Hollins Professor R.H.W. Dillard Talks Centennial Of Legendary Italian Director Federico Fellini

Cinephiles around the globe are no doubt celebrating the centennial of famed Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. The year 2020 marks a century since the birth of one of cinema’s most quirky, creative, and surreal auteurs—Fellini directed more than a dozen projects across a career that spanned nearly five decadesand this month will see the release of Essential Fellini, a new 15-disc Criterion Collection box set of Fellini classics, including Academy Award-winners La Strada, Amarcord, and, perhaps the original hyper-meta film-within-a-film, 8 ½.

Fellini films also have quite a history at Hollins University. The Italian director is a favorite of Professor of English, Creative Writing, and Film R. H. W. Dillard, award-winning author and editor of The Hollins Critic.

“He’s an extraordinary filmmaker, and he does it with such clarity in his heart,” said Dillard about the enduring popularity of Fellini’s cinematic universe, which was so unique it gave rise to the term “Felliniesque.” (Fellini’s La Dolce Vita also spawned the word “paparazzi” from one of the movie’s characters, an obnoxiously persistent photographer named Paparazzo.) “Fellini’s humanity draws us back to him, as well as his art,” said Dillard about the director’s gifts. “There are lots of artistically competent filmmakers, but Fellini I’m drawn back to again and again. It’s a cliché, but his films have this heart to them.”

To Dillard’s point, Fellini had a gift for depicting all his characters, even some of his most despicable or grotesque, with a kind of forgivability and gentleness. There are no true antagonists or villains in many of Fellini’s films, only flawed but usually likeable and endearing characters against the currents of the larger world. “Amore per tutti (love for all),” one of Fellini’s characters famously declares in the director’s 1965 film Juliet of the Spirits, a movie about a suburban woman who begins seeing visions while grappling with the abandonment of her husband. “Love for all” seems to perfectly sum up the director’s attitude toward not just his own characters but indeed to the larger, messier tapestry that is humanity. In Amarcord, a film about growing up in Fascist Italy under Mussolini, even Fellini’s depiction of the Fascists and their supporters reveals that, for the most part, they are just people, too: neighbors and townsfolk, a high school math teacher, a clerk at a cigarette shop, or—in the case of the semi-autobiographical central character Titta—a freeloading uncle who rats out his own brother-in-law.

Fellini On Set
“One hundred years after his birth, Federico Fellini still stands apart as a giant of the cinema.” – The Criterion Collection

“He was an artist determined to reveal his full vision as vividly and completely as possible, to discover the universal in the particular,” wrote Dillard in a 1994 essay published in Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture shortly after the Italian auteur had passed away. “Fellini was an artist who depended upon individual and particular vision and expression rather than politically codified generalities and stereotypes.”

Dillard’s connection to both Fellini and Hollins runs deep. In addition to offering a course on Fellini for many decades at the university (he’s actually teaching Fellini this semester, in honor of the maestro’s 100th, in his Film as a Narrative Art class), Dillard said that Hollins is where he saw his first Fellini film. Ever. “When I was an undergrad at Roanoke College, La Strada was showing at Hollins,” said Dillard, recalling the classic film that fetched Fellini his first Oscar win for Best Foreign Language Film (Fellini would go on to win three more awards in this category, a record). “That was also the first time I ever set foot on the Hollins campus. Eight years later, I came back to work here, and I’ve been teaching Fellini ever since. So I’ve always connected the two.”

That screening at Hollins sparked a decades-long Fellini fascination for Dillard. In a situation somewhat reminiscent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dillard’s dedication to Fellini cinema even caused him to brave a crowded theater during the H3N2/Hong Kong flu pandemic in the 1960s. “When Hollins was the first college in America to close down with the Hong Kong flu—and the national news reported it—my friend [and film professor] Tom Atkins was teaching 8 ½ in his film class in Babcock,” Dillard recalled. “I thought, ‘I’m not gonna miss 8 ½,’ because back then that was the only way I could see it. And the room was full of people with blankets, all of them were sick. I watched the movie and loved every moment. And I caught the flu for it.” (Dillard is quick to caution current Hollins students not to follow in his footsteps.)

