Displaying items by tag: Dance

Amy McMaster, a School of Dance student in the Ballet program, has been invited to represent the USA in the Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition. As a freshman at the U, McMaster is both a ballet major and pre-occupational therapy student, and belongs to the Honors College. She has been selected to represent Cecchetti USA at the upcoming Cecchetti Competition this summer in Florence, Italy. Cecchetti USA is a society in a larger worldwide organization that includes members from Australia, Canada, South Africa, UK, Japan, and Italy.

The Cecchetti Competition takes place every three years. The latest editions were held in 2014 in Richmond, Virginia, where McMaster first represented the U.S. The Cecchetti International aims to preserve, promote, and spread the Cecchetti Method, keeping its essence and historical tradition alive. The Cecchetti Method of ballet training is a progressive system of training dancers from a pre-ballet beginning level to a professional level. The Cecchetti Method was designed with careful regard to the laws of anatomy to prepare a dancer’s body to bear the physical demands of public performance. The Method embodies qualities that are essential to the dancer; balance, poise, strength, elevation, elasticity, musicality and artistry. The progressive approach of the Cecchetti method has produced a long list of very well-known and accomplished ballet dancers. Famous personalities and guests will be invited to take part in the jury process of the competition. Dancers, choreographers, and directors of prestigious vocational schools, along with directors of companies will offer important scholarships and contracts of employment to competitors.

This will be McMaster’s second experience as a competitor for Cecchetti USA, and she has been using the last three years to prepare.

“When I competed in 2014, I knew I would still be young enough to qualify for the 2017 competition, so I viewed it more as a learning experience than anything else; I wanted to know the caliber of the dancers from the other countries so I would be prepared for the next one. For the last three years, my goal has been to become the best dancer I could be so that this time I can be as good as or better than the dancers from professional schools such as English National Ballet School, National Ballet of Canada, etc.”

The dancers are judged on two solos and a classical ballet class. The 15-20 dancers with the top scores will be invited to the finals. At the end of the Finals Gala performance, the jury awards scholarships and awards to the finalist dancers.


Published in Finer Points Blog

This February, the School of Dance at the University of Utah is honored to welcome Gino Grenek of the Stephen Petronio Company for an exciting residency with dancers from both the Modern Dance and Ballet programs. Grenek's work with the company spans over 17 years, and he will work with the dancers to reset Petronio’s seminal work, MiddleSexGorge. This will be the first time the work has ever been performed by a university, and the school is alive with anticipation of this powerful part of the Gala program.

The inclusion of work in the Gala by the groundbreaking company, which celebrated its 30th anniversary just a few years ago, is a wonderful way to celebrate our start as the new School of Dance. It is without question an incredible honor for our students to have the opportunity to perform Petronio’s MiddleSexGorge.

Since founding SPC in 1984, Petronio has created over 35 works for his company and has been commissioned by some of the world’s most prestigious modern and ballet companies, including William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt (1987), Deutsche Oper Berlin (1992), Lyon Opera Ballet (1994), Maggio Danza Florence (1996), Sydney Dance Company (2003, full evening), Norrdans (2006), the Washington Ballet (2007), The Scottish Ballet (2007), and two works for National Dance Company Wales (2010 and 2013).

His career has been greatly influenced by his work with Steve Paxton, as well as his time with the Trisha Brown Dance Company (1979 to 1986), of which he was the first male dancer. He has gone on to build a unique career, receiving numerous accolades, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, an American Choreographer Award, a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, and most recently a 2015 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.

Stephen Petronio Company is now working on an unprecedented program, Bloodlines, which will honor a lineage of postmodern dance-masters. Over the course of 5 years SPC will perform choreography from influential artists along with creations by Petronio. Dedicated to the concept of artistic lineage, SPC will be the first contemporary American company to perform these iconic works outside of their original choreographer’s companies.

The School of Dance is thrilled for this unique engagement with the Stephen Petronio Company and looks forward to sharing this exciting program with the Salt Lake community.

Please join us for the School of Dance Gala on 3/23 – 4/1 at the Marriott Center for Dance.

