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Students combine passions in Comparative Arts program

This year, students are tackling a different type of technology with Boom! Mics, Music and Modern War.

The comparative arts program has been around for five years at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

It's the most recent addition to the academy, with about 16 students enrolled in its fifth year.

Students like Freshman Gabriel Kennis are looking to combine artistic passions across disciplines.

"I always loved being on stage," said Kennis. "I love the idea of thrilling people with acts of gallantry and hilarious quips and puns, but the idea that I can come here and learn about everything and bring it together and be a great producer by knowing all the ropes of all the art forms is massively appealing."

The program's director, Nicola Conraths-Lange says her students are usually interested in two or more art forms and are typically more academically inclined.

"I see them as producers and sort of creators of the big picture," explained Conraths-Lange.

The multi-faceted education is something she says will help these students in the long run.

"They're going to be able to get good jobs leaving here. I think the workforce wants artistic people that are able to connect the dots between very unlikely things. I have students that are interested in making connections across disciplines and I think that's very timely for the world we live in today."

A typical day for comp arts students involves creating their own performance, taking classes like dance, wellness, sculpting, and digital art.

"You're just going, going, going," said Kennis. "You take a break, you take a quick yoga class, you go, go, go. You have another project on the way, you got homework to do, you stay up till midnight. It's awesome. It's just how crazy fast everything moves. It's just so great here; the energy the motion, I just love it.

"I see all these lightbulbs going on like, 'Oh my God, I never thought about sculpture. I never knew I like to dance.' That is really exciting to see how the facets of artistry stretches in a short amount of time and makes them different people," said Conraths-Lange.

Last year, students partnered with Munson Medical Center to marry heart and art, using science to fuel creativity.

This year, students are tackling a different type of technology with Boom! Mics, Music and Modern War.

"They essentially created a musical play that is about the history of the microphone from 1940 to 1985," explained Conraths-Lange. "They'll research and write the play, then they'll perform in it, and organize other dance majors or theater majors or artists to be a part of that big project."

"Boom is basically about technology advancing art, unifying people," said Kennis. "When new technology comes out like the microphone, which is what boom is focused on, it's able to increase the artistic abilities of the people that use it, opening new doors and ideas and possibilities."

Kennis plays the lead in this year's production. There's a reason he feels so close to the character.

"He's kind of this geeky kid who doesn't really know much about people in the world are how things work in the world, a bit like me very close to me. That's my character who I also wrote," explained Kennis. "I was part of the script writing team, so Emil has a very close connection to me because I had to channel my inner geekiness into his character."

Students will perform their show February 18 and 19 at the Phoenix Theater on campus at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for Boom! Cost $10 for adults.

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