As for Fellini’s future in the pantheon of the world’s great filmmakers, Dillard has no doubt of the Italian director’s place. “I think he’s made it—he’s never going away,” said Dillard. “Post-World War II cinema is one of the great periods of art, like Elizabethan/Jacobean drama in English, and that doesn’t go away. Fellini and Bergman and Antonioni, they’re all gonna last. And thanks to technology, we can see them in Blu-Ray.” Speaking of which, Dillard added that he’s already preordered his copy of the Criterion Collection’s Fellini Essential box set (due out November 24). With a smile, Dillard said he’s just waiting for it to arrive so he can watch Fellini’s masterpieces all over again.

 


Nationally Ranked Hollins Theatre Institute Announces Online Events for 2020-21 Season

Even though it is not able currently to present before in-person public audiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hollins Theatre Institute (HTI) will be offering fans of the stage the opportunity to attend a number of special virtual productions during the 2020-21 season.

This season’s schedule comes as HTI celebrates its recent ranking by The Princeton Review as the eighth-best college theatre program in the country.

“We are proud to be in the company of some of the best theatre schools in higher education and recognize what an honor it is for a program our size to be in the top ten,” said Ernie Zulia, HTI director. “We may be a small campus, but our vision is mighty and our sights are high.”

The 2020-21 public season begins with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which will be reformatted as a Zoom presentation and performed on October 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m., and on October 18 at 2 p.m. Originally scheduled for production last spring, the drama is the winner of seven Olivier Awards and five Tony Awards, including Best Play, and is based on the bestselling novel by Mark Hadden.The Curious Incident

The Curious Incident is the story of Christopher, a tenacious and intelligent teenager on the autistic spectrum who is better at solving equations than navigating a world that’s stubbornly out of sync with how his mind works. After being wrongly accused of murdering his neighbor’s dog, he resolves to find the real culprit. But, when his investigation uncovers painful truths about his family, he dares to strike out on his own, embarking on an adventure that upturns his whole world.

The Curious Incident is a thrilling, heartwarming, and uplifting story,” said Zulia. It’s recommend for ages 12 and up due to strong language throughout the production.

Admission to this online event is free and open to the public. Visit BrownPaperTickets.com or email agoodwin@hollins.edu to request the livestream link.

Produced through the partnership between HTI and Mill Mountain Theatre, the 2021 Hollins-Mill Mountain Virtual Winter Festival of New Works will feature never-before-seen plays penned by playwrights from the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University.

Written and directed by Max Bidasha, Missing Red Girls is based on true stories about missing and murdered indigenous women and follows two families on their journeys to find loved ones who were stolen from them. The families endure many obstacles, including racism and a lack of resources. A livestream of the play will be presented via Zoom, January 21-23 at 7:30 p.m., and January 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 general admission and will go on sale through BrownPaperTickets.com on December 1, 2020.

The Care Taker, written by Stephanie Goldman and directed by Clinton Johnston, looks at the complicated relationship between a mother and daughter and how a wound that is hidden can never be healed. The livestream via Zoom will take place January 23 at 2 p.m., and admission is free and open to the public. Tickets will be available through BrownPaperTickets.com on December 1, 2020.

In Kate Leslie’s Shadow of the Sun, directed by Daimien Matherson, Artemis is the goddess of the moon, and her brother, Apollo, is the god of the sun. Expected to live up to the ideals of the immortals, Artemis longs for freedom and the opportunity to chart her own path. But when she builds her own world, has she simply traded one set of impossible expectations for another? A Zoom livestream will be held January 28-30 at 7:30 p.m., and January 31 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 general admission and will go on sale through BrownPaperTickets.com on December 1, 2020.

Zulia said that the extent of COVID-19 restrictions on campus next semester will determine if and how HTI presents a Main Stage production in Spring 2021. Nevertheless, he stressed that “plans are under way for a dynamic production next April that will excite audiences online or in person. Stay tuned for more details as spring approaches.”

