Grand Hotel Arts Weekend Presenter Alison Dobbins

Today’s guest blogger is  Alison Dobbins, Associate Professor of Integrated
Media Performance Design at the
Michigan State University Department of Theatre.

Alison will be the Saturday presenter for an afternoon workshop and evening performance for the 24th Annual Arts Weekend. 

Alison Dobbins, Associate Professor of Integrated Performance Media Design, is at the forefront of a new frontier in theatre – one that integrates digital media, lighting, and theatrical production to provide magical effects for the stage. 


Initiation to Dance

Computer, television, tablet and phone – we are surrounded by small screens that keep us connected to the world but make it hard to connect with each other. Elementary students
in school learn on a tablet. The President of the United States addresses the nation daily
in 144 characters or less on twitter. Dating, bullying, news, editorials, friendships,
debate, politics, protest have all moved online.

What better place to step back in time than at Mackinac Island. The speed of travel is measured by horse and the hours in the day by how much fudge you can consume.
Have you ever performed in a play, a concert, a dance? The exhilaration, the butterfly
jitters, the tension between the potential for success and failure is exquisite or torture.
But there is also an energy and a connection with all the other performers that is
impossible to replicate outside of that performance space. My work as an artist
focuses on the advantages and possibilities of the small screen as a tool and access point to
transition an individual from audience to performer. The anonymity provided
in online communication creates a space for those who would not feel comfortable
voicing their opinion or performing their talent in front of 100 people live,
but may feel free to do so in front of 1,000 people online.
Through my performance piece Dance Engine, I move the audience from individual
small-screen performances to a single collective dance party.

For the past five years I have developed
Dance Engine through short residencies at St.Olaf College, Brigham Young
University, and Michigan State University. This work has also been performed
in Grand Rapids,MI ArtPrize 2015 and 2017, and at the Edinburgh Fringe
Festival 2015 and will be performed at the Dance and the Child International
conference in Adelaide Australia in July 2018. Dance Engine explores
the synthesis of dance, technology, interactive theatre, and play.
The performance format and electronic elements elicit choreography,
improvisation, and personal interaction from participants.

The Dance Engine mobile application facilitates a game between audience and
performers. The initial low- risk involvement provided through anonymous input from
the app invites audience members of all ages and abilities to participate. A stepwise
elevation of participation creates performer-to- performer, performer-to- audience, and
audience-to- audience exchanges and relationships. Through technology and play,
audience members transform from observer to participant to performing dance artist.
By integrating audience members as performers,
Dance Engine investigates accessibility and dance literacy
possibilities across multiple demographics: the young, the aging,
trained dancers,and the general population inclusive
of mixed abilities.


Join us for Alison’s afternoon workshop as a feature of the 24th Annual Arts Weekend presented by the Michigan State University College of Arts & Letters.

Take on Grand Hotel

 Take on Grand Hotel 

Grand Hotel

Thank you to guest blogger, Jamie Michelson of SMZ Advertising for this “Take on Grand Hotel.”

Sure Grand Hotel fans know music is an important part of our experience. You first think of the standards. Then jazz, classical and the blues. But take a trip back with me to 1986 and let the catchy, pop tune of a-ha’s “Take on Me” get stuck in your head.

Take on me, (take on me)
Take me on, (take on me)

From your home, office or in between take a look at a number of new video segments that provide a unique take on Grand Hotel. Get a first look at their newest suites with Grand Hotel President, Dan Musser, III. Learn a treasure of their past from historian, Bob Tagatz. Drop down into their wine cellars with Elizabeth Schweitzer, the 8th woman in the world to be named Master Sommelier. Take a stroll down the Front Porch with Ken Hayward, Managing Director of the hotel. Then be charmed by Main Dining room head waiter, Glen Bulgin. It is these few things that always remind me of what a great experience the hotel provides every year and memories we keep making. 

Interview with Grand Hotel President, Dan Musser, III.


Interview with Hotel Historian, Bob Tagatz


Walk through the Prentiss M. Brown and Lilac Suites with Dan Musser, III.


A stroll down the Front Porch with Ken Hayward.


