The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance educates the artists, scholars, educators and entrepreneurs of the future. Students are prepared with expert skills, instilled with passionate enthusiasm, and emboldened to challenge and inspire the world through the power of the performing arts.
Recognizing extraordinary excellence in performing arts entrepreneurship, leadership, and social impact, the EXCELprize will insure sustainability of festival in future years.
SMTD has partnered with the Gershwin family to bring the music of George and Ira Gershwin to students, scholars, performers and audiences across campus and worldwide.
Associate Professor of Dance
A leading researcher and pianist in the area of dance music studies, Christian Matijas-Mecca has served as musical repetiteur in the staging of dances by Balanchine, Graham, Weidman, Taylor, Dean, and Lubovitch and has accompanied for directors and artists from such dance companies as the New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Cullberg Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, and many others. Most memorably for him, he collaborated with director Robert Benedetti on his restaging of Marc Blitzstein's play, The Cradle Will Rock, both in Ann Arbor and Las Vegas. Matijas-Mecca has also built a reputation as a composer for dance, and has composed works that include a commissioned score for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Existence Without Form (2006), that was choreographed by Uri Sands. With U-M alumnus and pianist Ilya Blinov, Matijas-Mecca also maintains an active concert career beyond dance, and through their partnership, the RusCa Piano Duo, he regularly performs the music of Stravinsky, Gavrilin, and Ravel in concerts in the United States and Canada.
Matijas-Mecca has presented conference papers at professional societies in England, Ireland, Finland, France, Taiwan, Canada, and the U.S. and he has also been a speaker at London's Royal Academy of Dance. In 2011, he was invited to present a lecture-recital at the Jane Austen House and Museum in Chawton, England, where he performed a selection of music drawn from Austen's personal music library on the author's 1810 Clementi piano. More recently, Matijas-Mecca's research interests have focused on popular music, and he has begun preliminary research on a book that will focus on Detroit's Invictus and Hot Wax Records labels, founded by Holland-Dozier-Holland and active in the 1970s. He is also under contract to write The Words and Music of Brian Wilson, which is slated to appear in print in 2016 as part of the Praeger Singer-Songwriter series.
Matijas-Mecca joined the University of Michigan in 1998 after having served for several years on the faculty at Interlochen Arts Academy. He currently teaches classes in accompanying for dance, the history of dance music, sophomore seminar, music for dance, and the introduction to graduate research. He also serves as the director of the dance BFA curriculum.
A native of Los Angeles, Matijas-Mecca earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Southern California, where he studied piano under Bernardo Segall and Harpsichord and Early Music Performance under James Tyler and Malcolm Hamilton.
“Christian is an excellent musician. Am sure George would approve.” — Maria Tallchief
U-M Photo Services