Welcome to NTID Performing Arts! Fall 2023 brings many changes. First, we are proud to announce our new Dance Immersion and Minor; and our new ASL Performance Minor. Second, our newly renovated department spaces will be reopening as of October 2! Finally, we are excited to announce our 2023-24 joint season with the College of Liberal Arts. We look forward to another outstanding year of theatre and dance productions. See you there!
The NTID Department of Performing Arts produces several shows per season. Faculty and staff collaborate extensively with the College of Liberal Arts’ School of Performing Arts, while also maintaining NTID’s long tradition of Deaf-centered theatre and dance. All of our productions are accessible to Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing audiences, whether back stage, onstage, or in the house. We are also committed to offering accessible performances for audiences with visual and other disabilities.
The NTID Department of Performing Arts offers an array of courses in dance, Deaf performance, and technical theatre taught by our accomplished faculty and staff. The department offers a Minor and Immersion in Theatre Design and Stagecraft; a Minor and Immersion in Dance; and a Minor in ASL Performance for bachelor level students.
Our Mission and Values
The NTID Department of Performing Arts immerses students in a creative environment where they can explore the intersections of the performing arts, technology, and deafness. Benefits from studying and participating in the performing arts include:
- Fostering an appreciation of diverse art forms
- Developing creativity and self-expression
- Strengthening visual perspectives and sign language competencies
- Developing interpersonal, artistic and expressionistic skills that can be used in many other aspects of life
We recognize each individual's background and experiences provide unique perspectives as we represent the world around us through the arts. We believe the performing arts should provide the foundational environment to embrace and reflect this diversity on stage, backstage and through the lens of the audience. Our work is guided by these principles:
- Choose season programming that presents a range of voices and creates opportunities for diverse, inclusive casting.
- Select directors and production leaders from a wide range of backgrounds.
- Embrace diverse, inclusive casting for every role, while honoring a playwright’s expressed intentions and adherence to licensing agreements.
- Provide opportunities for students to grow as artists, rather than being solely defined by their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, hearing status, disability, or other identifying characteristic.
- Actively engage with RIT, local, and national communities to recruit performers and production team members from diverse backgrounds.
- Maintain and advance the long history and legacy of deaf-centered performance at NTID.
- Regularly offer visual description, relaxed performances, and other accommodations to make our productions accessible to people with disabilities.
- Experiment with new modes of performance that create new possibilities for artistic expression and inclusion.
- Eliminate barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in design and production activities.
- Recognize and work to dismantle systematic barriers to access and inclusion within the college and institute.
- Ensure our teaching materials and practices are accessible, inclusive, and equitable.
- Seek out opportunities to continue our individual journeys in creating an intersectional, inclusive, and culturally-respectful department environment.
Performing Arts at RIT originated with NTID. After the success of the student drama club founded by Dr. Robert Panara in 1969, drama became an integral part of NTID’s curriculum. The Experimental Educational Theatre Program opened in 1974 and eventually became the Department of Performing Arts. Until the College of Liberal Arts opened in 1997, we were the only college on campus offering theater, dance, and even music classes. Deaf theatre faculty over the years have included Patrick Graybill, Phyllis Frelich, Susan Jackson, Aaron Kelstone, Shanny Mow, and Howie Seago. Performance group Sunshine Too was part of the department from 1980-1989, touring nationally and internationally to present programs about Deaf awareness, social issues and the environment. The company was relaunched in 2017 as Sunshine 2.0. Dance was added to the curriculum in the 1980s, under the leadership of Michael Thomas. The RIT/NTID Dance Company, a unique ensemble of deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students, presented a diverse repertoire of student and faculty choreography from 1980-2010. In 2021, the dance company was relaunched as Dance Core under the direction of faculty Marc Holland.