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Virtual dance showcase features original work by ASU students


dancer with an apple on their head

Dancer Ajai Johnson.

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March 10, 2021

Early in February, small live events with the School of Music, Dance and Theatre’s Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates in dance took place at Arizona State University’s Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre and included performances of original work created by the students, artist discussions and art installations. Recordings from the two days of events will stream March 12 at 7:30 p.m. 

With the help from ASU faculty Carley Conder and Carolyn Koch, senior dance students had the opportunity to create and produce their own work for the production, “Transitions: Mouthful of Marbles,” which is the culmination of their undergraduate artistic experiences. The choreographers and performers aimed to show intimacy and personal investigation of identity through each movement in their pieces, asking questions on truth, commenting on society and exploring human nature. The Transitions Projects showcase is an annual event, and this year, students also met the added challenge of creating their own personal work while maintaining social distancing with their performers and exploring how dance performance is changing.

Student Avery Polster’s work looks at the continuous and final nature of endings. A series of overlapping and tied solos will use imagery and depth to build desolate worlds. This piece explores the intimacy of loneliness, the “cracking” of an identity’s several layers and the role expectations have on judgement.

“Since freshman year I have anticipated my turn to produce my senior capstone,” Polster said, “and I am honored to be a part of a constantly evolving tradition called ‘Transitions.’”

Polster described the performance as “a diverse show displaying a wide range of artists maturing and finding their creative voices through the building of surreal worlds, intimate landscapes and extremity.”

At the virtual event, audiences will also experience a work by The Imposter, formerly known as Ella Alzua. The Imposter said the piece dives into the “past experiences of a colored girl who could pass for something” and is “a solo exploration of what it feels like to live your life thinking of yourself as an imposter who will be exposed at any second for what you truly are instead of what the world wanted of you.” The Imposter builds a utopia for their unwanted fan club only to go mad inside of it. 

“I am most excited to come out to the world as an artist,” The Imposter said. “This year, I can truly say I have found my artistic voice, and it’s nice to say this is only the beginning.”

Searching within prehistoric eras, “Decorative Hierarchy” by student Shannon Smith researches the dinosaur and how far society has come since then. 

“But have we changed that much? Within the world we create, every fourth day is a birthday, and the advancement of hierarchy doesn't seem to change. It's merely for decoration,” Smith said of the piece. 

“What’s so exciting about this project is that it has been a glimpse into my career,” she said. “After every rehearsal I can’t help but smile and think this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. I love it.” 

The production will also feature “True, False, and Floating Ribs” by Mira Hills. This solo work explores the Boolean order of operations that evaluates true or false to determine the response of true. The work reflects the overwhelming nature of determining the difference between true and/or/not false information. Inspired by white lies and disappointment, the work investigates information received and eliminates inappropriate hits that must be scanned before discarding, thus saving time and effort.

The students said choreographing during this pandemic has been both challenging and insightful and that “Mouthful of Marbles” has been their opportunity to showcase how they have overcome and adapted to ever-changing circumstances. 

“This entire experience,” Smith said, “from doing rehearsal on Zoom to deciding what color masks the dancers should wear has shown me the unlimited possibility (and necessity) for art performance as we move into a virtual world.”

Transitions: Mouthful of Marbles

What: Virtual presentation.

When: 7:30 p.m. March 12

Tickets: $10. 

Details: https://asuevents.asu.edu/mouthfulofmarbles

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