Senior Spotlight: Hannah Mahr Posted on April 22nd, 2020 by

The “Senior Spotlight” series honors graduating fine arts majors for their contributions to the Gustavus community.

Hannah Mahr is a theatre honors major and dance, comparative literature, and English minor from Northfield, Minn. Following graduation Hannah plans to intern with a professional theatre company, take auditions, and devise original work. Associate Professor of Theatre Henry MacCarthy says that he is grateful to have worked with Hannah and witnessed Hannah’s growth over the last four years. “As an artist Hannah has demonstrated their commitment to an embodied research practice that is grounded in intellectual rigor, passion and experimentation,” he says. “They are driven and focused, as well as generous and humble, Hannah is the kind of collaborator everyone wants to have in the room.”

We asked Hannah to give us a little insight into their Gustavus experience and continuing theatre while living at home.

How are you continuing your theatre/dance education in your new surroundings?
HM: Like many of my peers, I am making art in new spaces with new materials. I’ve choreographed outside, in my living room, on a staircase, in my kitchen. When I walk around my neighborhood, the streets and paths that I’ve known for years look new to me. I see a bench, a bridge, or a bush, and I think, “this would be a good place for a dance or a monologue.” It’s exciting to see the world in this new way.

Can you tell us a story about what it’s been like to continue your work while off campus?
HM: A few weeks ago, I filmed a dance composition study outside. It was a beautiful day. Things were going smoothly until I stepped in a pile of dog poop. At first, I was pretty annoyed. But then I took a deep breath, scraped my shoe with a stick, and got back to work. Even though things can be crappy sometimes (pun intended), you have to keep making your art!

What’s a favorite memory you have from your time in theatre/dance here?
HM: I still remember when Sue brought in chocolate cupcakes for all of her ballet students. She wanted to prove her hypothesis that eating chocolate improves a dancer’s footwork. We took before and after photos, and sure enough, our tendus looked much better post-cupcake! I have lots of favorite memories from my time with the theatre and dance department, but I think this one might be the yummiest.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to high school students considering Gustavus?
HM: Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. If you’re interested in something that you don’t see in the curricula, ask about it! You can carve out a path for yourself here.

What professor has made the biggest impact on you and why?
HM: Henry MacCarthy has made the biggest impact on my life. During my sophomore year, he introduced me to physical theatre, which has since become my artistic passion. Henry has pushed me to ask the deep, difficult questions about creative work. He has helped me discover and amplify my unique artistic voice. He has expanded my aesthetic horizons, exposing me to cutting edge work that has challenged my notions of what art can be. He has always had my back. And, to top it all off, he’s given me some great vegetarian food recommendations!

What do you look forward to most about life after Gustavus?
HM: I’m really looking forward to starting some new collaborations. I’ve loved working with my fellow Gustavus artists for the last four years, but it will be exciting to create with other people who can offer fresh perspectives and ideas!


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