Inside a dance studio in the Fisher Center, the University’s academic facility in midtown Manhattan, the soundtrack to Dreamgirls is playing, and loudly. Actress Jennifer Hudson belts out, “I am changing, I’ll be better than I am… But I need you, I need a hand.” Even louder, movement teacher Darryl Quinton blasts encouragement to a roomful of Syracuse actors-in-training. He weaves among them, getting in their faces, making them laugh, making them sweat, and calling on them to shout out lines for the rest of the class to repeat at the top of their lungs (“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world!”) while they hold painfully still in excruciating poses intended to strengthen their bodies and, more importantly, their acting skills.
Later in the day, after changing from workout gear to street clothes, students gather around comedic actor and writer Ed Herbstman, who coaches them in the virtues and intricacies of improvisation. “I’m going to repeat this constantly: Dive deeper, go deeper, invest in what you are doing instead of inventing,” he says, inviting two students to serve as “guinea pigs” in a demonstration of “a different way of encountering information from somebody.” Lots of laughter fills this class, too, as students collaborate in the moment to create characters and scenes, simply by playing off each other’s body language and facial expressions.
Across the hall, in a different type of artists’ studio, another kind of learning activity is taking place. A hushed intensity is the only soundtrack here, where architecture students sit at computers alone or in twos, surrounded by three-dimensional models crafted of white paper or pale blue foam. Professor Angela Co consults privately with a pair of students, first at the computer and then while studying their models, asking questions and offering suggestions for variations. “There are some really lovely effects in this one,” Co says, gently holding an intricate paper model not much bigger than a sandwich. “I’m glad you guys took on this challenge. And it’s quite well made considering how difficult it is.” The three scholars rarely look up from the work they are discussing, and, in fact, no one in the room even seems to notice the lively gathering of drama students who are talking and laughing at their lockers on the other side of the studio’s glass walls.
New York is so vibrant, so dynamic, so layered with culture. It’s the most interesting city in the world. Now we can offer our students an even greater chance to tap into that.—Winston Fisher ’96, University Trustee
Though dissimilar in form and content, these two academic endeavors share a common bond: Both are Syracuse University programs providing students with invaluable immersion experiences in New York City—a city that’s home to more than 40,000 Syracuse alumni, and one that offers up the ultimate real-world learning environment. The Tepper Semester is Syracuse’s rigorous conservatory-style training program for drama students, giving young artists exposure to the industry through master classes, interactions with faculty and guest artists who are at the top of their professions, and introducing them to all aspects of life in New York’s cultural and theater world. “The Tepper Semester seeks to educate students not only in the specifics of their chosen fields, but also through developing them as the unique artists they are,” says award-winning casting director David Caparelliotis, who teaches advanced audition techniques. “No other program exposes students to so many types of theater, from downtown to Broadway, and creates a platform to help them integrate and metabolize these experiences into their own work.”
The Syracuse Architecture New York City program blends classroom and design studio learning with guest lectures and an extensive field trip itinerary, providing students with diverse opportunities to learn from renowned Manhattan-based architects while gaining a firsthand experience in one of the world’s great cities. “Design-wise, so much is happening here, and the program connects us to that,” says architecture student Lara Moock ’16, who hopes to work in the city after graduating. “New York is such an international hub and it’s always exciting. Being here is an amazing experience. It motivates me and gets me passionate about architecture.”
Great Things Ahead
Syracuse’s continued growth in New York City is an idea that gets Winston Fisher fired up, and it’s one he hopes other alumni will want to get on board with. “I’m competitive, and I want Syracuse to be the best,” he says. “I want us to do great things and achieve greatness. And because I’m in real estate, I think facilities can help us do that. I believe the Fisher Center can be the start of something that’s transformative for the University in terms of New York City offerings. It’s a beautiful, modern, and really cool learning environment in a phenomenal location. And I’m proud of it.”