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MFA student to present 1st dance show of the season, credits creativity of ASU program

Kathy Luo presents this year's Emerging Artist dance performance Oct. 29–31. Photography by Rind Studio.

October 26, 2021

Kathy Luo, Arizona State University MFA student in dance, will present “Out of the Blue” Oct. 29–31 in this year’s “Emerging Artist” performance.

“This is the first show of the dance season,” said Mary Fitzgerald, ASU professor and artistic director of dance in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “We are excited to kick it off with such an imaginative project that beautifully integrates dance, music and visual design.”

The 25-minute piece features six dancers. Luo uses movement, sound and lighting to create a watery world based on her zodiac sign, Pisces.

“I feel like the fluidity and watery quality is really in line with my dancing style,” Luo said. 

Eileen Standley, clinical professor of dance, is serving as Luo’s MFA committee chair. She said Luo “creates a sensory environment in which an ongoing balance between dream and reality, the conscious and the unconscious can be shared collectively with the audience.”

Luo wanted her project to reexamine the ways audiences engage with dance. She said she doesn’t want audience members just sitting back in their seats observing the show. 

“I really want my audience to know that they are not just to watch the performance, accepting the things that I am putting there,” Luo said. “I want them to really experience the whole thing, to incorporate their thoughts and their interpretations of the experience.”

At performances of “Out of the Blue,” audiences are invited to sit on the stage while the dancers perform around them.

“It’s about bringing the audience on the stage with the performers so they can have that reciprocal interaction with each other,” Luo said.

Creating the project has taken more than a year. She started last year thinking about the theme and concept. She began with improvisational movement and her solo, then choreographed the movement while adding duets, a trio and group movement. Luo said it is an ongoing process.

Luo credits the ASU dance program for her creativity and out-of-the-box approach. Trained in China, she said her undergraduate program was focused on polishing dance technique. She chose ASU’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre for the dance program’s creative approach to art.

“It’s really two different mindsets,” she said. “The training I got from China, but the creativity I received from ASU.”

Standley said Luo’s choreography is influenced by her experience as an international student and “abstractly reflects her journey of creating a home within herself in an unknown land.”

After graduating in May, Luo hopes to perform with a contemporary dance company as well as teach and continue to choreograph. She said students considering dance at ASU should jump right in, bring their passion and have fun. Luo said her time at ASU has set her on the path to be successful.

“ASU is embracing a lot of different ideas, a lot of diversity,” Luo said. “They are encouraging students to have more creative ideas and thoughts. It really helped me.”

“Out of the Blue” will be presented in the Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre at ASU’s Tempe campus. Tickets must be purchased online in advance at the Herberger Institute Box Office.


“Out of the Blue”
7:30 p.m. Oct 29 and 30
2 p.m. Oct. 31
Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre

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