 


Amy Gerber-Stroh’s Latest Film Probes Connectedness and Isolation, Detachment and Engagement, in the Modern World

Cell towers have become a ubiquitous 21st century presence, so common that most people hardly notice them anymore. Amy Gerber-Stroh, associate professor of film at Hollins University, is the observant exception.

“High above they are watching us, listening to us, and digesting us,” she says. “At first you never see them, but once you start actively looking, you realize that they are everywhere.”

Gerber-Stroh is fascinated with the ways in which cell technology has impacted society, and imagines the possibilities if cell towers actually developed consciousness. “What does it mean to have these looming totem poles on our landscape? Knowing that millions of bits of data go through cell towers every day, could they tell us something about ourselves if they could speak? What would they say? These questions creep into my mind whenever I spot the strange, inconspicuous metallic structures that dominate our space much like telegraph poles once did in the 19th century. Today the air is alive with signals from all directions, some clean, some not, both in terms of content and form. Are cell towers nostalgic for their wooden telegraph ancestors who channeled signals that were simple and pure?”

Gerber-Stroh explores these scenarios in her latest film, Do Cell Towers Dream of Morse Code?  Shot in Roanoke, the 27-minute production was honored with the Silver Award for Experimental Works at the 2020 University Film and Video Conference (home of the Journal of Film and Video), and also earned awards and acclaim at the Miami International Sci-Fi Film Festival and Chicago’s International Art House Film Festival. (Please note that the film contains adult language and is intended for mature audiences.)

“In Do Cell Towers Dream of Morse Code?, Gerber-Stroh presents us with a vision of an artificial intelligence that, after being forced to ‘consume’ the suffering and pain of others, wants to have a say in the outcomes it can only witness,” says Vincenzo Mistretta, professor of film production at the University of Southern Mississippi. “The film beautifully captures humanity’s collective cognitive dissonance at the prospect of trying to untangle the borders between real and virtual, connected and alienated, human and non-human. As these categories continue to collapse into one another, our own lives may become increasingly difficult to navigate.”

Do Cell Towers Dream of Morse Code?  begins with a “breaking news” teaser from a fictional TV channel: In an “increasingly disturbing situation,” cell towers are catching fire across the country, inexplicably and at an alarming rate.

The film then shifts to a point of view from above two adjacent city parking lots at night, and eavesdrops on the text conversations of three unrelated characters who are waiting there: “Kate” is picking up her son from music lessons; “Amanda” is looking forward to meeting a date for the evening; and “Daniel” claims he is heading to the nearby Y to work out.UFVA Conference Award Winner

“Amongst the scores of parked cars at night in any town or city, one may find a collection of glowing blue light that shines through the fog and condensation of their windows,” Gerber-Stroh says. “The inhabitants think they are alone as they perform a symphony of chords in gigahertz, willingly offering up their electromagnetic fields of hopes, dreams, and fears. But they are not alone. A cell tower is always nearby.”

Solely through their text messages, the film gradually reveals that each character’s story is far more complex that it initially appears. Kate, a single parent, is struggling with a personal financial crisis. Amanda’s date’s ex-boyfriend is jealous and possibly violent. Daniel is in fact a stalker. The tension grows when three men drive into the lot and begin acting oddly after they step outside their vehicle.

Meanwhile, a technician who arrives at the cell tower to do maintenance starts receiving cryptic messages on his work laptop. Dismissing the communications as the work of hackers, the tech is incredulous when the source claims to be an artificial intelligence that has become sentient – the cell tower itself. Proclaiming it is “ill” from “information fatigue,” the cell tower shares its dilemma: “As you might surmise, the world goes through us. We see everything, yet we can do nothing. It is eating us alive. Like a cancer. Or to be more precise: like consuming multitudes of fast food.”

