Students take center stage as UVU’s Noorda Center for the Performing Arts opens

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The performing arts at UVU are now “literally on the map” because of the addition of the soon-to-be-open Noorda Center for the Performing Arts, according to Linda Moore, assistant dean of the School of the Arts.

“The Noorda” — the center’s common name — is a $58 million building specifically designed for students earning their degrees in theatre, dance, music and technical theatre.

The building features practice and performance rooms for each emphasis in the performing program such as a proscenium stage, an orchestral band room, a small choir hall and a dance stage with retractable doors.

The main corridor of the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts is shown on Feb. 13. While the building is operating at near full capacity, the official ribbon-cutting will take place March 25 in conjunction with the inauguration of President Astrid S. Tuminez.

“To have a successful performing arts program, you need three things: exceptional faculty, talented students, and facilities to make that happen,” Stephen Pullen, dean of the School of the Arts, said. “We finally have all the components in place to train students for the industry.”

“The students never had the opportunity to work in a concert hall on campus because there wasn’t one,” Moore said. “Now, there is.”

Before the Noorda, performing art students and visual art student shared space in the Gunther Technology building, which caused some problems for the latter.

According to Moore, the noise caused by music rehearsals disturbed adjacent classrooms, causing some to be canceled or finished earlier than scheduled.

Now, the orchestra students have their own soundproof concert hall to rehearse. The hall is the same size as the main stage, which provides a smooth transition from practice to performance.

Dance students were also affected before the performing arts center was built— their practice was often held in the UCCU Center.

“One [dance] class had to be canceled quite a bit because of athletics needing to use the space,” Moore said.

There are also several features in the Noorda for theatre design and production students that the GT lacked. The main stage features a fly loft for students to practice set transitions and scenery changes. A fly loft allows production to lift and drop sceneries on stage between set changes.

Moore said that these technical aspects open up new opportunities for design, production and lighting. Before, students studying these techniques had to practice off campus. Now, they can practice and produce in the same space.

“It keeps the learning on campus, so students won’t necessarily need to do an internship off campus,” Moore said.

The opening of the Noorda will bring opportunities for the community as well.

According to Pullen, the center speaks to UVU’s dual-mission because the school will be bringing in a wide range of local talent for performances and masterclasses.

“We anticipate that this will offer professional entertainment for the public in ways that we were unable to before,” Pullen said.

For example, Broadway actress Sierra Boggess will be teaching a masterclass to musical theatre students in the near future, he said.

Eventually, the Noorda will feature performances by the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and more, according to Pullen.

He also said that the school is working with other performing arts professionals to take up residency at the Noorda at least twice a year.

“Diavolo [a Los Angeles based dance ensemble] is going to be brought in for a week-long residency to work with students. At the end of it, UVU students will perform alongside the professionals,” Pullen said.

The Noorda is currently open for use by students, and will soon be open to the public starting with the “Week of Dreams” beginning March 25.

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Noorda March 25 at 1 p.m. with an open house from 2-4 p.m.

Featured photo by Johnny Morris. In the photo, Lexi Walker, freshman, auditions for the upcoming Broadway production of ‘Fly More Than You Fall,’ on Saturday, Feb. 2.