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Each year, many fine arts students immerse themselves in exciting research, leaving a mark on their disciplines.
The College of Fine Arts is excited to celebrate the exciting work of two finalists for Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher 2022.

F22 Outstanding Seniors v210

Brynn Staker St. Clair collaborated with Dr. Elizabeth Craft in the musicology department in the U School of Music on her research on early American musical theatre. Staker catalogued and organized clips from Illinois newspapers that provided much-needed information on George M. Cohan and early American musical theater, as well as examined Utah newspapers from Cohan's time to better understand his national reach. She presented the research findings alongside Dr. Craft at "Fridays with Faculty." Staker was also employed by the University of Utah History Project, working to build a comprehensive history of the School of Music, spending signifiant library hours cataloguing programs and other historical university resources. 

In Their Own Words

"I began my research because I took a class from Dr. Elizabeth Craft. I discovered a fascination with American music. It’s always been my favorite to sing, as I consider myself a poetry nerd. Dr. Craft talked about the book she was writing, and that immediately caught my attention. I credit her with inspiring my interest in research. 

This semester I have expanded my research to focus on local performances. I have loved familiarizing myself with Utah performance history: the significant players, the vast appreciation, and the general response. I feel like this branch of my research has helped me connect very personally with the material. 

My research last semester was all about race in American musical theater. This was a fascinating project for me and allowed me to look more deeply at the prejudices embedded in the performances this country has come to love. It certainly taught me to look closer and to examine art through different perspectives."


F22 Outstanding Seniors v29

Serena Collins saw her original, full-length play entitled "Sympathizer" through all of its writing and production stages over the span of nearly two years and four academic semesters. Her research culminated in an off-campus production of the play, as well as a staged reading on campus as part of the Department of Theatre's New Plays Workshop, April 25-27 at PAB 115. 

"Sympathizer" centers around main character Calla, who finds herself in uncharted territory when her oldest and closest friend does something bad. With strong opinions on all sides, Calla tries to figure out what is right in the #metoo era. The script lives in the aftermath of sexual assault and begs the question, how do we begin to heal?

In Their Own Words

"One of my favorite discoveries came from an audience member at the production of "Sympathizer." They were a [sexual assault] survivor themselves and after the performance we had a long conversation about the difficulty of a survivor seeing their perpetrator go on to live a normal life. In that conversation, I realized an important nuance that the script was missing. I realized that, as important as it was to highlight empathy as an agent of change, it was equally important to validate the fact that no one owes a perpetrator a second chance. Full stop. That conversation added a whole scene to the current draft of the script!

When I started thinking about these issues, I was afraid to share my questions and thoughts with the people in my life because it was taboo to question the logic of my political group.  Questioning meant disloyalty—it was equated to being what my peer group called an “abuser sympathizer.” Now, I am less afraid of social repercussions because I feel so passionate about the conclusions that my research has brought me—human beings are complicated. Shame doesn’t work. Empathy does. 

Professors in the Actor Training Program would often ask us to identify our artistic voices by asking ourselves the question: 'as an artist, what do you need to say?' Through my research, I have found my artistic voice. What I believe I have to offer to the world is my passion about and belief in the power of empathy."

Published in Finer Points Blog

The College of Fine Arts is delighted to present the 2022 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award to Comstock from the Department of Art & Art History.

In 2015, The Office of Undergraduate Research established the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award to recognize an outstanding undergraduate researcher from each college. Faculty mentors are invited to nominate students, and awardees are selected by committee. The criteria for the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award include: a record of sustained commitment to developing research skills and knowledge under the supervision of a faculty mentor, evidence of independent and critical thinking, active participation in research-related activities on campus, and positive contributions to the research culture of the department, college, and university.

Comstock’s impressive accomplishments as an undergraduate researcher in the College of Fine Arts center around a commitment to creation of a body of work investigating applications of new materialism to contemporary ceramics.

In Comstock’s personal statement, they write about the impact research has had on their work as an artist, “As I was collecting my ideas and scholarly research in my thesis, every new piece I generated picked up a conceptual thread and grew upon it. I’ve found increased independence moving through my degree as a result, finding an ever-increasing clarity around a theoretical cache that all my work pulls from regardless of medium…. Everything has all become fodder within a holistic and immersive creative research process.”