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Emerging Leaders Ambassador and Guest Writer, Ashley Chin-Mark

The submission process began in late October of 2016 when undergraduate students sent abstracts under the mentorship of a university professor or faculty member. Projects were reviewed and accepted by early January 2017. On February 18, 2017, the Utah Valley University welcomed 11 higher education institutions from the state of Utah to participate in the Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research.

The conference spanned ten hours and featured approximately 519 presentations with as many as ten students leading each discussion. Students who did not present were invited to join as well in order to learn about new research developments and foster inter-university networking. The available topics included agriculture, business, communications, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, life sciences, mathematical sciences, physical sciences, and social and behavioral sciences, which were held in buildings that appropriately corresponded with each category.

Under the fine arts category, the creative dance section was held in the Ragan Theater in the Sorenson Center where six choreographers presented their abstracts and choreography pieces in a performance setting.

As a first-time student researcher and attendee at the Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research, I very much enjoyed partaking in the presentational experience among fellow students. Accompanied by the dancers in my piece, the day started with UVU Senior Vice President, Jeff Olsen, speaking on the importance of research (“be humble, be patient, seek the truth”) and UVU alumnus and filmmaker, Torben Bernhard, speaking on the importance of sharing stories (“be passionate, fail but get back up, persevere despite all obstacles, listen to others”). Afterwards, we attended Session I, explored the UVU campus and dance studios (we even ran into a former U of U Modern Dance Professor), and performed in Session II.

I had originally hoped to present to a larger audience of individuals who were not familiar with the dance world, and was instead greeted by a small but receptive audience of 20 students and professors. The intimacy of the small audience was a blessing in disguise; I was able to more critically engage with people who were already well aware of the dance culture. As a result, I received relevant feedback and engaged in meaningful conversation with new (UVU professors and graduate program recruits) and old acquaintances (a former U of U Modern dancer and a dancer I met at ACDA two years ago).

No matter if the audience is small or large, any chance to share or watch choreography through different perspectives is a valuable investment of time. I highly encourage all students to attend and/or present at research conferences. The university courses they are currently taking may serve as a springboard to further develop their passion and explore their field through in-depth research or intensive study. This comes with no cost, other than transportation, because student presenter registration is institutionally paid, which means the universities sponsor their own students to travel off-campus to share their research and promote their school.

Students should seek help from the Office of Undergraduate Studies, check the UCUR website for registration instructions for the 2018 conference, read past abstracts to see the submission format, and visit the UCUR 2016 Conference website for a comprehensive schedule.

Published in Finer Points Blog

The Ballet and Modern Dance programs will share the stage for the first time ever in the School of Dance’s inaugural Gala Concert this March. Formed in 2016, the new School of Dance is dedicated to the continued legacies of the individual disciplines of Ballet and Modern Dance. In honor of the creation of this School, the Gala concert will feature a diverse program, incorporating four unique perspectives on the art of dance including an excerpt of Swan Lake, two original faculty works, and culminating with an excerpt of Stephen Petronio’s iconic masterwork MiddleSexGorge.

The program opens with Act III of the legendary ballet, Swan Lake, boldly adapted by Professor Jay Kim and assisted by Professor James Ady. The version performed is the 1895 revival first staged for the Imperial Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.

School of Dance Director Luc Vanier’s Triptych Octet is a distillation of the evening length work, Triptych. Created in 2008, Triptych was created in collaboration with composer Chris Burns and painter Leslie Vansen. The dance’s movement research focuses primarily on allowing the body to arch to its full capacity and what this means for the balance between the head, spine and the pelvis. The clockwork precision timing of the crisscrossing patterns of the two trios is inspired by Vansen’s abstract paintings. The duet explores what it means to be tri-legged as Burn’s percussive score sets the spacious rhythmic tone for the work.

Enough, a new work by Modern Dance Program Coordinator Stephen Koester, started by asking the question, “As civilization ‘advances,’ have we become any more civilized or humane?” Our history can be said to be littered with our inability to treat others with humanity, kindness and care, as beliefs, faiths, greed, need, and want trump responsibility to each other. Juxtaposing a solo figure against a quartet, the dance evokes images of injury, injustice, offense and defeat, building to a sense of desolation and disconnection. Koester contrasts visceral, aggressive movement and his signature partnering with a serene sound score by composer Max Richter.

