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Joan of Arc empowers artists

Interdisciplinary project celebrates history of saint

Ariana+Pignatari%2C+a+junior+in+the+College+of+Arts+%26+Sciences%2C+sits+in+front+of+Joan+of+Arc+Chapel.+She+will+participate+in+ballet+performances+during+the+event+this+weekend.+
Ariana Pignatari, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, sits in front of Joan of Arc Chapel. She will participate in ballet performances during the event this weekend.

Ariana Pignatari, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, sits in front of Joan of Arc Chapel. She will participate in ballet performances during the event this weekend.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg andrew.himmelberg@marquette.edu

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg andrew.himmelberg@marquette.edu

Ariana Pignatari, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, sits in front of Joan of Arc Chapel. She will participate in ballet performances during the event this weekend.

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Joan of Arc is rumored to have once said, “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” For Ariana Pignatari, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, this quote shows how she, and other Marquette students, can represent Joan of Arc today.

“Hearken to My Voice,” a night of performances that tell the history of Joan of Arc and the chapel on Marquette’s campus, will be held April 28 – 30. The multi-disciplinary show will feature elements of dance, song, costume and theater. The students who worked on this project all semester come from Ballet II, composition and choreography classes, a theatre senior capstone, costume technology, an English capstone and MU Chorus.

The students in each class have been working on projects related to the performances since January. They will be aided by faculty members from the Haggerty Museum of Art as well as MU’s Faber Center.

Pignatari said in an email that she got involved with the Joan of Arc Project because of her career goals. She is in the physical therapy program and decided to take Ballet I and II in order to see how dancers train and to learn more about them. A large number of young patients that Pignatari has and will continue to encounter in her career, are dancers.

The dance portion of the project is much more than just perfecting choreography.

“We read books, watched movies, attended lecture sessions, learning about the history of the chapel, along with studying ballet, and preparing the four dances we will be performing,” Pignatari said.

But before they can prepare for the show, students were first required to do research on Joan of Arc. The idea is to connect with the person she was before performing in her name.

Pignatari admitted she initially had a hard time finding a connection with Joan of Arc. It was not until she heard the quote, “I am not afraid. I was born to do this,” that she finally fully connected with the saint.

“I felt like everything came together for me at that moment,” Pignatari said.

Connie Petersen, professor for the Advanced Costume Technology course, described the work her class has been doing.

“The students learn how to use their costume skills to design a dance costume, create the patterns based off the dancers measurements and then build the final costume to be worn in the performance,” Petersen said in an email. “It’s inspiring to have a woman like Joan of Arc that is younger than our college students, but who was still able to accomplish as much as she did.”

Catey Ott Thompson’s Ballet II class is passionate about the performances as well. The Joan of Arc project has a blog page with weekly posts about the process of preparing for the show.

Ott Thompson’s students continually share their feelings about the performances.

Nikki Svabek, a student in the class, said in an email, “I appreciate establishing a relationship between ballet and Joan of Arc. It’s an honorable experience using such a feminine empowered form of art to depict the story of one of the most courageous women of all time.”

Because there are several Marquette classes and organizations performing, the layout of performances will engage audience members in different ways. Each performance is 12 minutes long, and when time is up, audience members will rotate to a new station. The rotation will continue until everyone has seen all the performances.

If it rains, the performances will be held in the Helfaer Theatre at normally scheduled times.

“All these experiences make us who we are and help us to determine the beliefs that we will stand up for, just like Joan. We are all born to do important things; it is just a matter of following our hearts and our beliefs to determine what those things may be,” Pignatari said.

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