Woman dancing in a white dress as it twirls around her body.

ASU Dance presents a season focused on creativity and collaboration

By

Lacy Chaffee

The School of Music, Dance and Theatre’s dance program announces a return to live performances with the 2021-22 season. In selecting this season, faculty members focused on taking innovative approaches, presenting unique collaborations and providing opportunities for underrepresented artists. 

“We are actively working on building more equity in dance,” said Keith Thompson, associate professor and assistant director of dance in Arizona State University’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “Dance is shifting, and ASU is leading the way.”

In “Emerging Artists I,” Kathy Luo will present her MFA dance project, “Out of the Blue.” Luo uses a unique approach to contemporary dance-making. She frequently uses collaborations with musicians to create compositions that fit the theme and mood of her movement. She credits the combination of her undergraduate training in China and her graduate education at ASU for her fluid, creative style. In “Emerging Artist,” Luo worked with ASU student pianist and composer Nicholas Turner. Six dancers and three musicians are part of the dance project, which gives audiences a close-up view of the work and allows them to participate in the experience more intimately than in traditional concert dance. 

Mary Fitzgerald, professor and artistic director of dance, said this creativity is a hallmark of students in the school.

“Our students are really remarkable,” she said. “They have a lot of beautiful ideas and insights to share as performers and creators.”

Students in all three areas will work together this fall to present the collaborative, multidisciplinary work “Healing Wars” by Herberger Institute Professor Liz Lerman. The production, which will be directed by Thompson, uses words, movement and music to tell the story of hurt and healing of war. 

“This was a way to bring us all together,” Fitzgerald said. “A lot of collaborations have been happening across the three areas for years.”

One way ASU dance has been collaborating with and involving the community is through the “Sol Series” community events. The School of Music, Dance and Theatre is thrilled to bring back the “Sol Power” festival in November. This three-day event is held on the Galvin Plaza and showcases Arizona’s hip-hop culture, including DJs, emcees, graffiti artists and dancers. Part of this year’s festival will be the dedication of Nelson Fine Arts Center Room 28 to honor Marcus White, assistant professor of dance at ASU and an artist committed to the Black radical tradition, who died unexpectedly in May 2020. In the spring, the series will continue with “Latin Sol,” a celebration of Latin dancing and culture. 

ASU dance emphasizes art-making and creativity in every aspect of the program. SpringDanceFest is a carefully curated program where audiences can experience outstanding faculty and student work, including premieres by guest artists. Students also have opportunities throughout the year to showcase their work at “Transitions,” undergraduate and graduate project presentations and informals. 

“Our curriculum is both expansive and inclusive at the graduate and undergraduate level,” said Karen Schupp, associate professor and assistant director of dance. “Our program is focused more on devising than slipping into a role.”

2021-22 dance season

“Emerging Artists I”
By Kathy Luo, MFA student          
7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 and 30
2 p.m. Oct. 31
Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre 

“Healing Wars”
By Liz Lerman
Directed by Keith Thompson
Co-production with music, dance and theatre  
7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 6, 12 and 13
2 p.m. Nov. 7 and 14
Galvin Playhouse Theatre 

“Sol Power”
Nov. 18-20
Galvin Plaza 

Undergraduate project presentations
7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19
Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio Theatre

Informals
10:45 a.m. Dec. 3 and April 29
Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre 

“Transitions Projects I”
7:30 p.m. Feb. 4
2 p.m. Feb. 5
Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio Theatre 

“Transitions Projects II”
7:30 p.m. Feb. 5
2 p.m. Feb. 6
Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio Theatre 

Graduate project presentations
7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 and 25
Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio Theatre

“Latin Sol” 
April 8-10
Bulldog Hall; Student Pavilion 

“SpringDanceFest”
7:30 p.m. April 22 and 23
2 p.m. April 24
Galvin Playhouse Theatre

Tickets are available online three weeks in advance through the Herberger Institute box office. Ticket prices and venues vary. All ticket sales are online only. There will be no in-person sales at the events. Please purchase tickets in advance; guests who do not have a ticket at the door will be directed to purchase them online.

All attendees at performances are required to adhere to ASU policies, which are consistent with CDC guidelines for colleges and universities. Face coverings are required in School of Music, Dance and Theatre indoor performance spaces. University COVID-19 information can be found at coronavirus.asu.edu