The exciting final dance on the Gala program is an excerpt of the groundbreaking work, MiddleSexGorge. First debuted in 1990, MiddleSexGorge is choreographer Stephen Petronio’s signature anthem to gender and power. With heat and volatility, MiddleSexGorge propels the dancers through space in bold, sensually charged encounters inspired by Petronio's involvement with ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in the late ’80s. The piece is set to a commissioned score by the British post-punk band, Wire. Gino Grenek, whose work with the Stephen Petronio Company spans over 17 years, was the guest artist in residence who staged the work on the dancers. This is the first time MiddleSexGorge will be performed by any university, and it is a great honor for the School of Dance students from both programs to have the opportunity to perform this technically demanding piece together.

Join us for the School of Dance Gala, March 23-25 and March 30-April 1 at the Marriott Center for Dance at the University of Utah. In addition to the evening performances there will be a 2:00 PM matinee performance both Saturdays of the run. Tickets are available online at Tickets.utah.edu, by phone at 801.581.7100 or at the door 30 minutes prior to curtain. A celebration dinner precedes the April 1 evening performance; for dinner tickets or more information please visit Dance.utah.edu.

Published in Finer Points Blog

This year, the School of Dance has had the inspiring opportunity to welcome Art and Art History MFA Student David Habben, into the dance studios for a unique collaboration. Illustrator and fine artist in the Art Department, Habben’s works created with and inspired by the dancers over the past year, will be on display 3/20 – 3/28 in the Alvin Gittins Gallery, located in the Art & Art History Building.

The project began when Habben was introduced to Professor Brent Schneider in the Modern Dance Program by one of his faculty advisors. Schneider invited Habben to visit the School of Dance’s technique classes to see what would come of it, and with the particular support of Schneider, Visiting Assistant Professor Daniel Clifton, and musicians Wayne Coons and Michael Wall, a rich collaborative process began.

“As an illustrator, my initial reaction is always to draw something, but the movement of the dancers was so powerful, I felt the need to try a different approach. The brush and ink work started as an experiment and evolved into something that both I and the dancers were able to find a connection in.”

Habben describes his work with the dancers as a documentation of movement through illustrative impressionistic drawings. Using ink and a variety of brushes, Habben is “intent on capturing the subtleties of motion that the dancers utilize to form their compositions. The idea centers around seeing ourselves through other people's eyes, communicating more effectively, and also bringing our unique voices to more productive dialogue.”

At his show, observers will have the opportunity to see nearly 50 works created in the dance studios, including one large piece that stands 8ft tall by over 20ft long. This larger work was created by the dancers themselves during the course of a technique class, the dancers responding to their classmates’ movements and to the energy still resonating within them as they stepped off the dance floor to transition to painting. Visitors to the gallery will also hear a recording of the sounds of the dance studio during that particular collaboration, bringing them multi-texturally into the unique experience of that class.

Reflecting back on his experience, Habben shares that he didn’t have any expectations going into the process and believes that “that's one of the reasons it has been so rewarding. To walk into those studios as an outsider and end up becoming so involved with the faculty and students was an amazing opportunity. I've been able to learn so many things, but I particularly felt a renewed sense of the power of personal expression and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to new experiences. As part of the process, I was actually able to take a class myself and learn firsthand the effort, focus, and endurance that are required of these dancers. Their talent and enthusiasm was truly inspiring.”

“Be Somewhere” by David Habben runs 3/20 -3/28 in the Alvin Gittins Gallery, Art & Art History Bldg. Artist Talk 3/24 at 5PM in Rm 158 with a reception from 6-9PM.

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Emerging Leaders Ambassador and Guest Writer, Rachel Luebbert

One of the first things you do each morning is put clothes on. You make decisions of what to wear and what not to wear, covering your body in very specific ways. This is an act of drag and although it might be unconscious at times, it influences the way the world receives us.

Shane Davis, a third grad student in the Modern Dance program founded a new class this semester entitled “Dragging Gender into the 21st Century” that explores these themes. Davis explained, “My course looks at how drag, both the intentional art form and the subconscious daily routine, can be used to examine gender normativity.” This course presents a critical lens to analyze the role of drag across history and in the 21st century.