The tower concludes, “Knowledge is worthless without action,” and sets itself on fire. Climbing back down to street level to escape the danger, the technician receives a final video message from the tower that, as Mistretta explains, “guides the repairman toward noticing the real world. It accomplishes its goal to have a real effect on the physical world.”

At its core, Gerber-Stroh believes Do Cell Towers Dream of Morse Code?  “offers a brief view from an observer at a unique vantage point. We experience a witness’ fixed perspective of events that occur on a supposed benign street corner. Who is the witness? And what is the witness’ connection to the lone souls below, parked in cars and affixed to their smartphones? The film captures a linear moment in time, exploring the ideas of connectedness and isolation, detachment and engagement, that sometimes occur simultaneously in our modern world.”

A member of the Hollins faculty since 2007, Gerber-Stroh chairs the university’s film department and co-directs the M.A. and M.F.A. programs in screenwriting and film studies. Her films have won honors at numerous film festivals and professional venues, including the Edinburgh International Film Festival; Mill Valley Film Festival; Film Forum, Los Angeles; and Women in the Director’s Chair in Chicago.

Gerber-Stroh’s documentary, My Grandfather Was a Nazi Scientist: Opa, von Braun and Operation Paperclip, was shown at the Charles Guggenheim Center for Documentary Film and also received several other film festival and honorary screenings. Amazon describes it as “a very interesting account of events that are rarely covered in our nation’s history. The film chronicles Gerber’s personal journey to discover and uncover her grandfather’s role in post-war America.”

Russia Was a Woman, Gerber-Stroh’s award-winning screenplay, is gaining some interest at Rooster Teeth and Netflix as a possible limited series. In its review, Fresh Voices calls the work “an interesting revisionist take on Ivan the Terrible’s wife,” and praises Gerber-Stroh for her “ambition, imagination and creation of two lead LGBT characters.”

Gerber-Stroh has had significant professional film experience in Hollywood and New York. She worked on several movie features by Roger Corman and casted 12 major motion pictures including The Mask of Zorro (Columbia Pictures), Goldeneye (MGM), Afterglow (Sony Pictures Classics), Tank Girl (United Artists), and Angels in the Outfield (Disney).


Hollins Announces Eleanor Ray as 2021 Niederer Artist-In-Residence

Brooklyn-based painter Eleanor Ray is the Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence at Hollins University for 2021.

Each year, the artist-in-residence program brings to campus a nationally recognized artist who produces work and teaches a special seminar. The program is named for a beloved art historian who taught for many years at Hollins.

Ray makes small-scale paintings of encounters with specific places, including well-known or art-historically significant sites, and others more anonymous. As art critic and curator John Yau described her work, “The unoccupied interior or landscape becomes a sacred space, a place of solitude and reflection. The windows remind us that there is an exterior and interior world, and that we always occupy both.”

Ray earned her B.A. in English and art and the history of art from Amherst College, and her M.F.A. in painting from the New York Studio School. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Nicelle Beauchene Galler, New York; Howard’s, Athens, Georgia; and Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York. She has been the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting, and her work has been supported by residencies at Steep Rock, the Motello Foundation, Yaddo, Ucross, Jentel, The Edward Albee Foundation, and the BAU Institute. Her work is in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

 

 


For the Stephensons, the Hollins Experience Is a Family Affair

From his service as a U.S. Army officer and a career teaching high school English to embracing a stint as a stay-at-home father, Kelly Stephenson M.F.A. ’20 had always cherished a desire to someday write a novel.

So, while his daughter Clare was preparing to graduate from high school, Kelly and his wife began seriously considering “the next phase of my life. We were talking about what’s next, and she said, ‘why don’t you apply to grad schools and see where you get in?’ Hollins University was at the top of my list because I knew it had a really strong writing program. I applied, I got accepted, and we decided that it must be fate.”

Two years later, Kelly and his family are celebrating the completion of his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Hollins, which he hopes will be a springboard to becoming a published author. At the outset, however, Kelly admits he had mixed emotions.

