Rodolfo Rafael, Weber State University
In preparation for choreographic projects for my degree, I attended the world-class Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company workshop on an undergraduate grant. The workshop included various subjects, but the most valuable and challenging approach was the emphasis on the “frame” of a work of art and how by changing the frame, the meaning and impact of art is affected. I became interested in the artistic and societal frame of marriage, and decided to use this frame for my student choreographic project. Since it was in an academic setting, I presented the idea in an open-ended manner, one that allowed the students to express their concerns. I was intent not so much on the outcome of the piece, but that the subject of marriage be questioned. I started by having a discussion with the students. I solicited and noted their boundaries. After finding an agreed upon point of compromise on how to approach this issue, we decided to move forward. Unfortunately, some never came back. In fear of losing more students, I changed directions. This experience brought me to a new issue. How much academic freedom do students have? Is higher education supposed to provide a platform where students are free to explore open inquiries? What if others aren’t willing to deal with social issues? Should students change the subject matter of their research to avoid offending others? How do we encourage others to discuss issues they don’t agree on? Is there a way we can find common ground and share the frame?