Natalie Oliver, a grad student in the Art & Art History Department decided to take this course because it aligned with her own studio practice research. Oliver explains, “I develop different personas in my studio work. This course has helped me understand the history of Drag as well as the different ways to perform my created characters.” This class, for example, is structured with a variety of readings that unpack the history of drag, along with performance exercises, guest speakers, and even make-up tutorials. Each of these classes is intended to prepare students for their creative final performance. Oliver explained that one of the most impactful readings for her surrounded the Medieval European transvestite saints who were women who would dress like men, then join the church in order to escape a forcefully oppressive life. Oliver mentioned, “This topic allowed me to consider Drag history from a female perspective, as opposed to a male perspective.” Throughout this course, Davis initiates conversations on what is considered masculine and feminine and how we can co-switch between all these symbols as we negotiate identity within the body.

In addition to this course, Davis is presenting his thesis “We Gender and So Can You” which also explores the interplay of drag, gender, and the body. This original work premieres on March 24th and is composed of nine different puzzle pieces that each react to different parts of gender. Davis explains, “I explore how we can be less serious about the institution of gender to create more of an openness to others.” One of these pieces was inspired by the societal construct that has taught women to take up less space than men. This piece includes a quartet of women that are taking up space, eating it up, splicing through it and commanding a reaction. This will be an exciting evening of exploring the identity we as individuals adopt based on the forces of society, drag, gender, and the body.

“We Gender and So Can You” premiers March 24th at 9:45PM, $5 entry fee at the Metro Music Hall (615 West 100 South).

*Must be 21 and up (a later presentation will be shown that is open to all ages).

Published in Finer Points Blog


Spring 2025 Convocation
May 2, 2025
Kingsbury Hall

We look forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with you and are so proud of all the hard work, creativity, and risk-taking you do in the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. We compile information about convocation here, so keep checking back for updates!

Please check your uMail regularly for other information/news from the University, the College, and your Unit.


Congratulations to the College of Fine Arts Class of 2024!

We were so happy to help celebrate your big day with you and your loved ones!   

Did someone special to you miss the Convocation ceremony?  Have them watch it now below.




Here is a slideshow of the big day to help remind you of the celebration:

University of Utah College of Fine Arts

Convocation Slideshow


Digital Clickable Image Graduate in front of a block U


College of Fine Arts Class of 2025!

Stay tuned to this website for more information about Commencement and Convocation in May 2025.  This site will be updated as information becomes available.  In the meantime, please see below for important information from the 2024 exercises that may help you tentatively plan for 2025.

College of Fine Arts Convocation Countdown



Kingsbury Hall has very recently updated their security protocols effective immediately.  Please see their sign below:

Prohibited Items


*Please note that we were also told that flowers in vases and other items that may cause an obstruction in an emergency will not be allowed in the building.  All that enter Kingsbury Hall are subject to a screening before entering the venue.

The College of Fine Arts Convocation Ceremony will take place on May 3 at 12pm.  The ceremony will take place in Kingsbury Hall in President's Circle.  Students that graduated in Summer or Fall 2023, or are planning to graduate in any semester in 2024 may participate. (Please note that this differs slightly from the University Commencement participation cutoffs)

Graduates should start to arrive at 11:15am in their regalia at their unit meeting places.  These will be outdoors on the sidewalk between Kingsbury Hall and David Gardner Hall.  Please follow signs and volunteer instructions.

Guests will be allowed to enter Kingsbury Hall at 11:30am.  Please be seated no later than 11:55am.  Those not seated by that time may have to wait until after the graduate processional to be seated.

  • The CFA Convocation is a ticketed event.  The number of tickets given is controlled by the venue and will determine the number of tickets offered to each graduate participating in the ceremony.  Ticket RSVP for the 2024 Convocation has closed.  Everyone that RSVP'd should have received an email to their uMail from the Dean's Office on April 3, 2024 with an update.  Tickets will be distributed by your unit's Convocation Representative. (list below in Important Information)
    • If you missed RSVPing and need tickets, or if you need extra tickets past the ones you RSVP'd for, please contact your unit's Convocation Representative and make them aware of your need. 


Get to Know Your Convocation Speaker--Michael Palmer

Get to Know Your 2024 CFA Outstanding Seniors


Important Information

Published in Current Undergraduates
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