PSOA students earn three competitive Distinguished Graduate School Fellowships

Three Peck School of the Arts students were selected for Distinguished Graduate School Fellowships for the 2024-25 academic year. The fellowships are awarded through one of the most competitive selection processes at the graduate level. 

The PSOA Department of Dance, Department of Music, and Department of Film, Video, Animation & New Genres each had one student selected to receive the support, which covers graduate tuition and provides an academic year stipend. Recipients are also eligible for health insurance through the Universities of Wisconsin and a travel award.  

Ari Christopher 

Ari Christopher is the founding Director of Tulsa Modern Movement. She makes dances for the stage, film, and public spaces and teaches Contemporary dance at the Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education and K-12 art infusion teacher workshops.  

Ari was engaged in all arts disciplines from theatre to jazz violin until she found her place in the Modern Dance studio. She attended the BFA program in Modern Dance and Choreography at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. Her favorite dance practices are Humphrey/Limón technique, CounterTechnique and Contact Improvisation.   

Ari’s work generally centers around questions of identity and belonging – asking questions about race, gender, and privilege in the United State – and themes related to our humanness and connection to one another and the earth. Her choreography has been commissioned by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Tulsa Ballet CDE, ahha Tulsa, the Greenwood Art Project, among others; and has been honored by regional and international festival awards.   

Her film “This Car UP” (2021), a commission for the Greenwood Art Project with funding from the Bloomberg Foundation, has been screened at film festivals around the country. The dance film explores the alleged interaction between a white woman and a Black man which became the catalyzing event of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Reflecting on the power of perception in constructing beliefs, “This Car Up” calls attention to the political meanings entangled in our perceptions. “This Car Up” was shown at American Dance Festival in 2022, won a Screen Dance International award and was featured by Dance Magazine.  

Ari’s creative research investigates the body’s significance in personal identity and its complex interplay with societal narratives. She is currently pursuing an MFA in dance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee under the advisement of Daniel Burkholder and Maria Gillespie.

Tristen Ives 

Tristen Ives (they/them) is a filmmaker from Iowa who works in diaristic and experimental modes. Their 16mm films are dedicated to camera-less techniques and the handmade form. They are an MFA student in the Film, Video, Animation & New Genres Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. They received their BA in Cinema from the University of Iowa in 2019. 

Their films have screened globally at Exploding Cinema at the Cineam Museum in London, the Saigon Experimental Film Festival, Winnipeg Underground Film Festival, CURRENTS New Media, Montreal Underground Film Festival, Light Matter Film Festival, ICDOCS, Film Diary NYC, and more. Alongside their screening history, an article documenting their work and artistic practice was published in Analog Cookbook in 2022. 

Tristen has worked as the Head Projectionist at Block Cinema in Evanston, Illinois, as an Assistant Head Projectionist at FilmScene Cinema, and as a projectionist at SIFF and Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, Washington. They are currently the Head Projectionist at the Union Cinema in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  

Their graduate advisor is Mike Gibisser. 

Colton Townsend 

Colton Townsend is a composer, performer, and educator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Colton’s compositions and arrangements have been premiered by the UW-Milwaukee Percussion Ensemble, UW-Milwaukee New Music Ensemble, University of Arkansas Wind Ensemble, University of Arkansas Percussion Ensemble, Bentonville High School Jazz Ensemble, and Fayetteville High School Percussion Ensemble.   

Colton’s performing experience includes multiple years of Winter Guard International and Drum Corps International experience at both the Open and World Class levels, over a dozen premiers of new percussion compositions, and a guest solo appearance with the University of Arkansas Latin American Ensemble. His teaching experience includes a Teaching Assistantship at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Bentonville High School, Fayetteville High School, and Cooper Elementary School. This past summer, he participated and had works performed and premiered in festivals and conferences such as New Music on the Point and Vu Symposium. This upcoming summer, he will be participating in the Du Vert À l’Infini PluComp Summer Festival and the SPLICE Summer Institute. He enjoys exploring all the different facets of music and strives to create fun and entertaining experiences for the artists, audiences, and students he interacts with. 

Colton is pursuing a Master’s in Music with a dual concentration in Composition and Theory and Percussion Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he studies with Dr. Phillip Sink, Nathaniel Haering, and Dr. Alex Wier. He received a Bachelor’s in Music in Music Education from the University of Arkansas, located in his hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he studied with Chalon Ragsdale and Fernando Valencia.