Show must go on at Toledo School for the Arts

TOLEDO — From Broadway performers to major symphony orchestras, organizations have found innovative ways
to keep creating performances and presenting them to audiences. Toledo School for the Arts is no
different, practicing creative problem solving in the arts-based education.
Spring semester at TSA usually comes with several large-scale performances, including the capstone event
for the school, Kaleidoscope.
The teachers and students at TSA, though, have shown themselves ready to prove that the show can and must
go on in the face of the pandemic. Actors, dancers, musicians and fashion designers are preparing
performances to share with their audiences in a new way.
While a typical TSA fashion show includes a runway and fast backstage changes, the school’s program has
turned towards a photo and print presentation. Fashion design students are creating their first fashion
magazine, which will be available in late spring through the school store.
Each designer has been working at home and occasionally at school developing individual looks to fit into
the categories of formal wear, casual wear, androgynous wear and cosplay.
“Although it has been a very different type of school year, it’s been encouraging to see the students
continuing to work from home,” said Angie Patchett, TSA costume and fashion instructor. “We have had a
blast getting together for socially distanced photo shoots downtown, at Wildwood Metropark and at the
Toledo Club. We have future plans for shoots at the Toledo Museum of Art and the Toledo Zoo.”
The spring play, William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” has been adapted into TSA’s first feature length
movie, under the direction of Juliette Quinlan and Megan Aherne.
Aherne, TSA’s video production teacher, is filming each of the 13 actors individually against a green
screen for everyone’s safety, then editing them to appear together.
“We have all stepped out of our comfort zones to try something challenging and new,” Aherne said of the
process. “It’s great to have the reciprocal support and trust to be able to do so.”
Filming also provides an opportunity for students to explore the differences between acting for the stage
and the screen. A release date for the film has not been set.
Music students at TSA are preparing to release virtual concerts. Recording or filming music presents its
own challenges and is a critical skill for success in the music world.
“A recording lives a long time, where a performance is over in a second,” said Artistic Director David
Saygers. “There’s a lot of pressure to play without errors when you make a recording, because it’s
expensive and time-consuming to correct. And mistakes live there in that recording. Audiences are
prepared to hear perfect musical recordings, so the pressure can be pretty high.”
Learning how to manage that pressure is one of the opportunities the coronavirus has presented to young
musicians.
Two of TSA’s mainstage dance offerings will also be offered in a digital format. Dance instructors Alison
Reny and K. Miranda Calhoun are recording performances that will be offered to the public.
Alison Reny’s Limitless Dance Company partnered with Buckeye Cable Arts Network to recreate a full-length
dance show on video. Some of the filming took place at the Ohio Theater, with dancers performing in
socially distanced groupings. BCAN filmed the performances and will edit the show to be presented on
both ArtsWatch (TSA’s streaming service) and on BCAN. In addition, many numbers were videotaped by the
school in locations around the Toledo area, highlighting the interaction of the choreography and the
setting.
The Graffiti Project is an all hip hop show at TSA, choreographed and produced by K. Miranda Calhoun. To
explore this established art form of music videos, each class has prepared dances through Zoom to
showcase the evolution of hip hop and the growth of music in video production by one of the most iconic
artists, Beyoncé.
“I am very excited and proud of the dedication and energy each student has shown in class during these
tough times,” Calhoun said. “Although we are all excited to get back in to the classroom, we are more
excited to showcase the product we have created that was all learned through video meets on Zoom!
Bringing hip hop live in different forms is always a great way to continue the growth of the style.”
Perhaps the biggest undertaking for the semester is the school’s year-end show piece, Kaleidoscope. All
performances are being filmed in advance of the May release date.
“We all consume most of our arts entertainment through film or video, so we’re embracing the opportunity
to explore how what we do and teach in the school interacts with the real world. That’s always the goal
of arts education at TSA, so it makes sense to take advantage of the moment,” said Artistic Director
David Saygers.
Classes will work with audio engineers and video production crews in the production of Kaleidoscope.
“That will be a new experience for some of the kids,” Saygers said.
These virtual performances as well as others will be available on the school’s streaming service,
ArtsWatch, https://ts4arts.pivotshare.com/.