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UNLV College Of Fine Arts Keeps Creativity Alive With YouTube Show

These days UNLV dance students can be found online, part of the Arts Worldwide YouTube program produced by the College of Fine Arts.
Courtesy UNLV Creative Services

These days UNLV dance students can be found online, part of the Arts Worldwide YouTube program produced by the College of Fine Arts.

Arts are an expression of creativity.

But the coronavirus has forced theaters and galleries to close, limiting opportunities for artists to express themselves.

The UNLV College of Fine Arts is pushing back with its new Arts Worldwide online initiative, a weekly half-hour YouTube show devoted to various aspects of the arts.

Nancy Uscher, dean of the college, said this moment requires artists to tap into their improvisational skills.

“This is a time of invention and creativity,” Uscher told State of Nevada, “but we’ve never needed the arts more.

“We’re working within constraints,” she said, “but I’ve noticed that sometimes things are even more creative when you have constraints.”

The show revisits the theme that the arts are essential, with episodes focused on areas such as collaboration, beauty, and health and wellness.

The episodes are curated by Professor Louis Kavouras, the 25-year chair of the UNLV dance department.

The department recently held it's first-ever virtual show. Kavouras said there was an amazing response. 

“My goal was to get more people on the YouTube premiere then we could have physically in the theater and we did. So, it was fantastic,” he said.

Kavouras said virtual shows and the YouTube series featuring UNLV artists aren't trying to replace the experience of going to a theater to see a performance live, but instead, are finding creative ways to work in our current situation. 

“I don’t think any of us during this time think that the arts are going to transform and that we’re no longer going to dance with people or have performances,” he said, “What I think was really interesting about the piece is it gave students a chance to choreograph not for the physical architecture of a theatre space but to choreograph for a screen, even if it’s a small screen or a large screen.”

He said creating a work for the screen gave students a chance to move beyond what they're used to and create something in a whole new way, which most artists want.

Uscher believes those skills are something the artists will take with them after the pandemic ends.

“We’re able to do somethings now that we can carry with us post-pandemic. I am absolutely positive about that. Learning to try things out. Learning to be inventive. Learning to say why not, let’s try something. How bad can it be? And often, it’s sensational,” she said.

Uscher believes there will be a time when audiences will be able to attend music, dance and theatre performances at UNLV but she expects there will be changes.

“It’s about how we do it with a lot of care, a lot of empathy, a lot of flexibility and being nimble because I think we’ll see things shift and change,” she said.

Nancy Uscher, dean, UNLV College of Fine Arts; Professor Louis Kavouras, chair, UNLV Dance

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.