“I was terrified,” he recalls. “I was older and I hadn’t been to school in 30 years except to earn my teaching license. It was nerve-wracking, too, because my family wouldn’t join me here,” but remain at their home in Princeton, New Jersey, until Clare finished high school. “I was going to be a geographical bachelor.”

Nevertheless, Kelly came to Hollins motivated to finally begin writing that novel. “I decided at my first tutorial that I had a good idea and I was going to push forward with it. For the first half of my first year, I wrote fervently and completed seven chapters. In the second half, I started revising.”

Kelly states that the amount of writing he completed in his first year at Hollins “was great. The instruction I got from my professors in terms of taking my writing to the next level was wonderful.” And while he missed his family, “having my space to write was fantastic. It really did make a big difference with my writing and what I was able to accomplish.”

One of the attributes of the creative writing program that Kelly praises is its emphasis on the rewriting process. “During my revisions, I was encouraged to deepen my characters’ inner life, and I started assimilating that naturally into my writing. I also learned my strengths and my blind spots as a writer. I was definitely enriched by the instruction I received. I thought I would improve around the edges, but I got the opportunity to not only write a lot, but also to write better.”

Kelly believes the M.F.A. in creative writing at Hollins offers a unique and beneficial approach in other ways. “They have a sense of what the student needs, and one of those things is the fire to write. If you’re just getting slammed, it’s discouraging. They want you to keep doing what you’re doing well. The philosophy during rewrites is not that what you’ve done is a disaster, but how can you build upon what you’ve already done. I had some things worth polishing.”

He adds that he was inspired to pursue writing in different genres. “I wanted to be a novelist, but I was encouraged to write poetry and creative nonfiction, and I have eight good short stories that I’m proud of. Some programs have a tendency to put you into a certain genre.”

Kelly sees further upsides when comparing Hollins to other creative writing schools. “There’s much more competition in those programs between the writers themselves and in getting attention from faculty. At Hollins, it’s not like that. I was never made to think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to write better than this person.’”

Kelly & Clare Stephenson 2
Kelly Stephenson M.F.A. ’20 and his daughter Clare, Hollins’ class of 2023: “Not everyone gets to see their son’s or daughter’s educational experience up close, and I think Clare made a great choice in Hollins.”

The sense of destiny that Kelly and his wife feel led him to Hollins may have also played a role in determining Clare’s college destination. “I had a class in high school that focused on helping you find what you want out of college and where the best fit might be,” she explains. “I was very interested in single-sex colleges, and Hollins kept coming up for me.”

At the same time he was on the Hollins campus with Clare for a visit, Kelly learned that he had been accepted into the M.F.A. program in creative writing. On top of that welcome news, Clare was forming a very good impression of the university. “I liked the feel of community during my tour. The vibe was very comforting to me. It felt good in terms of how women grow into the type of person I wanted to be. As a liberal arts school it really was set up to help me to explore what I really wanted to do in life.”

Clare, who is also an aspiring author (she hopes to double major in creative writing and the performing arts), was accepted at Hollins during Kelly’s first fall at Hollins. She became a residential first-year student during her dad’s second year in the creative writing program, when he also taught an undergraduate class, Fundamentals of Writing Poetry and Fiction.

In order to give Clare space to grow and engage in her education on her own, Kelly says he purposefully kept their interaction on campus to a minimum. “We didn’t see each other that much except on weekends, and that was more as a father and daughter rather than fellow students.” There was the occasional overlap: Kelly shared a faculty office with Visiting Lecturer in English Sydney Tammarine, who taught Clare in a creative writing class (“I made it a point not to talk about Clare with Sydney at all.”), and this spring, they actually shared the same instructor (“Clare had Karen Bender [Hollins’ Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing] for a class and I had her for a tutorial.”). Still, Kelly says Clare’s first-year experience “was so great. She’s really found a great group of friends who are very nurturing and helped her acclimate into a study routine.”

Clare adds, “It helped that I was close enough to my parents’ apartment in Roanoke where I could come over whenever I wanted.”

When Hollins transitioned to remote instruction in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly and Clare found that their individual academic experiences became a bit more intertwined when they both had to complete their studies for the semester from that apartment.

