FSPA’s Dort Honors String Quartet and Dover Quartet, The Year of Haydn: COVID Can’t Stop the Music, FIM Capitol theatre 2021

FIM Flint School of Performing Arts has many visiting instructors and ensembles every year across its venues and programs, from music to dance to theatre. FSPA students have opportunities every year to work with professionals and experience outstanding talent.

“The caliber of the artists is just off the charts, it happens every year, and it’s not thanks to one particular staff member. It’s an amazing combination of things; stars getting aligned within the organization. But also, people within FIM think big and reach way outside the organization to come up with these opportunities,” says Davin Pierson Torre, FIM Vice President of Performing Arts Instruction and FSPA Director.

FSPA regularly welcomes guest artist master classes. These top-in-field performers meet the students and listen to them play. The school is especially proud of the collaborations between the Dover Quartet and the Dort Honors String Quartet. The Grammy-nominated Dover Quartet was named one of the greatest string quartets in the last 100 years by BBC Music Magazine. The renowned quartet forged a unique relationship with FSPA’s Dort Honors String Quartet during the pandemic. It led to The Year of Haydn: COVID Can’t Stop the Music, an award-winning documentary that captured the excitement, determination and fun the Flint School of Performing Arts offers its students. On April 1, through a new collaboration with Chamber Music Detroit, the students had the opportunity to be the warm-up band prior to the Dover Quartet concert. And on May 18, the Dort Honors String Quartet attended a master class with the Julliard String Quartet, one of the top five string quartets in the world.

FSPA Flint Youth Theatre, Whirligig 2023

The dance department is proud to have amazing artists visit year-round as well. Most recently, Complexions Contemporary Ballet hosted a master class at FSPA. Complexions represents one of the most recognized, diverse, inclusive and respected performing arts brands in the world. It has received numerous awards, including The New York Times Critics’ Choice Award, and has appeared throughout the US and at major European dance festivals.

Earlier this year, renowned New York choreographer Christopher L. Huggins came to FSPA and choreographed a piece for the Flint Youth Ballet dancers. The FSPA Dance Department also has a partnership with the Balanchine Trust, giving it permission to perform Balanchine’s “Serenade” choreography. FYB has now performed “Serenade” three times, including once with an orchestra, as well as sections from Balanchine’s “Raymonda Variations.”

Flint Youth Theatre recently performed the one-act show “Whirligig.” The playwright, John Newman, attended the event. He interacted with the students and FSPA faculty. Additionally, FYT excitedly welcomed the acclaimed Janet Haley as a summer instructor. Haley is an active member of Actors’ Equity Association, an associate professor of theatre at The University of Michigan-Flint and is regularly cast in Flint Repertory Theatre productions.

“People have ideas about what living in Flint is like, and what you have access to, but when the students are here, they have no idea that other communities don’t get these exchanges and opportunities,” says Torre. “It’s not until they go away to university programs or Interlochen Arts Academy that they realize ‘who gets this?’ Nobody else gets this, and it’s happening right here in Flint, Michigan.”