The University of Texas at Dallas is a STEM school, right? Known as “the MIT of the South”, UTD has built its reputation as a premier computer science, arts technology, pre-medical, and medical engineering school over its fifty-year lifespan, and rightly so. Cutting edge facilities, knowledgeable and personable professors, hands-on lab experience, and rigorous academic programs suffuse all fields of UTD STEM. Be that as it may, “the MIT of the South” has another ace up its sleeve. Underappreciated and almost unnoticed, UTD’s supplementary ace is its masterful performing arts program. UTD Performing Arts (UTD PA), though not granted the primacy that has been given to STEM, UTD PA is a phenomenal program that encompasses all worlds of performing, with professors and students who are all exuberantly passionate and live to master and perfect their skills.
The arts community is one of the most diverse out there, making sure that everyone is safe, comfortable, and heard is vital. UTD PA knows this and made sure to create a pervasive safe space. To get another student’s opinion, I spoke with Quinlan Franke, who recently made their UTD theater debut as Boggett in Phoebe in Winter. Quinlan commented, “When I was in ‘Phoebe’, I played Boggett as queer, like she had romantic interest in, or was infatuated with Phoebe. Our director always said, ‘Yeah, if you want to go with that, let’s go with that!’ The fact that I am able to portray these characters in such a personal way really means a lot to me.” Quinlan has been at UTD since Fall 2019; prior to that, they took a gap year to study abroad in Fontainebleau, France at the Fontainebleau School of Acting. After returning to Texas and transferring to UTD, they quickly noticed the quality and sheer teaching skill that UTD PA professors have, “It’s definitely hard, the way theater is taught, to teach to different learning styles. You know, we don’t have an actual classroom, we have a little dance studio. Despite the limitations, our professors are very good at adapting to those needs.”
If you are a student, new or old, looking to even just try performing arts, take a class, or come to a club meeting. We would be more than happy to have you join us! If you are currently looking for classes, Christine Sanders’ Acting I class (THEA 1351), Sarah Matzke’s Dance Technique I class (DANC 2331), Kathy Lingo’s Improv I class (THEA 2372), Monica Saba’s Introduction to World Dance Forms class (DANC 1305), or any of the Understanding Theater/Dance sections (THEA/DANC 1310) are excellent places to start. All of these classes are prime ways to: step out of your comfort zone in a judgment-free environment; foster new, strong friendships; and grow immensely as a person. If you want a setting where you are always included in class, where you are respected for who you are, and where professors will work their hardest to help you succeed, then UTD Performing Arts is your place!

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