Educators who teach in the creative arts need to do professional work once in a while to maintain their skills.
An English teacher can write a book in his office. Painters can create art in their studio. But educators who teach performing arts sometimes need to travel to find performance opportunities.
Such is the case with Jodi Frisbie-Reese, associate professor of vocal music at Dodge City Community College.
Thanks to connections with other professionals in the opera and musical theater worlds, Frisbie-Reese was offered a part in the upcoming production of "The Mikado" at Opera Omaha. Frisbie-Reese will be playing the role of Peep-Bo in the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera.
"The administration was very supportive and it's been interesting to work out the details, but I'm on my way," Frisbie-Reese said in an interview Tuesday.
Frisbie-Reese left Wednesday for Omaha and will be there through April 15, when the show closes.
Meanwhile, classes and lessons in the vocal music department at DC3 will continue, with a few adjustments.
"I have great colleagues who will take over some of the classes," Frisbie-Reese said, "and we're going to use Skype for most of the classes and lessons. My face will be looming up on the large screen, and I'll be able to watch and listen, then make comments."
During her stay in Omaha, Frisbie-Reese has arranged to meet her students halfway for a choir exchange at Bethany College in Lindsborg. Frisbie-Reese taught at the college before coming to Dodge City and was happy to be able to set up the experience for her DC3 students.
Back on stage
"The Mikado" marks Frisbie-Reese's third appearance with Opera Omaha.
Her first show with the company was "Cold Sassy Tree," an opera by Carlisle Floyd based on the 1984 novel by Olive Ann Burns.
"I had done the part elsewhere," Frisbie-Reese said, "and they wanted someone who was familiar with the piece."
She next appeared in Omaha in "Aida," the Elton John/Tim Rice musical based on the Verdi opera.
As with most professional companies, the Opera Omaha rehearsal schedule is short but intense.
"I think we'll have rehearsals from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 10 p.m.," Frisbie-Reese said.
Frisbie-Reese's hometown, Lake View, Iowa, is close by, so she'll be staying with family and seeing old friends.
Meanwhile, back at DC3, her students will be part of a unique experiment.
"They know what I expect of them while I'm gone," Frisbie-Reese said. "It will be tough on them, but they'll learn something too."
Frisbie-Reese hopes her students come to understand what a performance commitment like this one means in terms of preparation and energy.
Page 2 of 2 - "I've blocked out time in my schedule this semester for my own practice. I hope the students see that I'm doing what I teach, that I know what I'm teaching because I do it," she said. "And it's good for them to see that I'm still learning."
She also knows that the experience will be valuable to her personally.
"As an educator, and as a performer, this kind of experience fulfills that need in our souls to nurture ourselves with music," she said.