Taking the Stage: The World Economic Forum Global Leadership Fellows in Residence at Columbia University School of the Arts

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NEW YORK, July 1, 2014 — From July 13 - 18, for the fifth consecutive year, Global Leadership Fellows from the World Economic Forum will be in residence at Columbia University School of the Arts for a series of intensive workshops and programs on the role of the arts in creating strong leaders and in effecting positive social change on a global scale. The Fellows, who hail from over 40 countries, come to Columbia with a diversity of backgrounds, experience and areas of interest.

The workshops, collectively entitled “Taking the Stage,” are created and led by distinguished School of the Arts faculty, who are inspired to present their unique training in Theatre, Writing, and Jazz Studies in the context of global leadership.

“The role the arts play in communicating across borders, affecting positive social engagement, challenging the way people think about and interpret change on a large scale, is powerful yet not always obvious, essential yet often undervalued,” noted Carol Becker, dean of faculty of Columbia University School of the Arts.

“Taking the Stage” uses  theatre, voice and writing to encourage Fellows to listen and to communicate with their entire selves in order to to find an authentic give and take in their interactions. The workshops focus on using improvisation, humor, and role playing to  strengthen the Fellows’ abilities to adapt to changing circumstances, to inspire with their words and actions, and to listen and lead with empathy.

Daytime theatre and writing workshops include:
Andrea Haring | Authentic and Active Presence

This workshop looks at the essential elements that engender authentic, relaxed and purposeful communication. A free voice allows us to speak from a more “present” and authentic center. When the breath can relax, and the voice finds resonance, we create a voice that is ready to engage with the world. When we find a deeper connection to our sensory experience and our imagination and link these elements to a desire to communicate, we set the stage for a voice and body that is able to listen and respond in a meaningful way – a voice that has more expressive possibilities in conversation and in a public speaking forum.

Brent Blair | Reading the World in the Word: Cultural Literacy through Image Theatre

This workshop engages Fellows in a series of techniques designed to explore who and how they are in the world through embodied group images of “self” and “other.”
Trey Ellis | The Whole is Greater: Exploration of Group Dynamics Through Collective Expression
This workshop utilizes an existing multi-character scene dealing with race and class dynamics to explore the shifting subtleties of small-group dynamics. Fellows explore and complicate notions of protagonist and antagonist, powerful and powerless, by alternately inhabiting the various roles in the piece. Our goal is to begin to develop a more nimble and nuanced reaction to unpredictable group dynamics.

Jean Taylor | The Alexander Technique and Theatrical Clown
The study of Theatrical Clown teaches us many things about ourselves as presenters, performers and community members: how to begin from a simple, open, energized presence; how to develop greater trust in our creative impulses; how to sustain a sense of “complicite” when creating and performing with others. Above all, Theatrical Clown helps us accept our own unique ridiculousness, which brings our full humanity to the forefront and transforms our habits of restriction into skills of open expression. This discovery in ourselves allows us to relate to others with heightened awareness and deeper empathy.
Andrea Haring | Challenges in Communication
Whether you are talking to an individual, a small group, or a large audience, there are ways that you can stay grounded, open and proactive in getting your points across to the different environments in which you communicate. This workshop explores strategies to feel more expressive and effective in your conversations and group talks. Fellows look at how the use of rhetorical devices and elements of language can be used to create a more interesting presentation.
Brent Blair | Community Engagement: Leadership through Interactive Dialogue

This workshop explores new methods of dynamic inter-participatory leadership via the model of theatrical engagement as an answer to the historical “top-down” monologue of colonialism. In this inquiry-based, experiential workshop, participants learn to use the fundamental tools of theatre arts in order to invite a public dialogue.

Trey Ellis | It Begins with the “I”: Self-Expression as Leadership Tool
Each Fellow will select a portrait of a person in some sort of extreme need and write and then perform a monologue based on their imagining of that person’s inner struggle and personal history. Beyond notions of likeability and compassion, the workshop’s aim is to explore what lies beneath the comfortable imaginings of the disadvantaged, to discover a more complicated, endlessly variable human being.
Evening programs include:

Global Voices: A World’s View in Theatre
Excerpts from selected plays from India, South Africa, Chile, Israel/Palestine and the United States, bring a wealth of different perspectives, writing styles and the need to shine a light on issues important to their world. Sometimes funny, sometimes heartfelt, and often political, these plays serve a purpose in their community and to the world audience. The plays are written, directed, and acted by Columbia University School of the Arts MFA faculty, students and alumni. The performance is followed by a discussion with the playwrights and cast.

Lessons from Jazz:  Improvisation as a Way of Life, Leadership, and Resilience

Columbia University Jazz Performance Program Director, Chris Washburne and his band SYOTOS, demonstrate how the unique creative process of jazz, to which improvisation and collective collaboration are central, can offer alternative and dynamic models for leadership, adaptability, innovation, collaboration, and risk management within a wide variety of organization settings.  

“Lessons from Jazz” features live jazz performed by some of the most distinguished New York musicians, along with an interactive workshop on improvisation with participants, interspersed with discussions that explore:
• How jazz musicians use improvisation to create their art form
• How the improvisatory processes of jazz can translate into daily life and enrich experience
• What jazz can teach us about nurturing our own creativity, interactions, and survival skills
• How jazz can serve as a strategic model for resilience in large organizations
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.