New Faculty Hire Q&A: Raquel Barreto, Associate Professor, Theater & Dance

Thursday, September 3, 2020
 

Tell us about the classes you’ll be teaching this year.

Raquel Barreto, Associate Professor, Theater & Dance

 

Raquel Barreto, Associate Professor, Theater & Dance

 

I will be teaching Costume Design to the graduate students, and we will focus on visual interpretations of myths, character development, and explore alternative ways in which the costume designer is a part the narrative process. I also co-teach Studio I, where first-year MFA students in all areas of Live Design, as well as those in Directing and Theatre & Drama for Young Communities, tackle collaboration. It’s an important space for incoming artists to think deeply about the visual language of performances, and how to be open to real exchange with your peers. There’s also Thesis, one of my favorite aspects of the MFA program in Live Performance, a class that takes students through the development of an original research project that culminates in a paper and performative component. And I’m also advising all the students who design shows in the Theatre and Dance Season—it’s a thrilling time to be a part of re-imagining how to present live performances in the era of COVID-19. I’m already blown away by how the design teams are stretching the boundaries of what’s possible, and I hope the UT community tunes in for lots of exciting shows this Fall. 

What attracted you to Department of Theatre and Dance and The University of Texas at Austin?

I’ve long admired the Department and its faculty and alumni, with whom I’ve interacted professionally on projects across the country. Every Spring, graduating designers from the top MFA programs in the US exhibit their work at showcases in LA and NYC, and I’m invariably drawn to the work that comes out of UT: it’s never cookie-cutter, and I see the kind of nurturing of individual growth that makes for strong artists. I also see a commitment to producing material that showcases diverse voices and issues, and a willingness to connect to the world and community around. I’m so fortunate that the Department is so robust in the areas of Drama and Drama for Young Communities, which are very central to the way I’ve shaped my professional practice. 

I understand your focus is on costume design. Can you tell us more about how your professional pathway led to this focus?

I’m from Brazil and the role public performances play in ours lives cannot be underestimated—Carnaval being one of many rich festivals of music and dance around which society comes together throughout the year. By the time I got to UC Berkeley as an undergraduate student, I was interested in looking at visual traditions across the world, as well as in Art History, drawing, fashion, literature… all of which seemed to convey into a degree in Dramatic Art. From there I got an MFA in Costume Design from UC San Diego, where I got some great mentorship and developed my voice as a collaborator. And I’ve been teaching ever since I was in graduate school (the past 12 years at UCLA), so I feel my professional practice and teaching are intrinsically connected.

What’s something that students and colleagues should know about you?

I hope my colleagues and students can sense my excitement and not pay too much attention when I knock over my coffee cup during a Zoom session! I speak with my hands, especially when I’m teaching, and I can’t seem to change that in Zoom format. 

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not teaching/researching/working?

My yoga practice and swimming have helped to stay me sane throughout quarantine. A good weekend might include a hike, a trip to an art museum, or seeing a performance of some kind. But I spend a lot of time in rehearsals and on the road when I’m working on shows, so cooking dinner at home with my family is the ultimate treat. 

 
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