Participating in an admissions roundtable, Maya Kraus, Cameron Caley Michalak, Chad Amos Self and Danielle L. Reddick shared their reasons for initiating study in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College as well as some of the highlights of their Goddard experience.
Maya Krauss (MFAIA VT ’22): I’ve introduced myself about 512 times at Goddard, but I’m not good at it yet. I live in Vermont, land of the Abenaki. I’m one of the few Vermonters that are students at Goddard. My first language is dance, but I’ve started speaking other languages. In my structured life I am an adjunct professor at Castleton University in Castleton Vermont. I’ve been there for almost ten years. My initial thought process was that I was going to bleed my BFA dry. And I did, and but then they said, there’s a shot at you being full time but you need a terminal degree. So, I thought, I’m a mom of three. We have a farm. I can’t go very far. What are my best options? I looked into Goddard, literally had the brochure in my end table for about five years. I met with people, and they kept saying go for it, go for it, do it.
The first semester was all about what am I doing here, why should I be here. Then it became let’s just play, let’s see where the chips fall, let’s bring my experience and see how it formulates. I am now in my last semester. I took this time to be a bit selfish because I haven’t been able to do so before. I’ve been choreographing and creating dances for theater and dance collaborations for a university. I didn’t realize how confining it was until I branched out and started doing things on my own. I also took this time to dig into my cultural background. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning last night really excited about my grad presentation and started texting a friend about it. Goddard is just a wonderful place to rejuvenate, to learn, to look back on what you’ve done and what you want to do. Just know that there’s no final you. It’s just a place to kind of like Oz. It’s like going to Oz.
Cameron Caley Michalak (MFAIA VT ’22): I’ll jump in. I am scenic designer technical director in theater. I have a similar reason for going to Goddard. I teach for Cleveland State University. I’m the technical director in their theater and dance department. I teach three classes, two of them are built into my contract. I weaseled my way into teaching this third one that we felt was really important for our department to have. Since then, I’ve pitched three classes that were all approved. But I’m not allowed to teach them because I don’t have a terminal degree. A more traditional MFA Program was not in the cards. I heard from somebody that there were low residency programs. I just Googled and Goddard was the first school that came up. As I started researching more and more, I thought that this might be an achievable way to get that MFA.
Once you get here you quickly learn that how much more of than just a piece of paper this program is. It’s basically a blank check. As a student-led program you really get to explore things that you never thought you would be able to explore, have time to explore, or the energy to explore. You feed off this really magical kind of energy at the College that doesn’t exist anywhere else. I’m a G4, unlike the rest of you G5s in your final semester. I’m in the phase where I’ve been learning all these crazy new aspects that I’m trying to bring into my practice. This is the semester of figuring out how they truly will fit together as I gear up for my thesis in G5.
I’m also the student constituent trustee on the Goddard board. That’s been a huge part of my learning at Goddard, learning how a board operates at a university level and what goes on the behind the scenes, stuff that you don’t really see when you’re just teaching classes.
Chad Amos Self (MFAIA VT ’22): : I wasn’t familiar with progressive pedagogy before Goddard, so for me it was kind of a confusing landscape to pursue the education that you need for yourself. It was really rewarding to know that I was in control of my education, but also a little spooky. One of the degree requirements at Goddard is a practicum, where you apply your practice to the world in a new way. I wanted to do a teaching practicum because I’m surrounded by these amazing educators. I went to the University of Rhode Island, described to them the practicum that I invented for myself, and they said this sounds great. I was able to step into an educational role at the University of Rhode Island, assisting in classes, which ended up turning into an actual job. It’s now going to be three semesters and I’ve taught the requisite number of credits to join the teacher’s union. I will call it a love letter to Goddard. It’s been an amazing opportunity that continues to be amazing for me.
Danielle L. Reddick (MFAIA VT ’22): : I’m a theater artist. I’ve been a theater artist since grade school. I didn’t stutter when I knew my lines. I tried to go to college back in the day when I graduated from high school, but I decided to take another route. Then I read this article in Ms Magazine or somewhere about this young man who wasn’t able to get into college because he couldn’t afford it. He wrote this article about making a choice to teach himself all the things that he wanted to learn. This was his freedom. I adopted that throughout my life– take a Tai Chi class, learn what you want to learn, be a weaver, do all that stuff.
I didn’t think of myself as a working-class actor till I was in my forties getting my BFA and a teacher used those words. I had an epiphany, “Oh my goodness that’s totally me he’s describing.” It was just my way of being in the world; then suddenly I’m an adult in school with a bunch of nineteen- and twenty-year-olds. After I graduated, I thought that I’ve got to keep going; I need something to help with my solo show. But I didn’t want to do things that some syllabus says I’m supposed to learn in order to get my letters. I wanted to learn what I wanted to learn, because that’s just the way I’ve been doing it, since I read that article, years ago. That’s why I’m here, because Goddard College supported the lifestyle I already had. I was not interested in changing, going anywhere and uprooting. That was not an option.
This past semester in my G4 I had the opportunity to move into an empty storefront and use it as a laboratory to explore the movement, the body, and emotion of one of the characters in my performance piece. I performed in the window and invited people to come watch. In preparing for this window project, I wanted to create a soundscape, so I started learning logic audio. I was also making video and learning to fly. I asked myself, how can I fake flying for the camera? What does my body have to do? I tried things, looked at the video, tried something else. I learned to fly in my G4.