“I think for Clare it was a weird experience sitting at a kitchen table and me coming in to get a snack,” Kelly says. “Plus, my wife was working in the next room, so we had several people at any given time in the pockets of our apartment.”

Moving forward, Kelly is seeking to finish his novel as well as a memoir about his time as a stay-at-home dad. “I’m taking another year to get a big chunk of writing done with a goal of getting publication. As one of the oldest graduates of the M.F.A. program, I realize I have a narrower window to see my dreams come true.”

Clare is excited to return to campus this fall, and hopes to expand her Hollins experience beyond the classroom. “I’m looking into internship opportunities and considering study abroad.”

“I’m so happy she is here in this kind of environment,” Kelly says. “Not everyone gets to see their son’s or daughter’s educational experience up close, and I think Clare made a great choice in Hollins.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


“You Don’t Have to Choose Between Cookies and Fitness”: Dance M.F.A. Student and Personal Trainer Offers Tips on Home Exercise

Every day, people ask me what they can do to “get in shape” at home. One of my favorite lines is “I want to get fit, but I love (insert comfort food)! I just can’t help myself when I’m stressed.” It’s safe to say that we are experiencing astronomical stress right now, hunkering down in our homes, so not only do the cookies/pizza/nachos make us feel better, they’re also steps away. All the time. Spoiler: you don’t have to choose between cookies and fitness.

Generally speaking, most people who are out of their normal routine (and who isn’t right now?), or who have never subscribed a regular fitness program, set a HUGE goal to meet, give a thousand percent, get injured or frustrated (or both), and end up back on the couch in a matter of days or weeks. Add the mental turmoil of watching the news and re-learning how to exist in society during a pandemic, and the motivation to try again is all but gone.

So, how do we get off the couch and into a routine? My answer is always: baby steps.

Moderation is key, to everything. I love cookies. I love wine. I love pizza! I’m also addicted to my bed, reading the news, and kissing my hairless dogs. I could easily spend hours enjoying any of these things nonstop but that would end up making me sick, anxious, and ineffective at the rest of my life (except maybe kissing the dogs). Same goes for exercise – it’s neither healthy nor sustainable to disrupt your entire life to meet a fitness or wellness goal.

So, grab a snack, something on which you can make notes, and get comfy while we make a plan together.

First thing: Identify your goal.

Do you need to stretch and move your body? Do you want to burn calories? Would you like to feel stronger? Regardless of the goal, setting a realistic and specific intention is paramount. Now write it down.

Second: Make the journey fun.

My primary suggestion for people who have lost motivation, become deconditioned, or have trouble sticking to a fitness program is to find something enjoyable to do that involves moving your body. It’s really that simple: if you approach exercise as a task or as punishment (bad) for enjoying pizza (good) your inner rebel will resist.

Remember what you enjoyed when you were a kid? It counts as exercise now.

Think: skateboarding, rollerskating, riding a bike, walking outside (especially on hills), hiking, dancing, hula hooping. These are things you can do for long periods of time at a steady state, which means lots of calories burned. AND, steady state cardio keeps you in a fat-burning heart rate zone.

Next to your intention, make a list of the activities you enjoy that you have the equipment to perform where you are right now.

Third: Set attainable goals!

Most of us make huge goals (great!) but no step-by-step plan to follow to get there. Start with scheduling 10 minutes a day outside or just laying on a yoga mat. Ten minutes won’t interrupt your day or cause you to reschedule anything. As you begin to enjoy your time and plan around your activity, add a few minutes when you can. Soon, that 10 minutes will become 30 or 45 and you will look forward to it.

Schedule an activity into your day that feels like a reward for getting up a little earlier or scheduling a little time for yourself before lunch or after work (or these days, putting on pants or brushing your teeth). Those hills on Hollins’ campus have some gorgeous views that make the trek worth it – and you’ll strengthen your legs and heart at the same time. Make a playlist or save the next episode of your favorite podcast to listen to – employ as many of your senses as you can and the time will not just be enjoyable, but pass quickly.