Grand Hotel’s Wine Cellar with Master Sommelier, Elizabeth Schweitzer


Interview with First Waiter Glen Bulgin


Thank you to Sarah Grimmer, Stephanie Adkins and the entire 9 & 10 News team for taking us on this journey around Grand Hotel. See you this summer!

Take on me, (take on me)
Take me on, (take on me)

Take on Me- Aha.

Jamie Michelson
SMZ Advertising

2018 Open the Grand by Dan Musser, III

 Today marks the official opening of our 132nd season.  Today, myself along with my sister Mimi Cunningham are the third generation to operate the hotel. This will be our family’s 86th year welcoming guests and it is an honor to do so. 

Grand Hotel

Every year we have an early opening for guests to enjoy Grand Hotel before we officially open for the season. This year the Midwest Handbell Musicians of America visited, this is a bi-annual musical organization who sure can make a melody of sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard. This is one of my favorite early season groups to listen and watch.

Grand Hotel Theatre
The Handbell Musicians of America performing in the Theatre.
A few of the first guests of the season!

As a family owned hotel we take great pride and ownership in the details and are excited this year to bring more of our family heritage to the hotel in a new way. Over the week, the final touches have been made to the newly renovated Prentiss M. Brown and Lilac suites on the third floor looking out to the Tea Garden and Straits of Mackinac. The Dorothy Draper & Co. design team made a special trip to Mackinac Island last week to bring the final design plans to fruition.
Brinsley Matthews of Dorothy Draper Company brings the Lilac Suite to life.

After the custom carpet was installed they began the task of placing all the furniture selected for each suite. No detail was too small. From lilac themed lighting fixtures to draperies and throw pillows, every item is unique to the each suite’s theme.

The Prentiss M. Brown Suite which was designed in honor of former U.S. Senator Prentiss M. Brown. This themed room features the desk the Michigan Senator actually used during his time in office. Senator Brown is also the grandfather of my wife, Marlee Brown and considered the “father” of the Mackinac Bridge. Senator Brown and my Uncle Stewart Woodfill who was the first member of my family to own the hotel worked on the Mackinac Bridge together. The bibliotheque wall paper is lined with historic photos highlighting the life and achievements of Senator Brown.
Prentiss M. Brown Suite
Portrait of Prentiss M. Brown featured in the entry way.
The desk the Senator worked at.
Prentiss M. Brown’s signature embroidered in the entryway carpet.

The Lilac Suite just next door is as bright and beautiful as an early summer morning on Mackinac. Celebrating the lilacs in full blossom the room features a mural of lilacs and provides the perfect backdrop. The view of the Lilac Suite overlooks the Tea Garden which will soon be in bloom with this fragrant flower. Lilacs come in a wide variety of tones and this suite features each one, from the fuchsia carpet to the periwinkle furniture. Upon the walls are the colorful paintings of my wife and artist, Marlee Brown.

Lilac Suite
Lilac Suite

Lilac Suite

Lilac Suite

Lilac Suite

As you walk the hallways and Art Gallery notice the brand new trellis wallpaper. This is another touch of Carleton Varney.

Art Gallery
The new trellis wallpaper can be seen in the hallways and Art Gallery.

We continue to collaborate with many of our valuable partners every year including our friends at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan with the Live Healthy Live Grand partnership. You will see many new Live Healthy Live Grand menu items at all of our restaurants. You will also find planners in every guest room with new ideas for wellness around Mackinac Island and recipes from our Executive Chef Hans Burtscher. Activity cards for all of our young guests will be available so they can check off fun things they did around the hotel and Mackinac to earn a free scoop of ice cream at Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor.

We have exciting news coming early next week of another partnership with a Michigan company we have been working with for over 30 years. You will be able to bring a piece of Grand Hotel into your home! This is something our staff has been working on with Mimi, my sister over the winter and we are excited to announce it very soon.

Grand Hotel
Convention, Marketing, and Sales Staff
Grand Hotel
Front Desk Staff with V.P of Accommodations, Jerry Toney

We are looking forward to another great season and wonderful memories ahead. On behalf of my family and over 700 employees, we look forward to welcoming you to Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island this season.

Most sincerely,




Dan Musser, III