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Dance student finds a home for all of her passions at ASU

Photo by Chloe DeMarce

May 03, 2022

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

When Lauren Jimenez didn’t make her high school dance team, she was devastated. But she didn’t give up. She spent extra hours in the studio preparing for the next year — when she made the team.

When Jimenez came to Arizona State University, she experienced the same disappointment again when she didn’t make the dance team here. She still wasn’t ready to give up on her dream and threw herself into her studies — an ambitious task as a dance major with a minor in film studies and a certificate in homeland security.

Originally from Brentwood, California, Jimenez says her desire to pursue the certificate in homeland security came after visiting the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York as a child. She said seeing the rubble and the drawings of children who had lost their parents really impacted her.

“Ever since then, I’ve had a passion for counter terrorism, for compassion and for making the world a better place,” she said. “I’m a geek when people start bringing up homeland security stuff. They have been some of the most fun classes I’ve ever taken.”

As a student in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, Jimenez’s creative work has appeared at ASU’s Spring Dance Fest, ASU Gammage Auditorium and Tempe Center for the Arts. Most recently, she was chosen for the Herberger Institute Constellation Grant that funded and supported her senior capstone, “Anticipating Mourning.”

She spent two years as the president of the dance student organization and recently completed an arts administration internship with CONDER/dance, a Tempe-based contemporary dance company.

“(Jimenez) exemplifies the drive, vision and follow-through of our most exceptional arts students,” said Carley Conder, clinical assistant professor of dance in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “She has the energy, vision and motivation to execute a project collaboratively from conception to execution. She is both an idea person and a get-the-job-done person while making people feel valued in the process.”

She extended her graduation date by a year during the pandemic so that she could return to the classroom and the stage with her classmates. She said it wasn’t an easy decision, but she feels it was the right one for her.

“Dance during the pandemic was terrible! When the pandemic happened, I was devastated. I felt like I was losing my passion,” she said. “I actually took a year off school. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Jimenez said she’s not sure what lies ahead after graduation, but she wants to stay in Arizona for another year with CONDER/dance before auditioning for other dance companies.

“I just want to keep dancing,” she said. “It’s important for me to keep dancing no matter where or what after college.”

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

Answer: I would say my sophomore year was really pivotal for me. Something just really connected for me then. There was a change in my maturity and my professionalism. I went to the American Dance Festival in North Carolina and was introduced to so many companies and people and  what is really happening in the industry right now. I was able to see what my potential was. Realizing what I had the capacity to attain was really inspiring for me.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I have always loved ASU. I love the heat. I like seeing nature – driving and seeing the mountains against the sky. I also really liked the football team and the social aspects here. I was part of a sorority early on, even though I’m not still. It was important to me to not only study but to be fulfilled by campus life. 

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

A: I would have to say Adjunct Professor Nicole Bradley Browning. She changed my perspective on what performance means. I used to get really, really nervous every time I would perform. I’d be backstage crying. My view changed. She helped me see that dance is just life and performing is just an extension of that. At the end of the day, how do you bring yourself to the work? Also, she saw something in me that I couldn’t see. I’m just really thankful to all the professors and all the people I met along the way and who believed in me more than I believed in myself. 

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

A: The first would be to trust yourself. We always know more and can do more than we think. Second is to not accept “no” for an answer. If someone tells you you’re not ready yet, then prove them wrong. Lastly, no one is going to hold your hand. The professors are going to guide you but you have to want it for yourself. Challenging them is just as important as them challenging us. It pushes the field forward. With our generation, it’s important to question what our professors think.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus?

A: To warm up for dance, I love the Galvin lobby. It’s oddly specific, but the vibes are just incredible. To just chill, outside Bulldog Hall there are stairs that lead to nothing. I love going out there during sunset, putting on music and doing homework. 

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

A: This is an important question but it’s a hard one. I would want to solve the lack of compassion in our world. I would fund people to be trained in compassion and to not hate each other. I think that it’s important to solve the divisiveness of the country. 

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