Comstock presented their research titled “A Balmy Elsewhere: Manifesto for Restorative Materialism” at the 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium, and is submitting their Honors thesis in full to the Undergraduate Research Journal. Their work will also be exhibited Friday, April 22, 2022 at Studio Elevn in Salt Lake City. This summer, with support from the College of Fine Arts Dean’s Travel Fund, Comstock will present a performance piece in Berlin, Germany with artist collective Aktionskunst Park Gruppe.

In Their Own Words

Name: E.C. Comstock
Pronouns: Any Pronoun
Majors and minors: Art--Ceramics emphasis, Sculpture minor, Honors
Hometown: Boise, ID
Three words that describe you: amorphous, inquisitive, fraught
Most impactful class or professor: The most impactful class I had was Ceramic Surfaces, the level of experimentation Brian Snapp encouraged in Surfaces hugely expanded my practice and entirely shifted my approach to a far more holistic conception of form and surface. This class also introduced me to Skin: Surface, Substance + Design by Ellen Lupton which became a vital text in my thesis, and served as a formative period of bonding with my clay cohort.
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: I will never forget my first wood-firing, which was the first time I felt like I was part of something larger than myself in my program. The exchange and passing down of technical knowledge is so visible and tangible during the two-day long firing, and the sharing of food and music cements the community building that occurs while firing. 
What inspires you: I'm inspired by fringes and edges, the generative friction found when rich, differing substances meet one another or theoretical and practical approaches butt up. Bringing a lens of relational aesthetics to my everyday life has been a major source of inspiration, considering every action I make an art action and every material I handle a potential collaborator.
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: Outstanding Sculpture Student nomination, International Sculpture Center; Eccles Scholar (received Eccles full tuition scholarship through Honors College); Emma Eccles Jones Fine Arts Housing Scholarship, exhibited in Paper and Clay juried exhibition at Utah State University, Statewide Annual at the Rio Gallery, Aktionskunst Park Gruppe in Berlin, Germany; received Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program funding and a Small Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research. 

"As I was collecting my ideas and scholarly research in my thesis, every new piece I generated picked up a conceptual thread and grew upon it. I’ve found increased independence moving through my degree as a result, finding an ever-increasing clarity around a theoretical cache that all my work pulls from regardless of medium…. Everything has all become fodder within a holistic and immersive creative research process."

Published in Finer Points Blog

 The College of Fine Arts is delighted to present the 2022 Outstanding Seniors from each of our five academic units. These individuals were nominated for their academic achievements, artistic and scholarly accomplishments, and ongoing commitment to their craft. We are inspired by each of them, and look forward to witnessing the ways they continue to contribute to our community. We are honored to have shared their time here as students.

F22 Outstanding Seniors v22Alexandria Jensen
Department of Art & Art History

Pronouns: She/Her
Majored in: Art Teaching with K-12 Licensure
Hometown: Salt Lake City
Three words that describe you: Kind, Passionate, Creative
Most impactful class or professor: Beth Krensky really encouraged and inspired me throughout my time in the College of Fine Arts. The kindness and care that she radiates to all of her students is so important, and her passion for art education further reinforced my choice to be an art educator.
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: I really loved all of my studio courses throughout my time at the CFA. I was able to learn about and explore so many different mediums and develop a newfound passion for ceramics. I am really grateful to all my professors who encouraged me!
What inspires you: My students inspire me. Seeing them make discoveries and breakthroughs when exploring different artistic processes always inspires me to create and explore with my own artwork. 
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: I have accepted a position as the ceramics teacher at a school in the community I have been working with youth in for five years.

