The University of Utah Department of Modern Dance Blog

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Alumni Profile :: Michael O'Connor

Photo: Georg Scheu

Michael O'Connor is a choreographer, performer, improviser and teacher. Since 2007 he has been based in Vienna, Austria. He worked with cie. Willi Dorner from 2003-2010 and performed and assisted in creating the work 'Bodies in Urban Spaces' worldwide in over 30 cities.  His Deborah Hay adaptation of 'NEWS' was presented at ImpulsTanz festival and he was part of David Zambrano's 'Tierras Enamorades' which was presented in Bruxelles.  He was listed in BalletTanz Magazine as the 'young dancer to watch' in 2008 for his piece 'a waiting dog dies.'  Additionally, his own work has been supported through residencies at ImpulsTanz with the guidance of Keith Hennessy and Ivo Dimchev, leading to works 'You are the Subject of my Seeing' and 'A General Theory of Love.'  His work looks at the intersection of cognitive science and dance, and he is currently furthering this practice with the support of the MA Choreography program at the Amsterdam University of the Arts with the mentorship of Guy Cools.  Michael has been guest artist faculty at Arizona State University twice and has taught at ImpulsTanz, SNDO, SEAD, TanzQuartier Wien and with festivals like DanceUmbrella: London, Tanz im August: Berlin and Philly Live Arts:Philadelphia. He is also a Fieldwork facilitator who helps guide artists in methods of feedback.  He has been able to develop Fieldwork in Vienna as an established program as well as bring this method to Istanbul, Turkey in 2012. Since his time at the University of Utah, Michael has been a proponent of art as research, and he is currently interested in love-empathy-metaphor as a triad that when approached from a cognitive science perspective, can possibly address ontological questions of body, relationship and environment as a performance practice.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

UK Exchange & Ugurt

Before moving to Salt Lake City Modern Dance Assistant Professor Shaun Boyle spent three years in England studying, teaching and making dance. While an undergraduate student at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts she danced in Austria at the Salzburg Academy of Dance for a semester. These international dance experiences inspired her to think about dance on the international stage. “I want to create forums for international collaboration.” Shaun explained to me when we met. "How do we exchange dance across borders and nations?"

Shaun has collaborated with Janet Smith, Principal of The Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) in Leeds, England to build one such forum for dance exchange. The exchange is for 12 undergraduate dancers; six dancers from NSCD and six from the University of Utah’s Department of Modern Dance. The UK dancers will travel to Salt Lake City for Salt Dance Fest, and our dancers will travel to NSCD in the beginning of July for two weeks. The dancers have already begun connecting via Facebook and are looking forward to meeting in person soon.

Assistant Professor Shaun Boyle (left) & University of Utah dancers

“The NSCD is a good fit for the U because of their cutting edge, forward-thinking movement invention.” Shaun told me. She explained that in England dancers don’t know much about the emerging choreographers we are interested in at the U and vice versa. “This is a chance to broaden perspectives for students on our side of the pond and on their side of the pond.”


Support the UK Exchange by eating at Ugurt this weekend. Friday, April 18 from 6 pm – 12:00 am, Saturday, April 19 from 6 pm – 12:00 am. 20% of all proceeds will go to support the Exchange. The UK Exchange also has an online fundraiser here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Humans of the MCD :: Abby Fiat

"Sometimes the things that are the most vulnerable can be the most empowering."

Modern Dance Professor Abby Fiat has an uncanny ability to get to the heart of something in just a few simple words. In this installment of Humans of the MCD Allison and Abby talk about dance, pedagogy, and the U.

"I love to teach personally, I love to watch teaching, I love to think about it, I love to talk about it. It's been a real passion for me for many, many years, and I knew at a young age that I loved teaching." 

Full interview here.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Screendance Pick of the Month

During my recent interview of Ellen Bromberg she agreed to launch a new blog series highlighting one of her passions; Screendance. For her inaugural Screendance Pick of the Month Ellen has selected Dom Svobode by Thierry De Mey.

"This section (an excerpt from a longer film) directed by Belgian filmmaker and composer Thierry de Mey, demonstrates site, sound, camera (gravity at play), editing  and extreme risk possible only on screen."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Humans of the MCD :: Brian Nelson

In the third installment of Humans of the MCD Allison tracked down busy sophomore Brian Nelson; the MCD's one and only double modern and ballet major. Beautiful, interesting interview. Don't miss! 

"My favorite piece to be a part of was Jay Kim's piece for Utah Ballet... he definitely had an idea as a choreographer and he came in every day with material for us but at the same time it felt like a collaboration... My favorite one to watch was honestly, every time I see a show by the Modern Dept I get so jealous that I haven't done any rep like that because it's just so fun to watch how free people move. When I saw Eric's piece for PDC last year [Disappearing Days] I started to cry because I couldn't imagine moving like that ever, and that made me feel very trapped in my body and sad..." 

Full interview here: 

Photo Credit : Allison Shir

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Humans of the MCD :: Glenda Staples

"I love the students. When I watch them I just feel like 'Wow, look at how successful they are at what they're doing!' I love that feeling." 

In the second installment of Humans of the MCD Allison Shir interviews Glenda Staples, the MCD's Administrative Officer and mom-away-from-home. 

Full interview:
Humans of the MCD :: Glenda Staples

Photo Credit: Florian Alberge

Humans of the MCD :: Allison Shir

The Marriott Center for Dance (MCD) is full of people with interesting stories and unique perspectives on what it means to be a dancer. Inspired by Humans of New York we're beginning our own storytelling project - Humans of the MCD. 

Today's human is Allison Shir, first year graduate student in Modern Dance. Most recently from Tel Aviv, she talks about her touring job with The Aluminum Show, creating your own opportunities, and a few other stories of life as a modern dancer.

"I was really influenced by the mentality in Israel, I was influenced by how I was surviving; how I worked, how I got around on my bicycle, how I managed with learning the language... the food, the sea - I lived very close to the sea."


Full interview:
Humans of the MCD : Allison Shir


Photo: Rob Tennant