Guest artists to premiere new dance works at ASU Spring Dance Fest

April 14, 2023

Several guest artists selected Arizona State University dance students to learn original choreography for new creative works that will premiere in this year’s Spring Dance Fest, April 21–23. The event highlights the creativity and range of dance students within the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.

“We have a diverse lineup of works that explore ideas around identity, social justice, culture, fantasy and visual art,” said Mary Fitzgerald, artistic director of dance and professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.  Two dancers perform a latin dance in costume. ASU Professor David Olarte performs with partner Carla Leon Celaya. Olarte provided choreography for this year's Spring Dance Fest. Photo by Tim Trumble Download Full Image

Kayla Farrish visited ASU as a guest artist this year, teaching classes and developing a new work with ASU dancers. Farrish is a choreographer, director and filmmaker who uses diverse media to tell stories and build relationships. 

“What feels like an alignment teaching here is how truly diverse this space is and how this program is opening up ways for different dance forms, different vocabularies, different identities,” Farrish said. “That’s really what I’ve thought about with the choreography.”

Sixteen ASU dancers will perform in Farrish’s piece, titled “The Present.”

“My experience working on Kayla Farrish’s piece has been eye-opening,” said Giana Garcia, a first-year dance education major. “The piece has taught me how to embody a character as well as do abstract movement in order to make a story come alive. Overall, it has been an amazing experience.”

Artist Yin Yue also visited ASU as a guest artist and shared her unique movement vocabulary, which is a fusion inspired by Chinese dance, folk, ballet and contemporary dance movement. 

After the residency, the dancers continue to practice and rehearse the pieces to get them ready for Spring Dance Fest. Graduate dance student Isabella Lepp has helped lead those rehearsals. 

“Leading a portion of the Yin Yue rehearsals since her departure, in collaboration with Carley Conder and Ying Ma, has been an exciting challenge for me,” Lepp said. “Typically, I choreograph the piece that I then end up rehearsing, but that is not the case here. I am always renegotiating how much my opinion of the piece and its current state interjects in regards to my personal aesthetic preference and trying to keep Yin's original intentions thriving.”

In addition to the new works by Yue and Farrish, this year’s event includes choreography by ASU faculty member David Olarte, and choreography by students Kyla Kabat, Maddie Lasco, JP Alejandro, Tanya Dimitrov, Valkyrie Yao and Alecea Housworth.

Audiences can purchase tickets to Spring Dance Fest online through the Herberger Institute Box Office

Spring Dance Fest

Galvin Playhouse Theatre, Tempe

7:30 p.m. April 21–22

2 p.m. April 23

Lacy Chaffee

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


ASU Pride Prom celebrates community, inclusion on campus

April 14, 2023

Acceptance, inclusion, community and fashion were the highlights of the night for the second annual Pride Prom held recently at Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus. 

Students dressed their best and danced the night away at the event, hosted on March 31 by Barrett, The Honors College, Residence Hall Association, Access Coalition, Barrett Leadership and Service Team, Prism, Rainbow Coalition and the Programming and Activities Board. Photo of students dancing at ASU Pride Prom More than 300 students — several shown here dancing — attended the 2023 Pride Prom held recently at the ASU Polytechnic campus. Photo courtesy Barrett, The Honors College Download Full Image

Pride Prom was open to all Sun Devils to come together and celebrate LGBTQ+ pride at ASU. The event themes of bright, bold and glow-in-the-dark were carried throughout Cooley Ballrooms with decorations that included multi-colored balloons and lights. High-energy, positivity and music added to the party atmosphere throughout the evening.

Students enjoyed refreshments from food trucks, took pictures at photo booths, got henna tattoos courtesy of the Multicultural Communities of Excellence, had caricatures drawn by artists and more.

“Pride Prom is an event for ASU students to express themselves in a safe space and have fun,” said Joshua Albin, senior program coordinator of student engagement and recruitment in Barrett at the Polytechnic campus. “Students are able to dress, engage and dance however they identify.”

“Many students did not get a prom in high school or did not feel comfortable to attend or to attend as their true self,” Albin said. “This is a night of redemption for these students to celebrate themselves and their community.”

This year’s Pride Prom saw more than 300 students from all four ASU campuses. “My favorite part was having so many students and seeing them dress up,” Albin said. “It was very empowering to see everyone having a good time.”

Kaelyn Kueneman, a junior animation major in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, went to Pride Prom with their girlfriend.

“When I was in high school, I would not even think of going to prom with a girlfriend,” they said. “Pride Prom is nice for people who didn’t or couldn’t go to prom in high school,” they said, adding that they enjoyed dancing with their girlfriend.

Kueneman’s partner, Rachel Beard Peterson, said “events like these are few and far between. They are so people can feel comfortable and feel seen.”

Peterson said she appreciated “seeing all the people wearing whatever they want — to be visibly queer and visibly disabled.”

Tyler Knotts, a senior business technology major in the W. P. Carey School of Business, said she believes this is an important event for ASU to host.  

“It’s nice to be recognized by the ASU community. It’s good to see people who are part of the queer community as well as allies come together,” she said.

Aubrey Tuttle, a senior psychology major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said Pride Prom gave students the opportunity to meet and connect with people who are like them.

“It’s important to develop a community within such a big university like ASU,” Tuttle said. “Sometimes you can feel like the only one, and it makes it hard to connect with other students. At Pride Prom, people have something in common with everyone here.”

Next year's event is already in the works and is planned to be bigger and better than previous years. “We hope to partner with more campus and ASU departments and organizations to make it more engaging and fun,” Albin said. “We are looking to create more ways to engage during and before the event.”

Story by Barrett, The Honors College student Alex Marie Solomon.