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Dance seniors use choreography to address social issues

A dancer in a white dress lies on her side with a blue and purple background

Audiences can see “Liminality” at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 10, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre. Tickets must be purchased online in advance through the Herberger Institute Box Office. Photo courtesy the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre

February 09, 2023

Seven Arizona State University dance students are speaking out about important social issues in this year’s senior projects. 

The seniors in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre will present their original choreography in the annual Transitions show, titled “Liminality.” They chose the name to describe experiencing "the space between no longer and not yet." As graduating seniors, they’re reflecting back on their school experiences while also looking forward to their professional paths.

“We are all in this weird space of becoming professionals,” said Ben Block, a dance education major with a minor in sustainability. “Plus, everyone’s piece falls into this range of addressing something that is not yet or that has already happened.”

Block wanted to use his piece to bring awareness to climate change and how large corporations should be held accountable for being more sustainable. His dancers move around and throw plastic bottles and bags as the stage fills with garbage.

“I wanted it to be a blend of my dance major and sustainability minor, but also very me,” said Block. “It’s full of bright colors and satire.”

Dance major Eva Rincón is presenting a piece that addresses unsheltered people, drug use and sex workers. The movement is inspired by images of Stephan’s Quintet, a grouping of five different but closely related galaxies photographed by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

“I really like the idea that if you look at things from a wider perspective, then you will be able to find how much common ground we actually have,” said Rincón. “The thing that we should be focusing on is the big picture of all of us together. We are going to find a way to come together. That intersectionality is already happening in these communities.”

Rincón is the recipient of a Creative Constellation grant and a Design and Arts Corps grant from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, as well as an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She plans to develop her piece into a full-length work with several acts.

Another student in the cohort, Youngjoo Jang, is a dance education major who will be presenting a piece using hip-hop to examine community and the ties that bind us together. She said her work encapsulates much of what she learned at ASU.

“The main concept that I’m using is the East Asian mythology of the red thread of fate,” said Jang. “I’m essentially exploring different bonds we experience in our lifetime. I wanted to share all the knowledge that I’ve gained here.”

In addition to choreography, each student is responsible for casting, music choice, costuming, lighting and rehearsals. It’s part of a yearlong course that prepares the students for professional work in the field.

“I am really grateful for all of the faculty and the mentors who have brought us to this point,” said Jang. “There’s so much compassion within this department.”

Audiences can see Liminality” at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 10, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre. Tickets must be purchased online in advance through the Herberger Institute Box Office.

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