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Spring Dance Fest features guest artists, student choreographers

Works will be performed at the Margaret Gisolo Theatre on April 19–21

One dancer stands behind the other with arms extended like wings against a dark blue background

Yawen Luo and Valkyrie Yao perform in "Desire Path" by Valkyrie Yao. Photo by Oscar Guan

April 16, 2024

The School of Music, Dance and Theatre will premiere two new works by guest artists Michele Byrd-McPhee and Frankie Martinez at this year’s Spring Dance Fest. 

Spring Dance Fest

7:30 p.m. April 19–20
2 p.m. April 21
Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre
Tempe campus

Arizona State University students will perform these original works at the Margaret Gisolo Theatre April 19–21.

Byrd-McPhee is a 2023 Bessie Award winner, executive director for Ladies of Hip-Hop and the artistic director of Ladies of Hip-Hop Dance Collective. As a street dancer and arts activist, she re-contextualizes spaces and conversations about hip-hop culture. Her work created for ASU, “Ripple of Resolve,” explores the theme of empowerment and self-belief. 

“The piece embodies the concept of freedom through movement, as dancers break free from constraints and limitations, expressing their inner strength and determination,” said Byrd-McPhee. “The choreography taps into fluidity and the power of water, representing both its gentle flow and unstoppable force.”

ASU students rehearse “Ripple of Resolve" by Michele Byrd-McPhee. Videography by Benjamin Adelberg.

Martinez is the founder of Abakuá Afro-Latin Dance Company and one of the leading experts in exploring both the roots and future of Afro-Latin dance.

ASU Clinical Assistant Professor David Olarte has been helping students prepare to perform Martinez’s original work, titled “Catharsis in Uzi Minor.” 

“It is a reflection of urban life seen through the lens of Afro-Latin funk,” Olarte said. “It explores the mentality of the masses as they move through their day, almost hypnotized by the mundaneness of the societal standards set for them.

"This piece creates a unique opportunity to demonstrate the potential of Afro-Latin dance as a formidable option in the lexicon of artistic music and movement forms.”

Frankie Martinez discusses his choreographic process. Video by Benjamin Adelberg.

Alongside these two new works by world-renowned guest artists will be pieces from ASU students, chosen by a panel of judges. The selections include work by graduate students j. bouey, JP Alejandro, Alecea Housworth, Valkyrie Yao and undergraduate student Eliana Bracamonte. 

“I’m honestly just super grateful and honored for the opportunity, especially because this work means so much to me,” said Bracamonte, who is presenting “Spiritual Cording,” a piece that explores the spiritual connection between two people and the effects it has on the individual.

“It’s a personal piece based on my own experiences, and it turned out to be everything I imagined.”

One dancer points while another moves away as they perform against an orange background
Shayla Eshelman and Tom Bullard perform in Eliana Bracamonte's "Spiritual Cording." Photography by Tim Trumble

Get tickets now

Tickets are now on sale for Spring Dance Fest. Audience members must purchase tickets through the Herberger Institute Box Office.

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