F22 Outstanding Seniors v23
Fiona Thomas

School of Dance

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Majored in: BFA in Modern Dance, Minor in Entrepreneurship 
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Three words that describe you: passionate, curious, tenderhearted
Most impactful class or professor: It feels impossible to choose the most impactful class or professor because each one has been such a tremendous part of my journey. I will say that Contemporary Views was the first class that helped me acknowledge my fears and accomplishments simultaneously. Understanding my worth and passion as an artist is the most valuable thing I have gained as a student. 
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: When I sang for Satu and Daniel's piece in the Fall Show, called 'remember everything that spring can bring (2020 Ballads)'
What inspires you: Being around others that care deeply about something, and knowing that art can make change. 
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus:

  • Volunteered with Healing in Motion Dance in 2018 and 2019
  • Taught creative dance to youth at the Utah Refugee Center at the Meadowbrook Campus site in 2019 and 2020
  • During Covid, Fiona was based in Seattle and taught a variety of classes remotely at All That Dance and at Olympic Hills, a local elementary school
  • Fiona has been a part of faculty works with Eric Handman and Daniel Clifton as well as Graduate Thesis works with Alexandra Barbier and Jessica Boone"
  • Created a collaborative work with Lia Wong to be premiered at the Spring Student Concert in February of 2020
  • Fiona has been in numerous works by fellow peers and classmates in Senior shows, Student Concerts, and Graduate shows
  • Served on student concert committee in 2020 and 2021
  • Choreographed and performed a solo this spring that her and Daniel Clifton co-created the music for, titled 'To wonder is to live. And I am the wolf'
  • This semester, Fiona is interning with Heartland, a collective directed by Molly Heller

F22 Outstanding Seniors v24

Yein Ji
Department of Film & Media Arts

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Majored in: Film & Media Arts BFA
Hometown: North Salt Lake
Three words that describe you: Dependable, Intuitive, Ambitious
Most impactful class or professor: Sonia & Miriam Albert-Sobrino. They are always full of energy and passion for filmmaking. They always make me laugh and they’re incredibly knowledgeable. Everyone in the film department knows how amazing these women are. They inspire me to work harder and create beautiful art.
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: The F&MAD Festival last spring. I got to watch and celebrate the films made by me and my talented friends. 
What inspires you: My family. They’ve always been supportive of everything I do. They’ve starred in some of my film projects and are always excited for my next creation. 
Summary of major accomplishments on or off-campus:

  • Vice President of Film Production Club
  • 2021 Queer Spectra Arts Festival Intern
  • 2 Semesters of Undergraduate Research
  • Pretty Girl film published in Undergraduate Literary Magazine
  • Cheers films showcased at Utah Arts Festival
  • Helped create 34 films
  • Directed 8 films

F22 Outstanding Seniors v25

Merinda Christensen
School of Music

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Majored in: Instrumental Performance - Harp
Hometown: West Bountiful, UT
Three words that describe you: Outgoing, Ambitious, Compassionate
Most impactful class or professor: Dr. Cathy Clayton. Cathy has been my private harp instructor over the last 4 years and welcomed me with open arms when I made my transfer from the University of Arizona to Utah. She has always been so supportive as I have found my career path and I’m grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend studying under her while here at the U. 
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: I had the most amazing opportunity to be an Emerging Leaders Intern for ArtsForce in the CFA that has really prepared and paved a path for me as I continue on with my career after graduation. The friendships and connections made while a part of ArtsForce is something I will always cherish after leaving the College of Fine Arts. 
What inspires you: I’m inspired by people that are passionate about what they do and work hard to accomplish their goals. 
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus:

  • President for the School of Music Harp Ensemble: Harps at the U of U 2019 - 2022
  • ArtsForce intern for the CFA 2020 - 2021
  • Awarded Internship of the Year with ArtsForce from the Career and Professional Development Center 2021
  • First recipient of the Music Entrepreneurship Certificate from the University of Utah School of Music 2022
  • Marketing and Communications intern for UtahPresents at Kingsbury Hall 2021 - 2022
  • Event Chair and summer intern for Women’s Artistic Leadership Initiative 2020 - 2021
  • Crimson Mentor for transfer students at the University of Utah 2020 - 2021
  • Carmen Morton Christensen scholarship recipient 2018 - 2022
  • Program Assistant for THE BLOCKS: organization under the Downtown Alliance and SLC Chamber of Commerce, offered through my internship with ArtsForce
  • Director of Development for Opera Mississippi, offered through connections made while completing the Music Entrepreneurship Certificate

F22 Outstanding Seniors v26

Danny Borba
Department of Theatre​​

Pronouns: he/him/el
Majored in: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Emphasis: Actor Training Program; Minor: Ethnic Studies
Hometown: Orem, Ut
Three words that describe you: Respectful, Determined, Outgoing
Most impactful class or professor :  This one is a hard one! So I am mentioning a couple of things: 
Andra Harbold and her wisdom regarding directing has been something that continues to bring so much joy and light into my journey as an artist and a human.
Robert Scott Smith always pushes me to be better and innovate with the art.
Nathan Brian’s belief in me as a vocalist and an artist has helped me push through tough times.
Jerry Gardner has brought me peace and inspiration through Butoh and through my interactions with him.
Sarah Shippobotham amazes me continuously with the knowledge she imparts through Shakespeare or Dialects or text work. 
All of these professors and mentors (and plenty more) have pushed me to better, while also believed in me as an individual, and have encouraged me to make the theatre arts a place of inclusion and innovation. I will forever be grateful.
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: My first ArtsBash, about 4 years ago. It was the first time performing as a U of U students, and also the first time seeing how wonderfully diverse and big the College is!
What inspires you: In a specific example, Viola Davis’ journey as an artist and a human has always given comfort and inspiration. But I also want to think about my family and God. Their support and their own stories have been critical in my growth as an artist, but also as a human being. Without them, and I mean ALL of them, I would not be who I am today, or doing what I do.
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: Not going to lie, being a part of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series was pretty amazing, and being able to intern at Pioneer Theatre was a major goal accomplished, but one thing that stands out was being able to create a BIPOC community with my friends and establish that we belong here and aren’t going anywhere has been a very important thing for me. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

College of Fine Arts Internship Coordinator Kate Wolsey has been named one of 2022's Career Champions of the Year by the University of Utah Career & Professional Development Center!

Awardees are faculty and staff who have gone above and beyond to support students in their career development. As Internship Coordinator, Kate helps connect CFA students to valuable experiential learning opportunities in the community, and career resources that will help them reach their goals. She also leads the team of ArtsForce Emerging Leaders Interns as they help students articulate the value of their degrees and transition from college to the workforce. 

One nominator wrote: 

"I have seen Kate champion each of the students she comes into contact with – providing professional connections, taking extra time to address students' specific concerns, and following up with them to see how they are progressing with their goals. Once a student has met with Kate, she is invested in their success. She still stays touch with students who have gone on to exciting professional opportunities post-graduation, continuing to cheer them on and offer lasting mentorship." 

Thank you Kate, for all you do for our students! 

Published in Finer Points Blog
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December 20 2021

We made our mark on 2021

It's the time of year for reflection, appreciation, and celebration of all that has been accomplished during the past year. 2021 was filled with highlights in the University of Utah College of Fine Arts and its five academic units. Between performances, exhibitions, guest artists, and special anniversaries, one thing is for sure – we made our mark. 

Let's take a look at the recent news and accolades! 

Department of Art & Art History

  • "Space Maker," a group exhibition at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, featured 33 faculty artists and was curated by alumna Nancy Rivera. 
  • Michelle Peterein (Assistant Professor in Graphic Design), Moses Williams (Assistant Professor in Sculpture Intermedia), and Meekyung MacMurdie (Assistant Professor in Art History) joined the faculty.
  • The Department hosted renowned visiting artists Rick Griffith, Amy Cutler, Maria Theresa Elves, and Del Harrow. 
  • Graphic Design students, led by faculty mentor Carol Sogard, hosted the Worn Again Clothing Exchange, encouraging all of campus to consider fast fashion, sustainability, and the global impacts of consumption. 
  • The Department hosted PaperWest – the 3rd National Works on Paper Juried Exhibition, showcasing contemporary works on paper by 63 artists from throughout the country.
  • Exhibitions in the Gittins Gallery, featuring student and faculty work, included: Sam Wilson's "Face It...I seem to be drawing a crowd," Sandy Brunvand's "It's Not Always Black and White," the Painting and Drawing Exhibition, Holiday Art Sale, and more. 

