On Friday, October 11, Denison celebrated the Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts with a day of ground-breaking performances and festivities. The college’s board of trustees, including Life Trustees Michael D. Eisner ’64 and Sharon Martin ’65, gathered with Denison President Adam Weinberg, members of faculty, and student representatives, to dedicate the boldly designed facility that connects the departments of dance, music and theatre, encouraging creativity and collaboration across the performing arts. The Eisner Center positions Denison as a top nationally ranked liberal arts school for arts-oriented students who prefer a liberal arts education over a conservatory experience.
Weinberg said, “I know of no society in the last 2,000 years that has remained open, free, and just without strength in the arts. I am deeply proud to be the president of a college that is doubling down on the arts.” He added, “This is a game-changer for Denison. Our students give us faith in humanity and hope for the future. May all of our students, faculty, staff and community friends have their worldviews stretched and their hearts, minds, and imaginations expanded as they enjoy performing arts in this building.”
“When Adam mentioned this project to me, I didn’t know of any other place in America that brought these disciplines together,” said Eisner, whose donation helped make the center possible. “This really creates a liberal arts education for people that are artistically motivated.”
“Nothing can comfort, sooth, energize, challenge, and educate like the performing arts,” said Martin, a primary donor to the center. “They stir our emotions, they enrich our soul and they teach us about other cultures.”
The dedication ceremonies included musical performances by Denison’s Bluegrass Ensemble, Gospel Choir and Chamber Singers; a dance performance with dance students, the college’s ensemble-in-resident ETHEL, and faculty member and composer HyeKyung Lee; and an exclusive live performance of BoJack Horseman, an award-winning Netflix animated series produced by Eisner’s Tornante Company. In addition, prize-winning poet and English Professor David Baker presented his poem, “Ecology of the Arts,” written especially for the occasion.
The Eisner Center is located on Denison’s Fine Arts Quad, with 108,000 square feet of state-of-the art stages, rehearsal spaces, classrooms and studios equipped with cutting-edge technology, and open spaces especially configured to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and artistic inquiry. The site, which faces Broadway, makes the college’s preforming arts programs even more accessible and open to the greater community.
Recognizing that one day is not enough to showcase the talents of the college’s dance performers and choreographers, myriad theatre groups, 20 musical ensembles, visiting artists, and ensemble-in-residence, the college is extending the opening observances over the entire academic year, allowing sufficient time for both classic and new art to be experienced and enjoyed.
In addition to Eisner and Martin, Denison alumni Jamie Thorsen ’77, Paul Hylbert ’66, Dana Hart ’76, Jeremy Flug ’83 and members of the Reese/Shackelford families were recognized for their significant contributions to the Eisner Center. Many other alumni donated to make the project possible.
Bringing BoJack to life
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to adapt award-winning animated series BoJack Horseman to the stage poses some creative challenges.