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From business to breaking: Dance student combines passions to expand career path

ASU graduate student Lawrence Fung.

May 01, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Graduate student Lawrence Fung came to ASU from Hong Kong, China, to study at the W. P. Carey School of Business and then stayed to pursue his passion for dance at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. 

While a student at W. P. Carey, he picked up breaking, a dance form within hip-hop culture. After receiving his Bachelor of Science in finance and supply chain, he made the decision to switch his professional path — determined to make a career out of dance. 

He chose to pursue a master’s degree in dance. And he soon discovered he could marry his previous business studies with his creative expression. 

“For the longest time I was feeling unfulfilled working in the corporate world, and all I wanted to do was dance and travel the world,” said Fung. “With my business background, I could start a dance company and tour concert shows around the world, but I needed formal training and a bigger perspective regarding opportunities and possibilities in the arts field. As I got better and more creative at my craft, that was when I realized that I had to go back to school to learn more.”

Fung is now set to graduate this month with a Master of Fine Arts in dance from the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. 

He answered a few questions about his process and continued journey below.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: Although I majored in dance, I accidentally picked up filming during the first semester of my creative approach class, and I became interested in viewing dance in new perspectives and various mediums through the principles of film. I dived fully into film and have been shooting nonstop with my colleagues either just for fun or for festival submissions, and through practice and trial and error, several of my short dance films have gotten into film festivals around the world and won numerous awards. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of its comprehensive dance program that includes an urban track and the program's emphasis on creativity. Unlike other dance programs in the nation that only have an appreciation for the classic forms such as ballet, modern and contemporary, ASU's dance program fosters the collaboration between various genres of dance styles. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Eileen Standley is my creative professor and also a supporting member in my graduate committee. She has always been above and beyond to enlighten me with what has been done and possible in the art and dance world. She was the one who made me understand that dance is not a separation but a part of the umbrella of contemporary art. With the abundance of dance styles and trendy competitions, it is easy to forget about the big picture of why we dance, which is self-expression and happiness. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? 

A: Understand the power of saying "no” in order to give yourself the time and energy to explore your own interests, curiosity and potential. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The giant stairs above the ASU Art Museum is the perfect place to have a picnic, short meditation, and (it's an) eye-catching place for a photoshoot.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Move to Los Angeles and build the infrastructure of my dance and art company, Kraken Still & Film. There I will be focusing on creating evening-length concert work, screen dance and photographic exhibits. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? 

A: Unionize freelance dancers and dance educators and equalize their pay and compensation among other artists. If you look at any musicians, writers, actors/actresses, dancers are at the very bottom of the totem pole and are significantly underpaid, and they lack social benefits such as health care and retirement support.

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