UMO finds their voice through theatre
By Marina-Rae Gill, Reporter
In 1989, the UMO ensemble was established as one of the country’s first physical theatre ensembles. Created as a way for people to express themselves from the perspective of their bodies, UMO has evolved from a small organization, to a community hearth which encompasses a performing arts school for young artists.
Elizabeth Klob, who runs the UMO school, has been a part of the ensemble for nearly 21 years.
“Physical theatre was sort of a revolutionary way of looking at things,” Klob said. “Now, there’s circus, there’s dance, there’s all kinds of different ways that you can express physical theatre … [and] we were sort of the pioneers. We have a very specific mission statement, … mostly about reflecting what’s going on in culture, through live performance, and letting the body … fill the world and create the story.”
As an instructor, Klob wants her students to walk away not only with the skills of a performer, but also the feeling of self confidence. When kids approach Klob looking for an opportunity to pursue physical theatre, she finds a teacher or looks for a way for them to participate.
“I work to explore what [students] are looking to do, It’s all about them developing their own artistic voice,” she said. “If I’ve even gotten them to recognize that they have an artistic voice, that’s great.”
UMO currently hosts many unique programs available for all ages, including parkour, aerial, and circus gymnastics. Klob explained that these programs might look different in the future, as they are always changing in order to fit students’ appeal. This method has allowed UMO to create a very supportive community for all learners.
“The coaches are really good about telling you what you’re good at and what you need to work on,” sophomore Emma Deines said. “My coach will tell me that I need to work on strength, so I do pushups at home. … It’s kind of more [about] how much you are willing to work for it, [and] if you want to get better at something.”
Freshmen Allene Rodriguez-Miller described her experiences when facing challenges that come with the sport.
“You just have to push yourself, so it can be tiring, and it can make [you] super sore … but it’s totally worth it,” she said.
Deines emphasized the importance of persistence while participating in physical theatre.
“Some days you have good days, and some days you have bad days, and if you’re having a bad day it doesn’t mean that you’re never going get that skill,” Deines said. “I learned that you need to just try it again.”