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ASU professors bring fun interaction to campus with inaugural Mash Up event

A crowd gathered outside of a circular building watches people perform a dance.

The inaugural Mash Up event brought together music, dance and theater for playful collaborations. Photo by Camille Bruya

May 24, 2022

On April 22, the School of Music, Dance and Theatre at Arizona State University launched the inaugural Mash Up collaboration, bringing together students and faculty members for interactive performances and installations.

It was conceived as “a two-hour happy hour of roaming performances and interactive installations featuring music, dance and theater students exploring how the playful spirit of collaboration can nourish us, challenge us and bring us together.”

“Mash Up emerged from a desire to create opportunities for music, dance and theater to collaborate with each other and blur the lines between our disciplines,” said Jason Caslor, associate professor, director of Wind Bands at ASU and brainchild of the event.

The collaboration was a combination of fixed installations that ran the duration of the event and time-specific collaborations that occurred in various locations in the Nelson Fine Arts Center plaza.

“The event is a symbolic gesture of joy to spark the union between the three areas,” said Robert Farid Karimi, assistant professor of theater and co-coordinator with Caslor. “We are bringing a playful spirit into this collaboration and looking at how it can nourish us.”

The ASU Gospel Choir kicked off the event with an outdoor performance near the Nelson Fine Arts Center plaza. Attendees then chose their own adventure from a variety of performances and installations taking place in and around Galvin Plaza, Katzin Concert Hall and Nelson Fine Arts Center.

“That’s our challenge for the two hours: How can we create gestures, performances and participatory installations that create a playful, joyous, nourishing experience for everybody?” Karimi said.

Caslor said the idea came from an event when he was a student at ASU.

“We did a digital carnival with popcorn and food trucks and a huge concert,” Caslor said. “It was out of the norm for a very traditional school. I wanted to bring that feel back.”

Karimi emphasized the role of playfulness in the evening.

“We are bringing a playful spirit into this collaboration and examining how it can nourish us,” he said.

Featured performance experiences included the ASU Gospel Choir, ASU Wind Ensemble, Creative Practices (dance), Movement Practices (dance), ASU Percussion Studio and ASU Saxophone Ensemble. The performances, while not interactive, were designed so that audience members could experience them in unique spaces and acoustics.

Interactive participatory installations were created by student artists Jacob Buttry, Sophia Callesen, Kristina Friedgen, Abby Myers, Sadie Azersky, Alejandro Parra and Zoey Schafer

Food trucks El Pastorcito Taqueria and Totally Rolled Ice Cream provided food near the Music Building, and free mocktails were available at a "speakeasy" at the ASU Art Museum.

Faculty coordinators for the event included Caslor, Karimi, Mary Fitzgerald, professor and director of the dance program, Carley Condor, clinical assistant professor of dance, Michael Compitello, assistant professor of percussion, and Nathan Myers, assistant professor of voice.

“My hope is that our students begin to build connections with colleagues outside of their central discipline,” Caslor said. “I believe beautiful things can happen when we move out of our comfort zone and begin to explore the different ways our unique talents can connect with people and art forms new to us.”

The duo hopes to continue this event and other fun, collaborative events each year.

“This is just the beginning,” Karimi said.

Above: The ASU Wind Ensemble and Carley Conder's Creative Practices III dance class collaborated on Jody Rockmaker's "Gestures" for performance at the first ASU Mash Up event in the ASU Organ Hall.

Written by Lynne MacDonald and Lacy Chaffee of the Herberger Institute.

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