Internationally recognized dancer joins ASU's School of Music, Dance and Theatre

June 7, 2021

Internationally recognized and award-winning dancer, choreographer, educator and performer LaTasha Barnes joins the dance faculty in Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre this fall. 

“Barnes is engaged in critical, innovative work that has the potential to transform American dance, and we look forward to how that manifests in our curriculum at ASU,” said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.  LaTasha Barnes LaTasha Barnes. Download Full Image

Barnes' career in dance spans genres, including house, hip-hop, waacking, vernacular jazz and Lindy Hop styles, and she serves as a cultural ambassador and tradition-bearer of Black American Social Dance. She is celebrated globally for her musicality, athleticism and joyful presence. 

The New York Times lauded Barnes as “a bridge between worlds that seldom intersect, a connector, or a rather a reconnector, since the styles and subcultures that she joins – encompassing much of the world-conquering dance that gestated in African American communities in the past century or so – are all branches of a family whose members often don’t recognize one another.” 

Her show “The Jazz Continuum” recently premiered at the Guggenheim Museum before heading to the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

Her leadership and business skills have placed her in positions of service as chair of the board of trustees for the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival, vice president of marketing and outreach for the International Lindy Hop Championship, co-director of HellaBlackLindyHop, board member of the Black Lindy Hoppers Fund, the Frankie Manning Foundation and a contributing member to the NEFER Global Movement Collective. 

She is currently a part of a brain trust of collaborators helping to develop the groundbreaking stage production “Swing Out,” is a developing partner of several intergenerational and intercommunal cultural arts exchanges, and is contributing to the upcoming text “21st Century Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in Teaching and Choreography” (University of Florida Press, 2021). 

“In each of my career fields and areas of study my desire to facilitate the sharing of ideas, skills and knowledge could never be deniednot just in dance,” Barnes said. 

Barnes self-designed a master’s degree in ethnochoreology, Black studies and performance studies through New York University Gallatin School. Her thesis and continuing research are working to bridge the gap between communities of practice and academic cultural dance research, performance, preservation and pedagogy.  

I was grateful to be a part of some truly generous mentor-mentee relationships,” she said. “Realizing how integral this relationship is to the development of artists and their forms, I wanted to be an effective piece of that collective work and responsibility model.”

Barnes said she is excited to join ASU and continue to inspire fellow artists and arts enthusiasts to champion artivism through cultivating an authentic sense of self and intention in their creative expressions and daily lives. 

“The most impactful way for me to fulfill that desire is through teaching and mentoring young dancers and collaborators,” she said. “This growth of course is not one-sided but again reciprocal. I get to learn as much as, if not more than, I share.”

This fall, she will be teaching Hip-Hop I, Dance in U.S. Popular Culture, a freshman dance seminar, Dance Matters, and co-facilitating the ASU community event “Sol Power Festival.” 

“To see and hear the sincere interest (in my work), and appreciation from those who were to be my faculty colleagues really showed me that ASU is deeply committed to developing well-rounded, dynamic and conscientious artists  not just fulfilling a status quo,” Barnes said. “I am really elated to have the opportunity to contribute to and galvanize that effort through cultural dance education, research and performance.”

Danielle Munoz

Media and Communications Coordinator, School of Film, Dance and Theatre


Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen to join ASU as director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

June 7, 2021

Every new academic year brings new faces to the university. For the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, new faces will not only be in the classroom but also leading the school as Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen has been named director, a role she will assume starting July 1.

Prior to joining ASU, Bagchi-Sen served as professor in the Department of Geography at State University of New York at Buffalo. Her time there also included a stint as chair of the department from 2010 to 2016 and service as co-director of the Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender. Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen to join ASU as director and professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

“Dr. Bagchi-Sen brings with her a wealth of administrative and leadership experience. A top-notch scholar and visible researcher, she is the perfect person to lead the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning into the future,” said Pardis Mahdavi, dean of the social sciences for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

MORE: 4 new directors join ASU's social sciences division

A human-geographer, Bagchi-Sen’s research specifically touches upon the topics of urban and economic geography. Her current research focuses on analyzing the relationship between demographic shifts and socio-economic outcomes, which is work that she will continue to investigate at ASU.

Her past research has focused on foreign direct investment in the United States followed by the study of the drivers and barriers of innovation in various high technology industries, including the biopharmaceutical and bioenergy sectors. Bagchi-Sen focuses on industry studies with a deep interest in understanding how industrial change affect regions. In recent years, she has undertaken research on shrinking cities in the deindustrialized parts of the United States to investigate the relationship between population and economic decline. In doing this research, she has also examined the debates surrounding local-regional policy and planning options.

Bagchi-Sen’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, and she has held long-established collaboration with scholars in the United Kingdom and Sweden. In 2020, she served as program director for the Human-Environment and Geographical Sciences with the National Science Foundation, a position that involved managing proposals submitted to several programs and participating in broader discussions within these programs about future directions, a position that will be coming to an end with Bagchi-Sen’s transition to becoming school director.

“Dr. Bagchi-Sen is joining our school at a time of incredible growth and opportunity,” said Elizabeth Wentz, dean and vice provost of ASU’s Graduate College, who for the last year has also served as interim director for the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, where she also holds a faculty position. “I look forward to seeing how she will expand our research and programmatic opportunities. Her research accolades and administrative experience will be of great benefit to the unit, our faculty and especially our students.”

“I am inspired by ASU's reconceptualization of 21st-century higher education and the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning’s dedication toward inclusivity, excellence and broader societal impact,“ said Bagchi-Sen. “I hope to work with everyone in the school to continue to achieve excellence in research, teaching and service (and) maintain visibility of the school at ASU and within the discipline.”

Megan Martin

Manager, Marketing and Communication, School of Human Evolution and Social Change