School of Dance 

  • In September, the College of Fine Arts celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Alice Sheets Marriott Center for Dance alongside many esteemed friends, including the Marriott family. 
  • The School welcomed new faculty members, Alexandra Barbier (Morales Fellow), Joselli Deans (Visiting Associate Professor), Cherylyn Lavagnino (Visiting Professor), and Monica Stephenson (Adjunct Assistant Professor). 
  • Students showcased their work in Fall Dance 1, Modern Student Concert, Fall Dance 2, Ballet Showcase, and the MFA candidates' production of "Coddiwomple."
  • The School of Dance hosted guest artists Dean Vollick, Ephrat Asherie, and Bashaun Williams. 

Department of Film & Media Arts

  • The Department of Film & Media Arts welcomed two new screenwriters to the faculty: Hubbel Palmer and Max Adams.
  • Students participated in the annual Pitch Competition, presenting not only ideas but also budgets, casting processes, and production plans. 
  • The second drive-in F&MAD Festival shared student films with a public audience who tuned in from their individual vehicles. 
  • Award-winning filmmaker and photographer Robert Machoian visited campus. 

School of Music 

  • Dozens of recitals were livestreamed via Live at Libby, the School's YouTube channel, showcasing the work of undergraduate and graduate musicians. 
  • The School of Music welcomed Dr. Rebekah Daniel as Visiting Director of Wind Ensemble, and Dr. Stephanie DeLuca as Assistant Director of Athletic Bands. 
  • Students had the opportunity to work with guest artists Vadim Guzman, Kyle Johnson, Boris Berman, Lauren Hunt, Tyler Nelson, Cecily Ward, and more. 
  • The new Electroacoustic Ensemble was formed. 
  • The School established a new Certificate of Entrepreneurship for Musicians, to prepare students with critical skills in finance, management, and entrepreneurship. 

Department of Theatre

College of Fine Arts

  • Arts Pass Dash gave University of Utah students the opportunity to learn about the arts on campus (and the Arts Pass program!) at 16 selected locations, where they could enter to win wonderful prizes! 
  • The annual CFA Gala 2021 showcased student work, celebrated scholarship recipients, honored Distinguished Alumni Tina Misaka, Tyler Nelson, and Lee Isaac Chung.  
  • ArtsForce provided opportunities for students to gain insight into the professional world: Career Treks, conversations with alumni on Instagram Live, interviews with professionals on ArtsForce Asks, and more!
  • The College welcomed 3 student representatives on the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee in an effort to further serve and provide important perspectives to the student population. 

Here's to a fantastic 2022!

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Cayden Turnbow 

A few weeks ago, ArtsForce led a Career Trek offering a behind-the-scenes look at the one and only Impatient Cow Productions! The largest career trek to date went as follows; an overview of what Inpatient Cow Productions is and what they do, a deep dive into the post production workflow for a typical client, a tour of the production spaces available there, and then a debrief at Publik Coffee.

Getting to see what the day-to-day actually looks like in a production house gives students an idea of what to expect post graduation.

The goal of this trek was to instill in students the importance of internships especially within in the arts and the give them an up close look at the day to day of a production studio. “[Internships] in film can teach you a lot of important things that aren't always taught in the classroom,” said Jackie Bohn, one of the students who attended the trek. While going to school can provide you with opportunities to develop your craft and meet like minded people, internships like the ones provided at ICP give students real world experience that cannot be replicated in a classroom.

Getting to see what the day to day actually looks like in a production house gives students an idea of what to expect post graduation. One of Kyle Pflieger’s takeaways from the trek had to do with “the breadth of work they engage in, and the ‘jack-of-all-trades' nature most of the employees have.” This seemed like a typical expectation of employees at a production house like ICP.

“This was my first time being in a film production studio and I liked how cozy and fun the atmosphere was,” said Sandy Detweiler. Not all of the students who attended this trek were film majors, a variety of arts students were able to discover the multitude of possibilities that come with a career in film.

Overall, ICP was a memorable experience to say the least, if there is one thing you should take away from our visit it should be “work hard and take advantage of internships!” noted Lana Ballenot.

We hope you can join ArtsForce for our career treks, and the 9th Annual Networking Event in the spring.
Stay tuned for more information about those events!

Published in Finer Points Blog

Graphic Design students in the Sustainable Design Practice led by faculty advisor Carol Sogard, are learning about the environmental impacts of design practice and the problems that arise from manufacturing, consumption, and disposal. They address sustainability-focused societal challenges by applying their creative skills to community-based projects.

On December 8, at the Worn Again Clothing Exchange, they are encouraging the entire campus to join them in taking action.

The Worn Again Clothing Exchange offers all participants an alternative to buying new clothing. Participants can exchange their unwanted clothing items with other donated pre-loved items at this event. Bring clothes, take clothes – it’s all free! The result? Limit fast fashion, extend the lives of great clothing items, and build awareness about the global environmental impacts of the fashion industry. For those that want to participate but not exchange, clothing donation bins are located around campus to accept contributions prior to the event. After the exchange is over, the remaining clothing will be donated to various local charities. 


“We decided the best way to get people thinking about how they consume their fashion is to rethink the whole process of purchasing. That led us to this event where no money would be exchanged, and everything will be reused. In the end, when you talk about what you can do as a consumer, the best thing is to slow down your consumption.”

Students began the Worn Again project by researching fashionrevolution.org, a non-profit that investigates environmental, social, and ethical issues in the fashion industry. After reflecting on their fashion consumption habits, and learning about the environmental impacts of fast fashion, many realized that they often purchased much more than they needed, wore, or loved. This experience served as the inspiration for the creation of a used clothing exchange for the campus community.

“This project is entirely student-run,” Sogard said. “They take full ownership of the event and determine how it is designed and executed.”

Student designers were divided into teams to develop the event concept and name, brand identity and guidelines, public relations, advertising, event signage/design, social media marketing, and affiliated educational exhibit designs.  “The students have designed cases in the Marriott Library to create awareness around the dangers associated with the way we consume our fashion,” Sogard explained. These exhibits will be open for public viewing on December 1st on the 1st and 2nd floors of the Marriott Library. 

“We decided the best way to get people thinking about how they consume their fashion is to rethink the whole process of purchasing,” Sogard said. “That led us to this event where no money would be exchanged, and everything will be reused. In the end, when you talk about what you can do as a consumer, the best thing is to slow down your consumption.”

For many students on a limited budget, thrifting is not only wallet-friendly, but it is also a sustainable choice. And at this event, they might just find a totally new wardrobe without spending a dime.

“The big thing with sustainable design practice is to get students to connect with a subject they are passionate about, and for a lot of them, that is fashion.”

Worn Again
December 8, 2021
10 AM – 4 PM Gould Auditorium, Marriott Library
+ more locations!

Stay up to date and get educated!
Follow @uofu_wornagain on Instagram.

Student Designers:
Piper Armstrong, Jessica Allred, James Carlson, Sydney Figgat, Derek Gardiner, Mina Gedeon, Alexa Jones, Grey Larson, Deana Melchior, Jasmin Nguyen, Taylor Schwendiman, Neil Sodja, Morgan Talbot, Karly Tingey

Campus Partner:
Marriott Library, Ian Godfrey, Michael Bigler

Published in Finer Points Blog

Next up in the School of Dance 2021/22 season lineup is Fall Dance II, which presents premier works by faculty members Melissa Bobick, Molly Heller, Alexandra Barbier, Satu Hummasti and Daniel Clifton, along with guest artist Ephrat Asherie.

“Their works are realized through and showcase dancers in the School of Dance at the University from both the Modern Dance Program and Ballet Program,” concert director and assistant professor, Daniel Clifton noted.

Fall Dance II historically provides a feast of dance varieties, highlighting the deeply diverse talent and professionalism of the School of Dance students, as well as an opportunity to work with an esteemed guest choreographer in the field. In the case of Fall Dance II, that guest artist is Ephrat Asherie, artistic director of Ephrat Asherie Dance, a dance company rooted in African American and Latinx street and social dances and based in New York City.

“Together, the choreographers and dancers have spent many hours in the studio creating dances that celebrate creativity, physicality, humanity, and the quest to discover more about ourselves, each other, and the world around us,” added Clifton. 

