International Conference "Theatre Between Tradition and Contemporaneity"
Theatre - Dance - Music - Visual & Multimedia Art - Arts Administration - Performing Arts Training - Theater Design & Technology

December 18 - 22, 2014


Mining the Essence (Creating Performance Art)

Practical workshop by Ken Skrzesz (USA) - Actor, Choreographer, Director, Educator,
Performing and Visual Arts Magnet Teacher Specialist and Theatre Teacher,
Coordinator of Fine Arts for the Maryland State Department of Education. 

Ken Skrzesz is an active master teacher of acting and dance throughout the United States and was most recently the Executive Director of the Clear Space Theatre Company where he created the Arts Institute providing innovative and progressive classes in acting, movement and voice through a curriculum for students of all ages. His long-term teaching posts have included the Carver Center for Arts and Technology (a performing arts high school in Baltimore County), Goucher College, Southwest Missouri State University, University of North Carolina and private schools throughout the country. Ken has served as the Executive Director of Kinetics Dance Theatre and the Director of Student Life for the School of American Ballet in New York City. His teaching specializes in the modern dance technique of Jose Limon, all levels of ballet and the Stanislavski acting technique. In 1997 Ken was nominated for the Governor’s Award for Arts Educator of the Year. Ken’s former students have appeared on Broadway in MAMMA, MIA!, CHICAGO, THE WILD PARTY, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE LION KING, HAIRSPRAY, and THE BOOK OF MORMON, and appear in numerous professional dance companies, television shows, movies, regional theatre productions and national tours. Ken presently serves as the theatre teacher and Performing and Visual Arts Magnet Teacher Specialist for Anne Arundel County Public Schools where he developed programming and created curriculum for the county’s first arts magnet high school.

Ken was very recently appointed as the Coordinator of Fine Arts for the Maryland State Department of Education. 

Arts administration is consistently woven through Ken’s career. His abilities in procedural development, considerations of all viewpoints to guide people to consensus, and both envisioning and implementation of large projects have been utilized in non-profit, public school and university settings. Ken has designed arts education programs in numerous locations then brought the design to fruition through curriculum writing, staff professional development, budget creation and ongoing assessment and response. His enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, all art forms has allowed him to create successful campaigns in community partnerships, donor development, and student recruitment with a special emphasis on serving economically challenged and culturally underserved populations.

As a performer, Ken Skrzesz has appeared as everything from Ludwig von Beethoven with the BALTIMORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA to Herr Drosselmeyer in THE NUTCRACKER. His theatre background includes 20 leading roles as diverse as Archibald in THE SECRET GARDEN, Curly in OKLAHOMA!, Judge Turpin in SWEENEY TODD, and Lancelot in CAMELOT. Ken became a member of Actors’ Equity Association in 1989 while performing in MR. CINDERS at the Goodspeed Opera House. He has danced in concert with Alan Danielson and Company, Deborah Carr’s Theatre Dance Ensemble, Kinetics Dance Theatre and toured internationally with SURGE Dance Company. He has performed as a guest artist in Jose Limon’s CHOREOGRAPHIC OFFERING and with the TED SHAWN LEGACY. Ken is a baritone soloist and has toured extensively with various versions of AN AMERICAN SONGBOOK since 1999 (more than 100 performances). Ken earned his Master of Fine Arts in dance from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro where he performed with the dance, opera, music, and theatre departments. He is a native Baltimorean where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Towson State University. In 1985 Ken received the Baltimore Mayor’s Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts. He received distinguished alumni awards from Towson State University in 1992 and from the University of North Carolina in 2008. 

Ken has choreographed and/or directed more than 200 works for the concert, opera and theatre stage. His choreography has been commissioned by dance, opera, theatre and musical theatre companies in 8 states. Ken’s direction of book shows spans the styles of the work of Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, and Tennessee Williams to the musicals of Kander and Ebb, Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hammerstein. His training in acting and dance allows for a seamless approach to all staging while emphasizing honest communication through dialogue, song and movement. In his studies, Ken has focused on the technique of José Limón as a student of Ruth Currier, Risa Steinberg and Betty Jones. His article, Ruth Currier: Translating Humphrey, can be found in the August 1990 issue of Dance Magazine.  He has also studied modern dance with Nina Weiner and Bill T. Jones and ballet with Finis Jhung and Gabrielle Darvash. Ken has received awards in choreography from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council and the Delaware Division of the Arts. Ken is well-versed in the Stanislavski traditions of acting and is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.


Because of the variety of languages represented at the conference, one piece of traditional, culturally recognizable visual art will be displayed for the participants. After jotting observations of the art work, participants will be led through a series of exercises that allow them to investigate visual art as inspiration for the creation of contemporary performance art. 

The investigation elevates the participant above the art work to search for the essence of the meaning. 

What is the artist’s true purpose?
What is the central metaphor? 
Is a narrative or chronology of narrative action present?  
What components must be kept in-tact when using this piece as inspiration?  
What elements stand out as essential (sound, environment, properties)?  
What attributes of the work are absolutely necessary to communicate?  

Responses to each question are shared and a collaborative conversation is facilitated until the group (or multiple groups) agree on central themes.  

The participants are then guided toward a creative response through voice, movement and communication exercises until a brief performance art piece unfolds.  
If time permits, a DVD example of a fully-developed piece will be shared. Participants will be allowed time for reflection and questions and answers.

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse"