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Syllabus ARTS 1905/COLA 1001/TH 1905, Fall 2010


University of Minnesota

The Art of Collaboration

ARTS 1905, COLA 1001, TH 1905

Thursday 1:25-4:25 pm.

Regis Center W 257

3 Credits

Instructor Information

Guerino Mazzola

Office 164 Ferguson

Office: 612 624 4487

Home: 651 222 3601


Office hours: by appointment

Michael Sommers

Office 572 Rarig

612.625.7013 (University office)

612.823.5162 (Studio, Open Eye Figure Theatre)


Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 11:3o-12: 30 or by appointment. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.



Course Description

This introductory course presents the characteristics and the challenges of collaboration through representative approaches from the visual arts, music, literature, media and theater. The course content is designed upon three pillars: the collaborative space, flow and gesture. Through concrete problematic situations, in class discussion, readings and proposed themes students will work collaboratively to create a series of events/works to be presented in class. The Art of Collaboration is a laboratory, a place to play, inspire, question and fail. It is a platform to unlock personal images, and to cross boundaries. The class includes lectures by guest artists as well as exploration of the cultural landscape of the Twin Cities.

Goals and Objectives

The course objective is to make the students acquainted with the characteristics and challenge of collaboration, to teach them the intellectual and behavioral instruments of performing this art, specifically the installation and handling of a collaborative space, the flow performance of a distributed identity, and the communicative tools set forth by interdisciplinary exchange of ideas.


1: Active Participation: A willingness and readiness to participate, ask questions, respond to idea, take a critical stance, to take risks, work collaboratively and respect and support the thinking of others.

2: Attendance: is mandatory for full participation. You must notify the instructor if you are going to miss a class or expect to be late. For each unexcused absence (after the allotted 2, please do not use them) your grade will be lowered ½ letter grade.

3: Reading assignments will be given periodically. It is expected you will read and be prepared to discuss the reading at the next class.

4: There will be three in-class performance projects exploring the forms and techniques as discussed in the the lab. You will be given time inside class for project development and creation but outside time may be expected.

-The work should demonstrate: preparation, application of techniques and vocabulary explored in the class, with strong specific choices, artistic focus and commitment.

-A short written self-evaluation will be due after each performance; criteria for this will be discussed after each assignment.

5: Each student will be required to keep a written record THE DOCUMENT; the criteria fort his will be discussed in class.

6: The Final Project:

A team will work to create and develop a final project that will be presented the last day of class. Through the course of the semester the students will develop and propose their idea.


30% Participation and Attendance

30% In Class Projects

20% Growth

15% Final Project

5% The Document

Grading A-F

0-100 steps: 95-100 = A, 90-94 = A-, 85-89 = B+, 76-84 = B, 70-75 = B-, 65-69 = C; 60-64 = C-, 50-59 = D, 0-49 = F.

Plagiarism will not be tolerated and will lead to failure.


Weeks 1-5:Survey of Creative Collaboration

The Gesture: Playing and Making

Weeks 5-13: Practice and Critique of Collaboration

The Collaborative Space and Flow

Weeks 14-15: Final Project

Pillar of Guerino Mazzola

The embodied pulsation between the gesture of making, the processs, and the resulting facts.

Collaboration is spanned between the agents, which jointly make the labor, the processes they instanciate in so doing, and the resulting objects, facts, and works. We focus on the conceptual and technical devices needed in order to control these three layers of embodiment of knowledge production and their interplay. Collaboration must therefore transcend the merely interdisciplinary objectives, it has to deal with a different behavior in the making, in the communication between the agents, and in the critique of the resulting works, which bounce back to their creators. We shall typically exemplify this philosphy by examples from the world of jazz.

Pillar of Michael Sommers

The Body in Performance.

Students will explore the boundaries and intersections where multiple art forms and practices converge. Students will collaborate to co-author and co-create a series of works for in-class and public performance. Emphasis will be on exploring the collaborative process and the possibilities of integrating visual art, music, theatre and dance to create interdisciplinary and collaborative thinking, art, and performance.

Selected Original References

(1) Anne Bogart: A Director Prepares 2001
(2) Guerino Mazzola and Paul B. Cherlin: Flow, Gesture and Spaces in Free Jazz--Towards a Theory of Collaboration. Springer, Heidelberg 2009
(3) Keith Sawyer: Group Creativity: Music, Theatre, Collaboration 2003



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