Just a ten-minute drive from SMU’s campus is a hub for visual and performing arts known as the Dallas Arts District. As a lover of all things performance, this is my favorite part of downtown—whether it be theater, opera, concerts, musical theater, dance or classical music—there are so many performance experiences to take advantage of.
In May 2016, I decided to combine my love of performing arts with service and completed training as a volunteer usher for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, which encompasses the Winspear Opera House, Wyly Theatre, Strauss Square, and Sammons Park. As a volunteer, I scan tickets, assisting patrons to their seat, direct people to the bathroom and concessions during intermission, and help exit traffic after the show. In between all of that, I get to watch the performances for free! In my time volunteering, I’ve gotten to see wonderful performances through Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Opera and national tours featured as part of the Broadway Series. For a college student on a budget, it’s been a great way to see some of the highest quality entertainment in town for free and also feel good by getting in volunteer hours. I love working with AT&T Performing Arts Center because I get to mesh my passions with service.
As a double major in music and biology with a minor in musical theatre, having the Arts District so close has really enhanced my learning in the classroom at SMU. For my Evolution of American Musical Theatre class sophomore year, we did an in-depth research paper on Bob Fosse and the previous summer I got to usher for Cabaret at the Center. As a result, I came in with background knowledge of his choreography style, which was incredibly helpful for the initial class discussions on the topic. This semester, I am in Seminar of Opera History, and not only will we study the score as a class, but we also get to experience a live production of Samson et Dalila at the Dallas Opera this October. Even better, SMU Chair of Voice, Clifton Forbis, is starring as Samson (more SMU connections)!
Even if you can’t volunteer like I do, most productions have discounted “student rush” tickets available with a valid student ID if you show up an hour before show time. I encourage you to check out a performance and explore my favorite part of the city—there’s always something happening in the Arts District!