Courtesy / Henry Duitman
Rehearsal for Bodies in Motion

Courtesy photo

Courtesy / Henry Duitman Rehearsal for “Bodies in Motion”

Briana Doolan

In honor of the 25-year partnership between Grand Valley State University and London’s Kingston University, GVSU music and dance students will be part of the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements – the 2012 London Cultural Olympics.

The brainchild of Kingston University’s Collegiate Music head, David Obson said the Cultural Olympics aim to celebrate the upcoming 2012 London Olympics through dance, music, theater, film and digital innovation.

Henry Duitman, assistant professor in the music department and director of orchestra at GVSU, said though both universities have individual strengths to bring to the table, Kingston’s technology is what he described as “outstanding,” allowing for the university to spearhead the event.

“‘Bodies in Motion’ is certainly an important collaboration with educational benefits for every one of the GVSU and Kingston students and faculty who are engaged in it,” Duitman said.“More importantly, it may also be a ground-breaking use of web-based technology for developing and producing one live artistic event simultaneously in three places on two continents. I am proud to be part of this new type of collaborative artistic and technological research.”

The partnership between the universities, he said, have just begun to thrive within the last two years and out of all of GVSU’s partnerships, the one with Kingston University has had the most exchange.

Rebecca Hambleton, director of study abroad and international partnerships at the Padnos International Center, said Kingston is by far the most popular exchange partner at GVSU for student, faculty and staff exchanges.

GVSU developed the partnership back in 1987,” Hambleton said. “Since 1987, numerous exciting and meaningful opportunities have been organized between our institutions. There have been hundreds of participants over the past 25 years on student exchanges, faculty-led programs, summer school programs, art exchanges, faculty/staff collaborations, and more.”

The GVSU Symphony Orchestra, directed by Duitman, and members of the Grand Valley Dance Ensemble, directed by Shawn T. Bible, are joining Kingston University to present “Bodies in Motion” on the Allendale Campus.

Among other GVSU per formers are student dancers Judi Jaekel and Jessica Loosenort. The dancers costumes contain Wii controllers to allow their movements to trigger specific pre-recorded music events, which allow them to perform simultaneously with ensembles from Kingston University and the Amsterdam Conservatory.

Performances will take place in the dance studio of GVSU’s Performing Arts Center on the Allendale Campus on July 9 at 2:30 p.m., July 10 at 1:30 p.m. and July 12 at 1:00 p.m. “Bodies in Motion” is a transcontinental performance, so performances will take also place in Amsterdam at the same time.

During the July 12 performance, the Grand Valley Symphony Orchestra will perform in Allendale as dancers from the other two universities respond to the music.

Duitman also said that the universities are exploring a possible trip for GVSU students to visit Kingston University in the near future – but those plans are still in motion.

In order to allow viewing around the world, “Bodies in Motion” will be captured for live web casts, viewable each day at

“GV’s exchange programs offer unique opportunities to learn about another cultures, learn from faculty who might have a different perspective on a particular academic area, and continue making progress towards your GVSU degree,” Hambleton said. “One of the major contributors of success with the Kingston University partnership are the incredible collegial connections that have been made across our campuses. [Also,] both universities are actively engaged in sending and receiving students, faculty and staff. The Kingston students and colleagues who visit each year offer so much to our community.”

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