From the Choreographers

HYPE — Alexandra Barbier
Juxtaposing fun, playfulness, and humor with poise, attitude, and confidence, this piece represents Alex’s childhood dream of being one of the “Big Six” 90s supermodels. She has created this work alongside deeper research into voguing and drag ball culture, and thanks the queer communities of color who established “Supermodel Realness” as an art form.  

Precipice — Melissa Bobick
In her new work entitled, Precipice, Melissa Bobick returns to the classical ballet vernacular to create a contemporary ballet piece that explores the emotional nuance felt when it is time to set aside something familiar. Through dynamic interplay and the relationships established between the trio of dancers, she paints a picture of the active choice of stepping away, releasing, or shedding that which is known. Sometimes that is the only way we can see what comes next.    

Spells — Molly Heller
Spells cycles through states of dedication, ongoingness, and "pouring your heart out." This trio attunes to collective and individual fervor while revealing the relationship between lighting and magic making, choreographer and performer, and audience and performance.

remember everything that spring can bring (2020 Ballads) — Satu Hummasti & Daniel Clifton2020
Ballads is based on specific memories from the first month of lockdown, gathered from all of the collaborators involved. Memories were crafted into short ballads composed by Daniel Clifton, which are sung by other dance artists in the School of Dance. “Ballads” is a series of solos, that function as memories, glimpses, photos, fragments, brief snapshots into the collective past of Spring 2020, when the world shut down and we were left in a surreal state of suspension.

out-side-in — Ephrat Asherie,Guest Artist 
The pandemic was marked by immense moments of loss, reckoning, self-reflection, introspection, and mountains of other emotions, actions and reactions. How we see ourselves, see ourselves in each other, care for each other and thrive together became precious questions for many. This piece reflects on our hopes of moving, uniting, inspiring, breathing and making art together.  

The Details

Fall Dance 2 runs for two weeks.

Showtimes are:
Nov. 4 at 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

To purchase tickets for the in-person performance, visit tickets.utah.edu. Free for University of Utah students with a valid UCard through the Arts Pass program.
Patrons can also stream the performance live for free. 

For more information on the School of Dance or its concerts, please visit: dance.utah.edu.

Published in Finer Points Blog

Calling all College of Fine Arts Students!

 Screen Shot 2021 11 02 at 11.57.28 AM

Did you know you can learn about the internship experiences of students just like you on our series, Insights from an Intern?? Students from across the five academic units of Art & Art History, Dance, Film & Media Arts, Music, and Theatre share where they interned, the connections they made, skills they gained, and advice for students looking for a similar experience. It is definitely worth checking out if you are thinking about adding an internship to your goals this year. 

And now, ArtsForce is taking this conversation live! 
FAA Jordan Boge
This Friday, you can tune into Instagram Live for a real-time chat with Department of Film & Media Arts alumnus, Jordan Boge. Jordan's internships include CNN, Participant in LA, and HLN in NYC, to name a few. Since graduating with his MFA, he now works in marketing for Turner Classic Movies, a division of WarnerMedia. He is also serving as a Fine Arts Ambassador for the College of Fine Arts. 

So make your lunch break count! Come get some practical tips about how to be prepared for the professional world.

ArtsForce Instagram Live with Jordan Boge
Friday, November 5
12:00 p 

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By Kira Sincock 

Sonali Loomba had no idea what she was going to do when she moved to Utah from India in 2017.

Performing kathak at prestigious festivals across the nation and starting a dance school was certainly not what she had planned. Kathak is one of India’s 8 classical dances, composed of an amalgamation of music, dance, and drama to tell stories of epics, myths, and legends. Sonali is a kathakaar, or story teller, for these tales and does so through her dance.

Sonali had been practicing kathak in India since 2006. She initially thought she might teach yoga in Utah, as she was trained in that as well. Sonali was shocked when a Russian student approached her, seeking to be taught kathak. With this being a new country, she wasn’t sure if people would even want to learn an Indian classical art. Her excitement with a non-Indian student’s interest, paired with the opportunity to keep in touch with her art form, is what drove her to open up her dance to community members. Through offering classes and performances, the community was able to recognize her art. Sonali registered Kaladharaa Dance School in 2018, establishing herself as the first kathak school in Utah.

