Hey Interlochen, thanks for the great article in Crescendo Magazine. Here it is…..check out the funny pic of me as a teenager….gotta love that 80′s hair!
When Jen Shuber (Jennifer Cohen IAC 84-89) left Toronto, Ontario, to attend Interlochen Arts Camp in 1984, it was just the first of many journeys across the Canadian border to follow her passion for theatre and dance. She always knew she would bring that passion home to Canada, and that is exactly what she is doing now, working as a director and choreographer based in Toronto.
Jen first heard about Interlochen from Frank (IAC 57-59) and Millie (Lorman IAC 52, 54-59) Richmond, family friends who met as high school campers at Interlochen and later married. As Jen became more involved in theatre and dance as a child, they recommended that her parents consider Interlochen. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” Jen says. Her six summers at Interlochen prepared her to earn a bachelor in fine arts from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a Shakespeare certificate from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and ultimately inspired her to pursue a career in theatre back in her hometown.
“It’s a smaller scene than New York, but it’s very vibrant,” Jen says of her work in Toronto. “We have a lot of theatre companies here, and it’s a great place to work. It was always my intention to come back.” Her recent work includes directing “Visiting Mr. Green” for the Harold Green Jewish Theatre and choreographing a Dora Award-winning production of “A Year with Frog and Toad.” In 2009 and 2010, she was nominated for the Mike Ockrent Fellowship by the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers in New York—the first Canadian to receive a nomination. She has worked with many Canadian theatre companies, including the Stratford Festival, Soulpepper, Cirque Du Soleil, Young People’s Theatre, Tarragon and Great Canadian Theatre Company. She also serves as a live entertainment consultant for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jen’s commitment to the arts in Canada is fueling another passion these days: spreading the word about Interlochen in Canada. Canadians have been an integral part of the Interlochen community nearly from its founding in 1928; and there are now more than 2,000 Interlochen alumni living, working and contributing to the arts in Canada. Recently, Jen has played an instrumental role in helping Interlochen establish a new outreach, Canadian Friends of Interlochen.
“There are a lot of young artists up here in Canada who could benefit greatly from the kind of faculty that Interlochen has and could give back to the Canadian arts landscape and to our community here,” Jen says, pointing out that Interlochen alumni contribute to the arts in many ways, whether or not they pursue the arts professionally. Through Canadian Friends of Interlochen, Jen hopes to see more alumni and friends in Canada reconnect with Interlochen and each other and ultimately work together to build awareness of and support for Interlochen across the border.
Beyond the excellent arts education Interlochen offers, Jen cites two things that make Interlochen unique: the opportunity to interact with young artists from other disciplines as well as the experience of being immersed in the arts in such a beautiful setting.
“I think one of the things that was really interesting about Interlochen was having a major while also being exposed to other art disciplines,” Jen comments, noting that it’s something that affects her work even now. “It gave me a broader background in how I thought about the arts and the work that I do. That piece was really important to me. It gave me a well-rounded background in the arts.”
The opportunity to do what she loved amidst the lakes and trees of Interlochen has stayed with her as well. “There’s something special about being able to take a dance class while you’re overlooking the water, or walking through the forest and hearing music coming out of those huts.” With the establishment of Canadian Friends of Interlochen, hopefully many more young artists will follow in Jen’s footsteps to the woods of Michigan and back home to Canada.
Connect with the Canadian Friends of Interlochen on Facebook!