Now, grab your scheduler, find the places where you have time to fill, and make an appointment with yourself to spend 10 minutes in a place you enjoy at the same time each week.

Fourth: Be smart.

Safety is key when you’re not working with an instructor or trainer. These seemingly tiny details are what can make or break your routine: Keep water handy if you will be outside for long periods of time; wear good shoes if you are performing high-impact activities (i.e., running); go at a pace and within a range of motion that doesn’t cause pain; dress appropriately for the activity; warm up, and cool down.

Note: Many of us have trouble finding motivation to work out alone – I certainly do. If I didn’t have clients who paid me to train them remotely right now, I’d be hard-pressed to get out of my jammies at all. Group fitness classes offer social stimulation in addition to kick-ass workouts.  Online livestreamed group workouts are everywhere, for every level (and you can turn your camera off if you don’t want to be seen but want to enjoy the group).

So! Some ideas and resources for you:

  • Walking (briskly…in a cute new activewear combo that makes you feel ahhhmazing).
  • Zumba (my guilty pleasure) – so many free videos!
  •  Jazzercise (my other guilty pleasure – don’t tell anyone) – right now you can get two weeks of online classes for free!
  • Yoga: Gaia has streaming classes anywhere from 15 minutes long to two hours (Who has time for that?? Not me.) for all levels! You could leave a mat at work and do 15 minutes before lunch.
  • With me! I lead short Pilates mat classes on Facebook Live and post a daily and weekly “ab challenge” on Instagram and IG Live. Join in!
  • Lastly, perfect for social distancing, get a FitBit. You can set daily goals for steps, weekly goals for exercise, and make or join groups with people from all over the world to meet benchmarks together. They also happen to be on sale right now.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Be patient. Wash your hands. Make time for fun.

 

Courtney Collado is a professional dancer, personal trainer, and master Pilates instructor from New York City, currently living in Kansas City, Missouri. She is earning her M.F.A. through Hollins’ low-residency dance program, and when not in social isolation, is a practicing choreographer, dance teacher, and corrective movement specialist who enjoys kissing her hairless dogs, playing Just Dance with her eight-year-old son, and writing the newsletters for Missouri’s local Sister District chapter.

Instagram: @bendysweatyawesome

 

 

 

 

 


Wilson Museum Announces Temporary Closure

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is closed to the public, reflecting the university’s shift to an early Spring Recess and remote instruction in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

To ensure the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors, all museum events and programs are cancelled through at least the week concluding Friday, April 10.

The Wilson Museum is working on ways to host online exhibitions of its upcoming shows, and will provide updates on its website and Facebook page. Currently, a PDF of the catalogue for the Robert Sulkin: Photographs 1973-2019 exhibition is available for download on the museum website’s publications page, as are several catalogue PDFs for past shows.

 

 


Hollins Theatre Presents Natasha Trethewey’s Acclaimed “Native Guard,” March 8

The Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Hollins University alumna and former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey is coming to Hollins Theatre.

Trethewey’s Native Guard, which received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007, will be presented in a theatrical reading with stunning visuals and live music on Sunday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. on the theatre’s Main Stage. Admission is free with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. A conversation with Trethewey, who earned her M.A. from Hollins in 1991, will immediately follow the performance.

Native Guard juxtaposes the deeply personal experiences of Trethewey, a child of a then-illegal marriage between her African American mother and Caucasian father living in 1960s Mississippi, with the experience of a soldier in the Native Guard, the first African American Union troop in the Civil War. Years after her mother’s tragic death, Trethewey reclaims her memory, just as she reclaims the voices of the black soldiers whose service has been all but forgotten.

The evening of poetry and theatricality stars January LaVoy, an Atlanta-based actress best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz-Stubbs on the ABC daytime drama One Life to Live.  She has appeared on Broadway and guest starred on several prime time network series, including Elementary, Blue Bloods, and N0S4A2. The cast also features Dominic Taylor, a writer, director, and scholar of African American theatre who is currently the resident professional teaching artist at Hollins Theatre, and Roanoke’s own Shawn Spencer, a renowned jazz and blues vocalist.