For me, Sonali was interesting because of the rich impact she has made on the community with her art within such a short period of time. My experience chatting with Sarah Longoria last year sparked an interest in me learning about more peripheral forms of art that aren’t typically thought of or recognized. From her, I felt I could learn about what it is like to bring an art form to a place that might not be as familiar with it, and how an artist can adapt and create opportunities to be successful while pursuing their passion.

“To bring kathak to a place where it never existed – I never imagined that would happen to me, and it continues to be very rewarding.”

Many Indian-Americans of the younger generation in Utah have never visited India, lost touch with their original culture, or know very little about where they come from. Additionally, many adults in India were never allowed to pursue the art form due to marriage, children, and caring for the family taking precedence, paired with the overall stigma around art. With an influx of people from both groups approaching her, she was motivated to not just teach her art form, but also educate them on the culture. Sonali said, “To bring kathak to a place where it never existed – I never imagined that would happen to me, and it continues to be very rewarding.” Because the culture in Utah is so different from that of India’s, she has had to adapt her teaching style. She has pivoted to make her art form easy for people to learn simply. “It is okay if you don’t perfect kathak, as long as you are performing kathak,” she said.

The importance of educating people on kathak is not limited to her specific community. Sonali says she often has to remind herself that she isn’t in India and that when she is representing an art form, she is representing a culture, and strives to do it right. The audience typically thinks kathak is just another beautiful art form on stage, and isn’t aware of the history and evolution behind it. She said that it is never the audience’s problem for not understanding the art, but rather the artist’s. It was interesting to hear her debunk that mindset, as a lot of artists will be confused when their art isn’t well received. How can positive reception be expected without the necessary context? Through educating the audience, Sonali said.

To create a more engaging performance, Sonali will give a brief introduction on kathak to discuss India, its history, and heritage. This illustrates the effort put into what is being performed for the audience. To take engagement even further, Sonali will have a portion where she makes the audience dance and teaches them footwork to further give them a sense of the many hours it takes to perform kathak. When the audience is left thinking more deeply about kathak, they will be more inclined to seek out more information about it. This curiosity increases tolerance, Sonali said. Her goal is to get people more involved because then, there is an exchange of culture. “If it is just Indians learning kathak, it isn’t going anywhere.” 

Education isn’t limited to the performers or audience. Sonali also said education is key in grantwriting. Currently serving on the Salt Lake City Arts Council board, she now has dual perspectives of both a grant applicant and reviewer. Educating the board on what you do and why it will benefit the community is essential, especially when the board might not have any background information on your craft. The more you can illustrate how your work will engage the community and present diversity and inclusivity will serve to be a stronger application.

kira sonali af asksSonali Loomba with Kira Sincock | Courtesy Kira Sincock

Through the different ways Sonali goes about educating people on kathak, I quickly learned how adaptable of a person she was. This flexibility is key in the success she has had, and she illustrated how vital of a skill that was for artists. Because Sonali is the only one actively teaching kathak in Utah, it is easy for her to run out of ideas. Collaboration has not only helped her grow as an artist, but has also served as a venue to make kathak appealing to foreign audiences and younger generations. On that note, getting involved in the local community to seek out those collaborations and connections has helped her flourish. Opportunities have come to her through those efforts, and she has been able to bring opportunity to those she has connected with. It is a two way street. Sonali said, “It is always important to show up and support your friends and community, even if you aren’t actively participating.”

Why should students care about making an impact on the community? Why should students educate the audience on their art? Sonali recounted her experience performing at the Living Traditions Festival. With so many artists performing, it is easy to blend in and just be one amongst the artists. “What is your intention going on stage, what are you trying to communicate to the audience through your act, why are you amongst the 10 dancers on stage trying to perform?” Sonali said. If you want to make an impact, you must get inclusive and include the community in your art form.

ArtsForce Takeaways:

  • Every individual has something unique to bring to their community, and the community gets stronger through this diversity.

  • There are innumerable art forms that exist beyond the specific boxes we know as art.

  • Be intentional with why you do art to create a more meaningful experience for not only your audience, but also yourself.

Author Kira Sincock is an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce. She is studying Game Art within the Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, with a minor in Drawing in the Department of Art & Art History. 

Published in Finer Points Blog