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Celebrating the 2018 DTE Educators of the Year

Yeal Rothfeld receives her award.

The University Musical Society (UMS) and the DTE Energy Foundation are pleased to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. High School Teacher Denise Allen and Thurston Elementary School Teacher Yael Rothfeld as the 2018 DTE Energy Foundation Educators of the Year.

The award recognizes and celebrates excellence in arts education, lifting up the importance of the arts as a way of teaching 21st-century knowledge and skills, including creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and familiarity with local and global cultures. The recipients were nominated through a public nomination process. The DTE Energy Foundation is sponsoring the awards as part of its annual grant support for UMS Youth Education Programs.

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A dance educator at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Detroit, Denise Allen is a noted champion for the inclusion of the “A for Arts” in STEAM. Ms. Allen runs one of the few performing arts programs that has remained within Detroit Public Schools throughout its years of emergency management and one of just a handful of dance programs offered for credit at high schools throughout Southeast Michigan. She organizes after-school rehearsals, special evening and weekend performances, and master classes with guest artists, as well as student fundraisers that provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills. Several of Ms. Allen’s students have gone on to study with professional dance companies, but the discipline, confidence, and focus instilled in learning the craft has also led her students to success in academics and other areas of life.

Ms. Allen’s commitment to inclusivity in her program is especially laudable. To allow any student who wishes to participate the opportunity to do so, she arranges transportation, provides healthy snacks, and purchases costumes and supplies for students who are in need. She also invites autistic students to her dance performances at no cost, encouraging the use of the movement, rhythm, and sound embedded in dance as both physical and communicative therapy. She has made a big difference in the lives of young male students, encouraging them to explore and enjoy their interest in dance and to enjoy it without fear of shame from their male peers.

Yael Rothfeld has been a vocal music educator at Thurston Elementary School in Ann Arbor for 15 years. Ms. Rothfeld works with students in Preschool through Fifth Grade, developing her curriculum in a way that demonstrates to her students the importance of music throughout the world, in her students’ own communities, and in the life of their school. She organizes regular performances for her students, giving them an opportunity to set and work toward specific goals, and to use music as a powerful tool to communicate around ideas and issues that are relevant to their everyday lives.

Ms. Rothfeld continuously develops new programs and ideas for her students so they can grow through hands-on experiences with different instruments and techniques. In 2015, she launched a successful fundraiser to purchase ukuleles — an instrument that lends itself particularly well to teaching melody, harmony, singing, improvising, and storytelling — for Thurston to add another layer of music to the school curriculum. She also leverages resources offered by regional arts organizations to further her own professional development, bringing new ideas and techniques back to her classroom and taking students out of the school to experience live performances by professional artists.

The DTE Energy Foundation is sponsoring the awards as part of its annual grant support to UMS Youth Education Programs.

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Video: The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess

Considered one of the greatest operas of its time, The University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, & Dance details the significance of performing The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess in concert.

UMS presents The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess: Opera in Concert in association with the School of Music, Theatre, & Dance on Saturday, February 17.

K-12 Students, Teachers, Artists Come Together for Special Residency

Last year, we worked with 400+ students and teachers during a residency with Ping Chong + Company. What happened may brighten your day.

UMS hosted Ping Chong + Company for an extended artistic residency during the 2017-18 performance season. This residency involved a diverse population ranging from public events, University groups, and seven high schools from throughout southeast Michigan.

Watch Online: Complicite / Simon McBurney The Encounter

Watch online May 19-25

We are excited to partner with Complicite to broadcast The Encounter online!

Described as “one of the most fully immersive theater pieces ever created” by the New York Times, The Encounter was performed live in Ann Arbor this spring following a three-month Broadway run. For a limited time, The Encounter is available for online viewing.

Audiences must wear headphones to watch The Encounter online, or the effect of the immersive binaural recording will be lost. 

Sign up for email updates about future streams (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).

Ken Fischer in Conversation with U-M Students

Throughout Ken Fischer’s 30-year tenure as president of UMS, he’s made it a priority to be surrounded by young people and to spend time with any student who reaches out. Whether they meet in his office or go out for a cup of coffee, he shares his stories, provides guidance, creates opportunities, and leaves students feeling inspired.

We’ve captured some of these conversations in a series of four videos. Experience them below and be sure to check back as new videos are released.

Ken with Chelsea Reighard

U-M Medical student
Captured November 23, 2016

Ken with Olivia Johnson

U-M School of Music, Theatre, & Dance masters student
Captured June 14, 2017

Ken with Westley Montgomery

U-M School of Music, Theatre, & Dance student
Captured June 22, 2017

Ken with Kat DeBartolomeis

U-M Communications Studies student
Captured December 19, 2016

2017-18 Season Video

Performance Livestream Archives

We livestreamed three performances from our 2016-17 season for online viewers. Experience them again — or for the first time — by viewing the archived streams below.

Sign up for email updates about future streams (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).


idiot-syncrasy momentIdiot Syncrasy
Igor and Moreno
Igor Urzelai 
and Moreno Solinas, creators

Performed Saturday, January 14, 2017
in Arthur Miller Theatre


beyond sacre productionBeyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity
Ping Chong + Company
Written by Ping Chong and Sara Zatz, with Ryan Conarro

Performed Saturday, February 18, 2017
in Power Center for the Performing arts


Third Coast PercussionSteve Reich @ 80
Music for 18 Musicians
Eighth Blackbird and Third Coast Percussion

Performed Saturday, March 18, 2017
in Hill Auditorium

Local dancers rehearse for Sleeping Beauty

In 2016, we followed young dancers from our area as they prepared for American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Sleeping Beauty. ABT returns in 2017 with Romeo and Juliet.

Updated 6/2/2017.

Our Very Own Audra McDonald Round Up

audra mcdonald
Audra McDonald. Photo by Andrew Eccles. 

We can’t wait for the return of six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald. She’ll perform at Hill Auditorium on September 17, 2015.

UMS has had the honor of presenting Audra McDonald a few times over the course of recent year, and the singer has been very generous with her time with students, staff, and more.

Here’s a round up of our favorite Audra McDonald moments in the past few years.

1. The one where she raves about Ann Arbor audiences:

2. The one where she sings a birthday song for Hill Auditorium:

3. The one where she answers questions from University of Michigan students:

4. And of course, the one where we got to ask a few questions.

What are your favorite Audra McDonald moments?

Inspiring Artists Through Performance

UMS launched a new artists in residence program during our 2014-2015 season. Artists received complimentary tickets to our performances, a stiped, and more. We hoped to inspire creative work with performance. In this video, our first cohort share their experiences of the program.

The application for the 2015-2015 Artists in Residence program is open July 20-August 3, 2015. Apply now.

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