Interdisciplinary artists Gary Upay’aq Beaver and Ryan Conarro visit the fall music course “Ballads, Blues, and Banjos: Folk Music in America,” taught by Princeton Arts Fellow Shawn Jaeger.
GARY UPAY’AQ BEAVER (Central Yup’ik) (co-creator, musician and choreographer, and performer) was born in Bethel, Alaska and raised in his family’s village of Kasigluk. He began learning yuraq (Yup’ik drum and dance) as a child at Kasigluk’s Akiuk Memorial School. He credits four elders as his primary teachers: Kalila Slim, Wassilie Berlin, Wassilie Nicholas, and Alexie Nicholas. Gary is leader of the Kasigluk dance group and has taught yuraq at schools throughout southwest Alaska, including Akula Elitnaurviat, Akiuk Memorial School, Yupiit School District, and for the village of Akiak. He was lead drummer, singer, and dancer for the multidisciplinary event “This Is Who We Are” in 2011 at Bethel Cultural Center, a performance of traditional Yup’ik stories as songs, dances, theatrical pieces, and digital stories, a year-long project directed by Ryan Conarro. He has performed traditional and contemporary work in Bethel at the annual Cama’i Festival and Mink Festival; in Anchorage at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention; on Quyana Alaska television; and in villages throughout the Yukon-Kuskokwim region.
RYAN CONARRO (co-director, co-creator, and performer) is a performance maker, teaching artist, and facilitator of community engagement. He is Artistic Collaborator and Community Projects Associate at Ping Chong + Company. Ryan has lived and made work in Alaska since 2001, where he’s a Perseverance Theatre company member, co-founder of Generator Theater, occasional documentary radio producer, and a member of the Alaska State Arts Council Arts Education Advisory Committee. Ryan is a Resident Artist with the international ensemble Theater Mitu. His work has been presented at the Kennedy Center, the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian, the Oregon Contemporary Theatre, the Stonington Opera House, Gainesville Theatre Alliance, and numerous venues in Alaska. As a puppeteer, he’s trained at the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference and Boulder’s Juniper Tree School of Puppetry Arts. In 2010-11, Ryan was director and lead teaching artist for Lower Kuskokwim School District’s interdisciplinary arts project Qanemciput Piliaput-llu: Our Stories & the Things We Made, weaving puppetry, performance, digital storytelling, and yuraq (Yup’ik drum and dance), with Gary Upay’aq Beaver as a collaborator. Ryan received the TCG Leadership U Fellowship; a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award; and the Ann Shaw Fellowship for arts education. MFA Interdisciplinary Arts, Goddard College; BFA, NYU. www.ryanconarro.com