Introducing the lineup of 2020-2021 Mason Artists-in-Residence

“One of the most formidable, if not most important, obstacle to creating new performance works at this time is the time, space and know how necessary to put an idea up on its feet and find an audience for it. I was exhilarated to participate in Mason’s Artist-in-Residence program as it succeeded in addressing the above concerns offering a way to the future of new performance!”

-Bill T. Jones

The Mason Artist-in-Residence program began in Fall 2019 as a way of fostering meaningful exchanges between the Center for the Arts’ communities and its visiting artists, creating opportunities for transformational experiences in and out of the concert hall and across George Mason University. Designed to engage and inspire the diverse audiences served by the Center for the Arts and the Hylton Performing Arts Center, these residencies also act as a catalyst for economic and cultural vibrancy of our region extending to the greater Fairfax and Prince William Counties.

Now as the Center for the Arts’ pivots to a revised format of programming for its 30th Anniversary Season, so too has the Mason Artist-in-Residence program. We are pleased to announce the initiative has shifted online for fall, while still serving the greater northern Virginia and Mason community. Third Coast Percussion, playwright Kaneza Schaal and Step Afrika! are developing meaningful opportunities for artistic development and community engagement events through virtual residencies. 

Grammy® Award-winning Third Coast Percussion has been reinventing the classical music experience in playful and unexpected ways for more than a decade. Their virtual residency will involve masterclasses with Mason percussion students, a free and open discussion on Entrepreneurship in the Arts, Virtual Field Trips for northern Virginia schools, and a lecture-performance with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services, and Lifelong Learning Institute-Manassas.

Theater artist Kaneza Schaal will conduct a research residency leading up to the Center for the Arts performance of CARTOGRAPHY in January 2021. Schaal will be working closely with Mason’s Game Design Program and VSGI to develop augmented reality tools to be used in future performance projects. Using Mark Twain’s 1905 pamphlet King Leopold’s Soliloquy as inspiration, her research will center around themes of colonization, and will include a virtual classroom visit with the School of Theater and a public livestreamed discussion.

Founded in 1994, D.C.-based Step Afrika! is the world’s first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping—a polyrhythmic, percussive dance form that uses the body as an instrument. Step Afrika! will be embarking on a residency to rehearse and record a new dance film from the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

Grammy Award-winning Jazz Composer Maria Schneider, whose spring 2020 residency was rescheduled due to COVID-19, will fulfill her in-person residency in spring 2021.

The inaugural year of residencies in 2019-2020 featured “Latin Alternative” powerhouse quartet LADAMA for five jam-packed days in October 2019 working with more than 1,450 community participants, and a week-long residency with world-renowned dance company Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in January 2020 for their world premiere of What Problem? featuring nearly 30 community members.

For more information on the Mason Artist-in-Residence program, visit: