International MFA dance student reimagines the audience experience through creative practices


May 2, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

Kathy Luo started her dance journey at the age of 4.  Kathy Luo's applied project, “Out of the Blue,” explored immersive dance and challenged the traditional view of spectators. Dancers moved fluidly between and around the audience members, who were placed on stage with the dancers in chairs. Download Full Image

“It made me feel like my life was colorful,” Luo said. 

As she got older, her parents continued to support her pursuit of dance as a profession. 

“Dancing made me feel happy and passionate about my life,” said Luo. “That was the only time I felt like I could be creative and be myself.”

Luo came to Arizona State University from Beijing looking for cultural experiences and opportunities to expand her creative practice. She graduates this May with an MFA in dance from the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.

“I wanted to have a new life experience and see what it’s like to experience a different culture and surround myself with different people,” she said. “I felt that could give me a lot of inspiration in my artistic creation. It helps me be a better person — a better human being.”

As part of her application to the MFA program, Luo submitted choreography samples, movement practice videos and a personal statement. Then she participated in a virtual interview. 

“Based on everything, I envisioned myself here at ASU, so I went for it,” said Luo. “If I really want to do something, I will do it.”

While in the MFA program, Luo sought out opportunities to collaborate with students and colleagues outside the program. Luo participated in three dance-film collaborations during the pandemic: "A Little Boy and the Moon" and "Rise” with the music program and “Unbreakable” with the contemporary dance company Kraken Still and Film. Her applied project, “Out of the Blue,” explored immersive dance and challenged the traditional view of spectators. Dancers moved fluidly between and around the audience members, who were placed on stage with the dancers in chairs. 

“The ethos of my creative research centers on the integration of dance and theater by creating immersive dance theater,” said Luo. “In the future, I hope to deepen my research into the ways that dance serves as an embodiment of social responsibility.”

After graduation, Luo wants to stay in the United States. She hopes to enter academia and recently interviewed for an adjunct faculty position at a university.

“I think it went well,” she said. “But we’ll see!”

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

Answer: No. 1 is the community. The art-making community at ASU is really vibrant and positive. I feel like I am included in our artistic community. We are really connected with each other, between different departments and different disciplines. We support each other. 

No. 2 is the number of opportunities for students to explore themselves. Our program provides a lot of student concerts and guest artists. Students can perform and collaborate with professionals.

No. 3 is the resources. The public resources, the facilities, the gym, the library.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: The program had the sense of diversity I was looking for. I can feel the diversity is growing at ASU in the dance program. I can really engage myself in different cultures. The faculty members are really supportive. They support any kind of ideas and projects. They’re really approachable and kind. The program really focuses on creativity. It gave me more flexibility and confidence to pursue my passions.

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

A: My committee adviser Eileen Standley. I miss her so much. She is the person who has been supporting my creative ideas and helping me get through any setbacks. She gave me a lot of advice on how to approach my creative ideas with a project. She’s helped me not only to be a good artist, but she’s also very warm and encouraged me to be brave and try out the things I want. All of her support is whole-hearted. She helped me be proud of myself as an emerging artist.

(Assistant Director of dance and Associate Professor) Keith Thompson is my mentor teacher. He helped me to know how to be a good teacher and how to design my courses and how to build a good relationship with students. He really pushed me to be a good educator. That makes me feel like I can be a good artist as well as a good educator. I can do things I never imagined before! 

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

A: My first suggestion would be just get started! Be brave because it’s really hard that first semester. Grad school has a lot of writing and reading assignments. At first as a dance MFA, that seems surprising. But no, we definitely have to write and read a lot. Push yourself and push your boundaries. Jump out of your comfort zone. You have to push through the whole process.

And be clear about your research. Generate clear ideas about what you’re interested in. Have a general vision of what you want to do in your graduate research. Do a lot of collaboration work. Increase your chance of connecting with other people and reach out to different people. 

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

A: There are a lot of spots that I really like. My favorite is Hayden Library, because every time I’m in the library, it just feels good. I feel calm and productive.

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

A: I want to help people. Right now a lot of people are suffering from mental health problems. We are paying a lot of attention to our physical health, but not to our mental health. I want to help people live a happy life.

Lacy Chaffee

Media and communications coordinator, School of Music, Dance and Theatre

480-727-5550

Coach learns the importance of being a global citizen in sports


May 2, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

During her senior year in college, Yousra Manar realized she had a passion for the sports industry. Yousra Manar Yousra Manar, ASU Law Master of Sports Law and Business graduate, chose the Allan “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business program at ASU Law because it is "the only program in the U.S. that combines both the legal side and business side of sports," she said. Manar will be head coach for the women’s lacrosse team at Earlham College in Indiana after graduation. Download Full Image

Looking for a way to further her education and pursue a career in sports, she found both in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. ASU Law’s location in Phoenix – at the center of some of the largest sports teams – stood out to her as a prime opportunity to be in the hub of ideal jobs for the next generation of sports professionals.

And after speaking with Aaron Hernandez, director of the Allan “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business program at ASU Law, she knew the program was the right fit for her.

While pursuing a Master of Sports Law and Business (MSLB), Manar became an SLB Selig Scholar and a graduate assistant for the program. During her time at ASU Law, she had the opportunity to intern for the Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission and was the head coach for the girls lacrosse team at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe.

“ASU Law and the Selig Sports Law and Business program truly equipped me with the professional tools and network I needed to succeed in my current career in sports,” Manar said.  “I gained an amazing support system from my peers and professors that encouraged me in pursuing a career in coaching.”

We spoke to Manar about her time at ASU Law and what she plans to do next.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: As I spent my undergraduate year playing for the Earlham College women’s lacrosse team, interning for the athletic department and taking business classes, it became clearer that I wanted my career to revolve around sports whether that be coaching or working in a collegiate athletic department. I instantly knew that the best way to succeed in the sports industry was by pursuing a graduate degree and getting more experience in different areas.

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

A: Oftentimes we get lost in only paying attention to the issues that directly affect us. Through my classes at ASU, my professors have been able to emphasize issues that we don’t necessarily think about in our day-to-day life, and sometimes issues that happen on an international level that we should still be aware of as citizens of the world. This broad perspective has helped me look at things from a different standpoint, analyze things from different lenses and think critically.

Q: Why did you choose ASU Law?

A: I chose the Allan “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business program at ASU Law as it is a unique program and the only program in the U.S. that combines both the legal side and business side of sports. After connecting with Program Director Aaron Hernandez, I learned about all the opportunities that it offered from the top-notch faculty roster, advisory board and alumni network, to the career advancement opportunities present in and outside the classroom that made my decision to go to ASU Law a no-brainer.

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

A: This is a very difficult question as I truly believe I learned something important from every professor I’ve had, but if I had to pick one professor it would be Sonja Robinson. In her Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) course, Professor Robinson taught me how to think outside the box, analyze issues from a DEI lens but most importantly, show compassion and understanding for people as we’re trying to generate a positive impact in the sports world.

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

A: I would tell those still in school to not be afraid to step out of their comfort zone and/or try something new. Discomfort is a catalyst for growth. That’s how you will get the most out of your experience, whether that is going to events you don’t usually go to, talking to new people or taking a class that doesn’t directly relate to your area of interest. As Shia LaBeouf shouts (in his motivational viral video), “Just do it!”

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

A: My favorite spot on campus is probably outside of the Beus Center for Law and Society. That’s where I got to hang out with friends and work or study when the weather would permit!

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plan after graduation is to continue my career working as head coach for the women’s lacrosse team at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, a position I was fortunate to get a few months before graduation.

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

A: Being born and raised in Morocco and having spent all my childhood by the ocean, one problem that really stands out to me is ocean pollution. If I had $40 million I would use it to help revitalize our ocean, donate to organizations that support climate change, specifically ocean revitalization, and partner with them by investing in technologies that can help preserve our ecosystems.

Meenah Rincon

Communications Manager, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law