Native Guard is the second volume of poetry by Trethewey that Hollins Theatre has adapted for the stage. Bellocq’s Ophelia premiered in 2012 and the following year was one of five full productions from the southeastern United States chosen for performance at the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.


Wilson Museum Showcases Photography of Professor Emeritus Robert Sulkin

The photography of a distinguished member of the Hollins University faculty who taught for nearly four decades is the subject of a new exhibition at the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.

Robert Sulkin: Photographs 1973-2019, which is on display January 16 – March 29, is a retrospective exhibition highlighting the work of the award-winning photographer who joined the Hollins faculty in 1980 and retired at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. The exhibition presents 120 images selected from 40-plus years of making photographs, ranging from his early social landscape works created in the mid-1970s to what the artist refers to as his landscape intervention work from 2019. Throughout his career, Sulkin has worked in series, and these will be displayed together somewhat chronologically.

Like many photographers working at the end of the 20th and early 21st centuries, Sulkin witnessed and experienced changes in technology that had profound effects on his work. Collectively his studio and/or photoshop-based fabrications comment on aspects of culture and track a progression of style and experimentation, some playful, some farcical, and some serious.

Of his work, Sulkin says, “Broadly, my photography deals with the futility of the individual attempting to cope in a technology-driven world spinning out of control.”

During his career, Sulkin has participated in over 200 solo, group, and juried exhibitions. In recent years, he has had shows at Virginia Tech, the Arts Club of Washington, the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, and the William King Museum of Art. His work has also appeared at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, The Light Factory, the Chrysler Museum of Art, college galleries throughout Virginia, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and 516 ARTS, among others. 

Sulkin will deliver a Cabell Artist Lecture on Thursday, February 13, at 6 p.m. in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center. A reception will follow.  Admission is free and open to the public.

Robert Sulkin: Photographs 1973-2019 is sponsored in part by the City of Roanoke through the Roanoke Arts Commission.

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is open Tuesday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m., and Thursdays, noon – 8 p.m. Admission is always free.


Hollins Theatre Presents Revival of “Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical,” Oct. 19-26

The musical version of a beloved children’s story that has sold millions of copies around the world is coming back to Hollins University this fall.

Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical returns to Hollins Theatre, October 19 – 26. Based on the 1945 book by Margaret Wise Brown, a member Hollins’ class of 1932, the tale of the bunny who won’t go to sleep was adapted for the stage by Chad Henry. It was first presented in 2011 as the inaugural production of the Hollins Legacy Series, which was created to reimagine the work of Hollins writers as plays, musicals, and original theatre pieces. Hollins Theatre featured a revival of Goodnight Moon in 2015.

“We are working to make this show a great tradition here in Roanoke and a wonderful gift from Hollins to the community,” says Ernie Zulia, director of the Hollins Theatre Institute. “Along with six public performances, we are scheduling four performances for schoolchildren and are expecting as many as 2,000 kids to arrive here on buses throughout the run of the show.”

Goodnight Moon comes to the stage with whimsical costumes designed by California designer Amanda Quivey, lighting by Hollins resident designer Ann Courtney, and scenery by Disney artist Ryan Wineinger. Zulia describes the stage set as “a wondrous room filled with toys and pictures that comes to life before your eyes. The kittens, the mittens, the red balloon, and the cow jumping over the moon are all there, along with a few surprises. Goodnight Moon really is for children of all ages – we are proud that thousands of people have already seen the show over the years, and now it’s here for a new generation to enjoy.”

Hollins Theatre’s Main Stage will host the public performances of Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical on Saturday, October 19, at 11 a.m.; Sunday, October 20, at 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, October 24 and 25, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, October 26, at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12. For ticket sales and more information, visit www.hollins.edu/theatre or call the Hollins Theatre Box Office at (540) 362-6517.