Stationed in front of a dance studio with her back toward the mirror, Jasmine Rafael slowly takes three steps forward before bending and scooping the air with her left arm. Continuing this motion while turning to the left, Rafael doesn’t stop until she’s pivoted 180 degrees. Standing upright and facing a room of nearly 30 Bryant students, Rafael — a Broadway actress who’s previously danced for Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj — watches the group mimic her movements. Pleased with what she sees, she addresses the pianist who’s tucked in the corner of the room.
“Let’s try it from the top,” she says.
Students scurry to their starting positions and silently count four measures before breaking out in song and dance to the finale of & Juliet. It’s day three of Bryant’s Arts in the City trip, and undergraduates aren’t just observing the arts; they’re living and breathing them.
Hosted by Bryant’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Amica Center for Career Education, Arts in the City, which ran from January 10 through January 14, exposes students to the arts, arts-related internships and careers, and alumni working in creative industries. The five-day trip to New York City is available to all students and attracts a range of majors, from Accounting to Biology.
“This trip helps us gain a broader perspective on the arts,” says Ian Cannon ’26, an International Business major who’s co-president of Bryant’s Arts Council and Jazz Ensemble. “A lot of these events focus on the business side of art and, as someone who's interested in the music industry, it helps me view my studies in a different way.”
During one such event, actor, director, and marketer Hugh Hysell walks students through the business of Broadway by showcasing the intersection of marketing, investments, and artistic expression. What audiences see, Hysell explains, is typically a culmination of seven years of writing, table reads, auditions, design work, rehearsals, workshopping, and waiting for an available theater. Students later take this knowledge — plus their dancing and singing skills — to Broadway where they see performances of & Juliet and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The craft of curation
Walking through the cobblestone streets of Chelsea, students zip their jackets another inch as a gust of wind travels down West 14th Street. New York’s lunch crowd is picking up as people walk by with take-out orders or eagerly head in the direction of Chelsea Market. Surrounded by a mixture of industrial brick buildings and contemporary commercial structures, students step into history when they arrive at Gary Suson’s Ground Zero Museum Workshop. As the official photographer at Ground Zero for the New York City Fire Department, Suson spent nine months photographing the aftermath of 9/11. He later curated a museum featuring 100 images and artifacts, including windowpane fragments, a portion of one of the two planes, and a clock that’s frozen in time at 10:02:14.
“There is so much history there,” says Business Management major Ameerah HuieWhite ’27. “Learning about the symbolism behind 9/11 and talking with someone who experienced the event on a personal level is so interesting.”
Students later enter the world of abstract art, experimental art, and sculpture during a gallery tour through SoHo and TriBeCa. Stepping into the studio — and home — of Peter Reginato, the abstract sculptor and painter shares his creative process with undergrads. Pointing to a 10-foot painting made up of vibrant yellows, blues, and purples, Reginato explains that he often looks at how the edges of colors meet and asks himself if their convergence is convincing. Sharing his story of growing up in California, attending the San Francisco Art Institute, and relocating to New York, students ask about his collections and exhibitions while their eyes trace the meandering lines of his paintings.
A visit to the city isn’t complete without hearing from alumni who built careers in the Big Apple. Graduates — Amy Feldman Kulkin ’07, partner at Finn Partners; Patrick Walcek ’09, director of event suites sales and strategy at Madison Square Garden; Max Machado ’14, founder of Quiet Hours Studio; and Allie Miller ’17, ’19 MBA, senior copywriter at Thirty Madison — discussed their career path, co-curricular involvements that contributed to their success, and the types of skills they look for when hiring. Following the hour-long discussion, students spend the remaining evening networking with panelists and other alumni.
“Just from that event, I connected with a graduate who’s in the field I’m looking for, and they’ve already reached out to me on LinkedIn,” says Ezekiel Kransdorf ’25, a Communication major who aspires to be a sports broadcaster.
In another alumni event, students meet Melissa Little ’07, director of operations for creative services and photo for World Wrestling Entertainment, who leads a behind-the-scenes tour of the Stamford-based headquarters. Bulldogs also receive career advice from her colleagues in human resources and team and project management.
“They were extremely helpful and raw in showing up with their experiences, which is nice to hear,” says Nilsa Laine ’23.
Leaving behind the digital billboards of Times Square and skyscrapers that reach for the clouds, undergrads hop on Bryant’s coach bus for their last tour of the trip: The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. Along the drive out of Manhattan, Alyssa Alviti ’25 leans back in her seat and reflects on how the trip will impact her life moving forward.
“It’s made me think a lot more about arts and administration and how there may be a role for me even though I'm not an artist,” says Alviti, a Team and Project Management major who decided to attend Arts in the City after Bryant’s “Studies in Drama” course renewed her love for the arts.
At the museum, students listen to a tour guide discuss the transition from still to moving images, soundtrack creation, and production design. With time to explore on their own, Aznii Martin ’24 and Sokhna Ndoye ’25 pause at an interactive station to practice their stop motion animation skills. Together, they select a paper cut-out of an umbrella and gradually move it across the screen while pressing ‘record’ between each movement. Once 12 frames are filled, they hit ‘play’ and watch the umbrella dance across the screen for one second. It may be the group’s last day in the city, but their exploration of the arts has only just begun.