Dibden Director Jan Herder began his career in technical theater in 1977 as a work study student at Connecticut College, which was then home to the American Dance Festival. Jan worked as a sound engineer and electrician, going to Newport and finally Durham, North Carolina when the festival moved to Duke University in 1978. He worked there for a number of summers as master carpenter and electrician. He continued to freelance as a lighting designer and production manager in dance for companies such as Merce Cunningham, Twlyla Tharp, Alwin Nikoli, Pilobolus, Kai Takei, and Senta Driver and Mark Morris. His travels took him to work with many local dance companies around the country including the Spoleto Festival, Charleston, South Carolina, and numerous theaters in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington. He also designed and toured with Andrea Olsen of the Middlebury Dance Company in 1985.
Concurrently Jan worked for 6 years at Long Wharf Repertory Theater Company in New Haven, Connecticut, as well as being house electrician for the Educational Center for the Arts and as master electrician for Stage Two at Long Wharf. Jan also built scenery for Off Broadway shows at a scene shop in New Haven, and designed and installed many productions.
During a brief foray into Hollywood in 1979, Jan was an electrician for a major concert production company working with Alice Cooper, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart, and Ted Nugent.
In 1983 Jan returned to Vermont where he founded his own production company and founded and chartered Local 919, Burlington, Vt. of the International Alliance for Stage Hands and Theatrical Stage Employees, AFL-CIO. The union provides a skilled labor force for the expanding creative economy in Northern New England and performance venues such as the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, the Flynn and Memorial Auditorium, Lake Placid and Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Additionally, Jan was Technical Director and Resident Designer for the Vermont Repertory Theater Company and Production Manager for Catamount Arts. Jan’s movie work includes gaffer, grip and carpenter for Sweet Hearts Dance, filmed in Hyde Park, and Funny Farm with Chevy Chase in Townshend, Vt.
Jan began working as director of the Dibden Center for the Arts in 1988. He contributed many innovations to Dibden, including updating the rigging and electrical systems, the audience level dance floor and updating the computer systems for lighting and sound and multi media. Dibden was one of the first colleges of its size in the country to utilize the lighting program WYSIWYG from Cast Software, a state-of-the-art design and production control package.
Jan established many community partnerships that have endured and form the foundation for the performing arts in the Lamoille valley, including the Vermont Youth Orchestra, numerous local dance companies, River Arts, Lamoille High School’s Lancer Dancers, and bringing the Vermont Symphony Orchesta to the Vermont State Colleges system. The expertise provided by the students in the technical theater program made it possible to present such major artists as Chick Corea, Ani Difanco, Al Dimeola, The Roots, George Clinton, Pat Metheny, Leon Redbone, Lucinda Williams, Bela Fleck and Arlo Guthrie.
In 2000 Jan created and founded the Associate of Arts in Technical Theater degree program to practice and explore 21st century learning skills and literacies, creating a transformed learning community. This two-year program uses Web 2.0, blended and peer-to-peer learning techniques, along with reciprocal apprenticeships, to immerse and engage students. The result is a 100% student-operated performing arts center which develops leaders and empowers students to succeed in the new century.