By Marci Creps, The Herald Times
After 30 years of teaching at Indiana University, George Pinney is ready for something new.
His first job at IU was doing choreography for a production of “The Boyfriend.” In 2001, he was nominated for a Tony Award and a National Broadway Theatre Award in choreography. And he’s won an Emmy for outstanding choreography for the PBS broadcast of “Blast.” And with such an impressive resume, he admits he loves to teach.
“It’s my first passion,” he said.
But since the age of 5, Pinney has been on one side of the desk or the other — first as a student and then as a teacher. “And it’s time for me to graduate,” he said.
Graduation is something Pinney is familiar with as he’s had to say goodbye to many students as they’ve moved from student to professional.
Over his years of teaching, Pinney has seen a lot of changes, too.
“The bar keeps rising every year,” he said, adding that students come to IU with much more experience and training. They’re also looking at theater as a profession.
“The talent level, too, has also been going up every year,” he said.
Pinney has also been thrilled to see the students succeed.
For the theater faculty, it is important that everyone continue to stay active in their profession. Pinney said that was something that was emphasized that the faculty would be working and staying current in their field.
The advent of social media has most definitely changed how students can be judged in a very different light. In recent years, students have learned that having a high presence on social media can make a difference to a theater production looking to reach younger audiences. In other words, those who have lots of followers and use social media often may be chosen over an equally talented actor with less of a social media presence.
Staying active in their careers means the faculty can more easily help students as they know what they will experience through their own professional career.
“Things change. Attitudes change. Expectations change,” Pinney said. “A faculty member needs to be a part of that.”
Pinney may be leaving but he’s quite confident that the remaining staff will continue to provide a high-quality education for the students. Ken Roberson, Ray Fellman, Liz Gennaro and Terry LaBolt are just a few of the incredible staff members that Pinney pointed out as actively working in their field and creating great opportunities for their students.
“They’re incredible,” he said.
As for what’s next, Pinney will move after he finishes in May. He and his husband Scott Jones are making plans to move. Then, Pinney will be ready to try something new.
“I truly want to reinvent myself,” he said.
He’s had some ideas of what he might do including writing a book about his method of teaching.
And while he looks forward to the future, Pinney knows he’ll miss a lot about teaching.
“The big thing I will miss will be walking into the classroom with highly motivated, talented students,” he said.
Arts editor Marci Creps can be reached at 812-331-4375 or firstname.lastname@example.org.