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Building a community within a classroom

Dance artist Marcus White to cultivate connections, diversity in the classroom as new ASU dance professor


Marcus White
|
June 09, 2016

Dance artist, creative producer and teacher Marcus White, who will join the faculty of ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts this fall, says he cultivates community and diversity in his classroom, and he plans to bring those values to ASU.

“I’m super excited to join ASU this fall,” said White. “Arizona State certainly has positioned itself as a leader in the nation. In particular, as someone who works in an interdisciplinary way, I was drawn to the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the Herberger Institute.”

White is the founder and creative director of Marcus White/White Werx, a performance production company that spans various genres and dance styles. As director, he has created work for both stage and screen. His teaching practice draws on postmodern contemporary dance and urban styles, specifically waackingWaacking consists of moving the arms — typically over and behind the shoulder — to the music beat. It also involves posing and footwork., vogue and house. Additionally, White is a dance film creator and curator. In these roles, he has worked closely with presenters such as the Dance on Camera Festival at Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival’s Movies by Movers and the newly developed “Dance: American Art 1865–1960” exhibition, which celebrates dance in visual art developed at the Detroit Institute of Arts and is expected to tour throughout the United States.

“He brings deep connections into professional practice, is a master of both urban and modern forms and has a deep interest in working in communities,” said Stephani Etheridge Woodson, interim director of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. “He has a vibrant professional practice and copious curiosity. We are lucky to have lured him to Arizona.”

White says he considers his classrooms “communities of thinkers and movers” and the studio as a laboratory for ideas and practices, both for the students and himself. He also has a history of expanding that community to reach lower socio-economic communities. In North Carolina, he founded Paradigm Dance, where he developed relationships with Greensboro City Arts to implement an afterschool dance program in the city’s cultural centers within those communities. Later, he developed a program called Moving Voices in Michigan. The Moving Voices project uses dance as a tool to encourage youth to engage in social impact and as a way to empower participants to use movement to tell their own stories.

“Working specifically at the intersection of cultural theory, movement practice and digital media, I come with a unique lens to craft stories and narrative using dance and film,” White said.

White has an MFA from the University of Michigan. He has taught at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan and has also served as a guest artist at various prestigious pre-professional dance programs such as the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, Penn State University, University of Montana, Oakland University and the American College Dance Association.

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