Rebecca Reuter on Community-Based Learning and Outreach

Thursday, Jul 06, 2017
Juilliard Journal
Rebecca Reuter
Rebecca Reuter is assistant director of educational outreach at Juilliard.

As assistant director of educational outreach at Juilliard, Rebecca Reuter oversees MAP (Music Advancement Program), the Saturday instrumental instruction program for students from backgrounds underrepresented in the American performing arts. When she's not at the office, Rebecca, an actor and dancer, runs the professional sacred dance troupe Omega Dance Company. Born and raised in San Jose, Calif., Rebecca received bachelor's degrees in theater arts and Spanish studies from Santa Clara University and then performed with regional theaters and contemporary choreographers in the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to New York City, where she started auditioning on the musical theater circuit. "I still miss the excitement of walking into an audition expecting the unexpected," she said.

What's one of your favorite Juilliard memories?

For several years, I served as an advisor for the ARTreach New Orleans Service Project, accompanying Juilliard students as they taught, gave free performances, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity during their spring break. Each trip was memorable, but my favorite moment was listening to one student describe how her experience in New Orleans reaffirmed for her why she was studying at Juilliard in the first place—to deepen her ability to connect with others through something that is vitally human: art.

What's changed most about Educational Outreach since you've been here?

The skill level of the MAP students has shifted from beginning to intermediate/advanced, so we've made adjustments to support their broader needs. And in our Educational Outreach fellowships for Juilliard students, we've added more emphasis on developing teaching and "speaking from the stage" skills. It's no longer enough for artists to simply be superb at their craft—they must also be entrepreneurs, advocates, and educators.

My favorite moment: listening to one student describe how her experience in New Orleans reaffirmed for her why she was studying at Juilliard—to deepen her ability to connect with others through art.

What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?

In college, I spent my free time assisting in the costume shop and have always wondered what it would be like to work on a professional wardrobe crew. I love the balance between practical, solitary tasks and creative collaboration with directors and performers.

What is the most memorable job you've ever had and what made it so?

In fifth grade, I performed in a school production of The Wizard of Oz that convinced me that theater and dance were what I wanted to do with my life. Fresh out of college a decade later, I landed my first professional theater gig in a regional production of the same show. To begin my professional career with the same material that had inspired me to follow this crazy dream in the first place was a glorious and affirmative full-circle moment!

I'm a strong believer in the value of community-based learning—helping students better understand what they are learning about in the classroom by experiencing it in the real world.

Tell us about Omega.

It was founded by Carla De Sola Eaton (Diploma '60, dance), who was inspired to explore the connection between spirituality and movement after studying with faculty member José Limón while he was creating Missa Brevis at Juilliard in the 1950s. People often ask me what a sacred dance company is—we're professional dancers who seek to reveal and celebrate the sacred—whatever that means to dancers, choreographers, and audiences—through movement.

How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?

I'm fortunate to work with two spectacular teams of committed and creative people at Juilliard and Omega. Without their support, balancing my administrative and artistic work would be impossible. I also try to be very intentional with my time, dedicating set hours in the evenings and on my days off from Juilliard for Omega tasks.

Are there parallels between your work at Juilliard and your work with Omega?

There's definitely overlap in terms of administrative skills—so much of what artists do is about organizing the right people to do certain things in particular places. Both jobs also have me dipping my foot into the teaching world—as a rehearsal director, choreographer, and workshop presenter with Omega, and as an advisor to teaching artists at Juilliard.

What other pursuits are you passionate about?

I'm a strong believer in the value of community-based learning—helping students better understand what they are learning about in the classroom by experiencing it in the real world. And my husband is a professional singer and conductor, so I'm also becoming more and more of a performer and lover of choral music.

What might people be surprised to know about you?

People tend to think of me as a very serious person, but I'm actually really silly. I'm also an identical twin, so if you've said hello to me on the subway and I didn't respond, I wasn't being rude—you were probably talking to my sister! (This has happened to multiple Juilliard students!)