The Center for the Performing Arts has received a grant administered by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, with funds from the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, in the Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program.  The purpose of the Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program is to identify, support, and document cross-campus interdisciplinary collaborations that integrate the work of performing arts presenters in the academy and the surrounding community. Our team proposed a residency/creation program between Penn State students and faculty in architecture, landscape architecture, dance and engineering, with secondary partnership with the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens in the Arboretum at Penn State and the E-Learning Institute in the College of Arts and Architecture. Our artistic partner in the project is Los Angeles-based Diavolo Dance Theatre, Jacques Heim, artistic director. The collaboration between the student/faculty team and Diavolo will result in two unique dance works.

The Secret Life of Public Spaces is a multi-disciplinary, action-research project to invigorate public space. Public space is the theatre of everyday life; on its stage we engage with the environment, culture and citizenship. Everyday patterns often slip into invisibility and are lost to mindful engagement. The Secret Life of Public Spaces proposes that a rediscovery of movement (people), topography (space), and devices (objects), based on inquiry and performance will reveal and recast the everyday dynamics of public spaces. Student performances will build on the interplay of movement and devices — a central theme of Diavolo's work. Their explorations of community and campus spaces will introduce a third element - topography - and inspire Diavolo to bring active topography to the theater stage.

Outcomes include: research into contemporary dance, public spaces, and kinetic objects; site-specific dance performances and kinetic objects by Penn State students and faculty on two campus and community spaces: the HUB plaza and the Arboretum's event lawn. A world-premiere work by Diavolo Dance Theatre will be performed at Eisenhower Auditorium and continue on international tours. The project outcomes will contribute practically to advances in contemporary dance, the design of parks and public spaces, and the creation of buildings and furnishings.


Peter Aeschbacher, assistant professor of Landscape Architecture and Architecture
Elisha Clark Halpin, assistant professor of Dance, head of the Dance Department
Khanjan Mehta, senior research associate, College of Engineering
Marcus Shaffer, assistant professor of Architecture
Timothy Simpson, professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Director of the Learning Factory
Amy Dupain Vashaw, director of audience and program development, Center for the Performing Arts