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Students say ASU dance program provides well rounded artistic training

Undergraduate students participating in the spring project presentations show off choreography, production talents and dance skills

Student dancers participate in the Spring Undergraduate Project Presentations at the Margaret Gisolo Theatre in Tempe on Friday, March 31, 2017.

Student dancers participate in the Spring Undergraduate Project Presentations at the Margaret Gisolo Theatre in Tempe on Friday, March 31, 2017.

ASU dance majors showed off their various talents by performing original pieces choreographed and produced by students at the Margaret Gisolo Theatre in Tempe on Friday night.

The Herberger Institute School of Film, Dance and Theater Undergrad Project Presentations were held on March 30 and March 31 to showcase the work of students from freshmen to seniors.

Courtney Nichols, a senior dance education major, was one of the artistic directors of the event, as well as a performer. She helped audition pieces and organize the overall show and said they didn’t have a specific theme in mind, but wanted to include as many different styles of dance as possible.

Nichols, who will graduate in December, has danced since she was a child but said she chose to attend the ASU dance program because it was “modern and different” for her.

“I’ve always been technically trained, like in ballet, jazz and tap — but I was never taught the creative process of dance and so this kind of teaches a lot about how you can choreograph, piece things together, run shows like this, so it was a good option,” she said.

Junior dance major Miguel Jarillo Pedraza was able to demonstrate many aspects of his skills as part of the undergraduate performances, choreographing a piece for pre-show that was performed in the lobby, as well as performing in another student's piece. Jarillo also helped with costuming for the show.

“I think that’s what the ASU program does, it’s not just ‘here’s a dancer, throw them out there.’ Actually they can perform, they can choreograph, they can write, they can teach, they can work backstage,” Jarillo said. “Not many universities or dance programs have that, they are focused on making me more of a whole artist, than just a dancer.”

Hannah Sewester, a dance and pre-physical therapy major was participating in the show for the second time. She said dancers were asked to audition to participate in the different pieces, and after she participated last semester, she was asked back.

Sewester has been rehearsing to participate in the project presentations since the beginning of the semester. She said a common misconception about being a dance major is that it’s less demanding than some other career paths.

“We work really hard, we are here all the time. I live on campus and I think so does everyone else. We do a lot of work, so that’s good to know,” she said.

Miquella Young, a dance minor who also participated in the undergraduate presentations, agrees.

“Being a dance major a lot of times people think it’s not as much work as being say, a chemistry major, but it’s just a different form of work. It’s just as difficult as any other major, if not more time consuming just in a different sense,” Young said. "So it really takes a lot of passion and heart for it, and if you don’t have that ... it takes a lot of commitment.”

Young has been dancing since she was 10, and said she will continue dancing as long as her body allows, although she plans to pursue a career in integrated health once she graduates. She chose ASU’s dance program because of the exposure to all different aspects of dance.

“I love all styles and I came to ASU because it’s a well rounded program based around creativity, and they have a lot of great performance opportunities,” she said.

Other upcoming Herberger Film, Dance and Theater events include the Mainstage: SpringDanceFest and the MainStage: Spring Film Capstone Showcase.

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