2 at 7:30 pm, and Taylor Mac, performing February 5-6 at 8pm. The turnout for this session was high and the crowd was excited and interested to hear what the artists had to say in this casual yet upbeat interview.

Jim Leija (UMS Director of Education and Community Engagement) and Clare Croft (U-M Assistant Professor of Dance).

Taylor Mac and Tanya TagaqPictured from Left to Right: Clare Croft, Taylor Mac, Tanya Tagaq, Jim Leija

Taylor and Tanya took turns talking about their upbringing. They were both expected to adhere to the social norms of their respective communities. At a certain point, both Taylor and Tanya were tired of being told to follow the rules and decided to rebel by branching out and letting their true identities be known. Taylor stated, “When I am on stage you listen to me, I am in charge!”

What is your artistic family tree?

Both Taylor and Tanya were influenced by music and other art forms at a very young age, and neither of them are classically trained musicians. Improvisation is important to both of them as performers, because it makes each show unique and special in its own way. Both artists use their performances as a way to connect with the audience in a profound way and always have an important message they hope to portray.

The floor was then opened up to audience questions. It was refreshing to learn that both Taylor and Tanya have changed over time as performers and to learn about what their ultimate goals were at a younger age as well as what they are now. As a student, I have sometimes been scared of becoming  pigeon-holed into one career mindset when in reality there are multiple options and ways to achieve my ultimate goals.

The class was a fun and awesome learning experience; it was interesting to gain more perspective about different upbringings and lifestyle choices that people from vastly different regions can have.

UMS Night School sessions are free and open to the public. Drop into one or attend them all, no registration required.

Don’t miss the next class on Constructing Identity Together: Artists and Audiences with specials guests: Robin Wilson, Michael Parmelee, Daniele Fattore, and Salina Moeljadi, Monday February 8 at 7:00 pm.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

From Eugene, Oregon, David Foley is completing his Master's Degree in Saxophone at the University of Michigan. An active performer of new works and transcriptions, David enjoys working as a soloist and in chamber groups of multiple instrumentation. David is also very excited to be working at UMS.

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