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


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

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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. 

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

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