Fine Arts students act on ideas in Lopes Live Labs

August 24, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

William Symington points College of Fine Arts and Production students to numerous Lopes Live Lab opportunities.

Editor’s note: This is an expanded excerpt from the cover story on Lopes Live Labs in the August 2021 issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU Magazine

From theatre and dance to music and design, College of Fine Arts and Production students at Grand Canyon University are granted access to numerous Lopes Live Labs to hone their crafts.

Dr. Juan Hernandez

One of these labs can be found in the implementation of musical ensembles.

 “They put together everything they’ve learned,” Assistant Dean of Music Dr. Juan Hernandez said. “It’s an opportunity for them to do something that they’re going to be doing once they graduate and have their own jobs.”

This is done through students performing in a musical ensemble as well as music education students gaining experience conducting an ensemble.

Second Series productions are brought to life in GCU’s Black Box Theatre, where shows are directed and produced by students after they have completed their Directing I course. This can include the creation of simple scenery, costuming and sound effects/designs.

It’s an opportunity that many students do not take for granted.

“Many of our students that have graduated have said that Second Series was really one of the most important experiences during their time in college,” Assistant Dean of Theatre and Dance William Symington said. “It’s really learning by doing, and it creates kind of an entrepreneurial environment where they have to create everything.

“It really is a lab in the truest sense. It’s a place to experiment and try new things to create a safe space where you can get that experience.”

Students who participate in Ethington Theatre productions also are offered experiences to help prep them for the professional world.

“Some of these professional theatre companies and performing arts companies, one of the greatest expenses they have is when they build things, whether it’s costumes in the costume shop, hair and makeup, wig designs and obviously set designs,” he said. “Nowhere else do you get the opportunity to get your hands on those sorts of things and be able to ultimately practice, to experiment, to create things without it being a huge financial risk or difficulty.

“We have not only the materials but the staff to instruct them and guide them, and it’s an incredibly special opportunity that you just don’t get everywhere else.”

The GCU Dance studio offers a space for students to create and rehearse choreography. 

Similarly, the GCU Dance Studios offer students a creative space for concert rehearsals, choreography, collaboration and other needs that can be hard to find in the professional world.

“It’s definitely a huge opportunity that we can’t stress enough,” Dance Director Bekki Price said.

The studios feature state-of-the-art technology, including sprung floors to help with injury prevention, mirrors and even cellphone-holding devices to help students film their work. And on Monday nights, dance majors and minors lead classes open to anyone on campus.

Design United gives students a taste of the professional world of design. Acting as a student club and ad agency, the group does design work for nonprofits and has plans to start working more with different GCU departments to service their design needs.

“I think what is rare is dedicated collaborative spaces and also us having a student group that acts as an ad agency,” said Assistant Professor of Design Chris Murphy.

Digital design students also have access to a photography studio and can rent top-quality equipment for specific projects.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


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