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4 dancers selected to represent ASU at regional conference

Four Arizona State University dance students  Kyla Kabat, Isabella Lepp, Karla Marquez and Fernanda Viera — have been chosen to represent ASU at the 2022 American College Dance Association (ACDA) regional conference, which will be held at the University of Oregon starting March 23. The conference brings students and faculty together to share responses to choreography and performance. 

Karla Marquez and Fernanda Viera perform “Declaración.” Viera and Marquez are two of four dance students selected to represent ASU at the American College Dance Association regional conference. Photo by Tim Trumble

Below, the four dancers selected, all students in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, talk about what drew them to ASU and what they’ll be performing at the conference. They also share their advice for potential dance students at ASU.

Karla Marquez, junior BFA dance education major

Question: Tell us about yourself and why you came to ASU.

Answer: I am a Mexican American, first-generation college student. I came to ASU in order to fulfill a dream of mine that has always been in my heart, which is to honor my mother’s sacrifice of coming to a new country in order to provide better opportunities for her children. ASU has fostered many amazing dancers, and to be able to grow in this particular college program is truly an honor.

Q: What choreographic work are you bringing to ACDA?

A: I will be taking “Declaración,” a piece I choreographed alongside my friend Fernanda Viera. It is all about breaking down barriers and expectations through the means of hip-hop.

Q: What are you looking forward to at the conference?

A: I am looking forward to being able to interact and meet with dancers from other colleges. There is always something to learn from someone, whether it’s through dance or conversation. As Professor “House” Magana, (clinical assistant professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre) always says, “We must visit other villages in order to help our own village grow!”

Q: What advice do you have for potential ASU dance students?

A: The best advice I could give a potential ASU dance student is to walk in confidence, knowing that they are worthy of being there. As a hip-hop mover, I felt really out of place due to my own insecurities. It all changed the moment I decided to fully embrace who I am and the power there is in that. Growth only comes when you have already established the foundation of who you are.

Fernanda Viera, junior BFA in dance education major

Q: Tell us about yourself and why you came to ASU.

A: I’m from San Luis, Arizona, a small town where we didn’t have many resources for dance. My high school teacher was amazing; she helped me feel confident and be myself. I knew I wanted to be able to pursue dance as a job, so I did some research and I heard ASU had a great program. So I applied, I did my audition and I got in. After college, I would like to go back to my hometown and give back to my community, to teach and to create.

Q: What choreographic work are you bringing to ACDA?

A: Karla and I are bringing “Declaración.” We actually felt we had performed this piece too many times, but our professors remembered it and proposed the idea of us going, and we got in. The piece is about having our voices heard and being ourselves in the community. I feel like people heard, and we are excited about performing it again. But it was a shock when Professor House Magana said, “Pack your bags! You’re going.”

Q: What are you looking forward to at the conference?

A: There will be college and university students from dance programs coming together for conferences, classes, performances, socializing and getting feedback from adjudicators. It’s just a great time for the dance community to come together and celebrate dance.

Q: What advice do you have for potential ASU dance students?

A: Go for it! Don’t be intimidated when you see dancers at different levels. Don’t be afraid. And remember that you can have a job in dance. I’m so grateful to my parents for being supportive. They wanted me to get a degree, and I’m really grateful they supported me choosing dance.

Kyla Kabat, sophomore BFA dance major

Q: Tell us about yourself and why you came to ASU.

A: I am also in the Barrett Honors College and working toward a minor in business. I'm originally from Algonquin, Illinois, and have been dancing for as long as I can remember. I danced at a competitive studio back in my hometown and was also captain of my high school dance team. What brought me to ASU was the community of the dance program and how welcomed I felt in a profession that is usually very competitive. Compared to the other schools I visited, ASU made me feel as though the students and faculty would be able to support my artistry and help me grow into who I want to be coming out of college.

Q: What choreographic work are you bringing to ACDA?

A: The work is titled "Toxic Love" and is inspired by the dance styles of contemporary and hip-hop. This piece is about a negative relationship, whether it's romantic, friendship or family, and how it can impact people around you, your environment and your own personal state. The word "toxic" used to refer to negative relationships is manipulated into an apocalyptic form in this piece to show how it tears everything apart. What I want the audience to take away from seeing this piece is that you can grow from every experience, and every interaction can be learned from.

Q: What are you looking forward to at the conference?

A: I am looking forward to taking classes from people I have never learned from before and coming back to Arizona with more knowledge and tools to implement into my future work. I'm looking forward to meeting other choreographers from around the country and making new connections. Lastly, I'm looking forward to seeing all of my dancers perform and to see how this work has developed compared to our first performance in November.

Q: What advice do you have for potential ASU dance students?

A: Some advice that I would give someone who is considering the dance program is to get involved in as many things as possible. Create your own work, create work with others, audition for pieces, perform in shows and attend classes. Every experience is a steppingstone in where you will end up in this career.

Isabella Lepp, MFA dance student

Q: Tell us about yourself and why you came to ASU.

A: I am a graduate dance student in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. I graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in dance at the height of the pandemic and came to ASU to further my education while the performing industry was shut down.

Q: What choreographic work are you bringing to ACDA?

A: I will be presenting a self-choreographed, self-performed work created as a response to the experience of performers during the pandemic titled “Are We Having Fun Yet?” It’s a play on how much dread was surrounding society during the pandemic — performers were isolated and my work reflects that.

Q: What are you looking forward to at the conference?

A: I’ve previously attended ACDA in a different region, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the conference has evolved since then to reflect the current state of the dance world. The networking and learning opportunities presented at ACDA are unique, and I am excited to see what new information I can bring home with me.

Q: What advice do you have for potential ASU dance students?

A: Consider how the university can help you reach your goals. Think of your interview with the school as a date, where both parties want to get to know each other. It's not one-sided. The ASU dance program gives students support, but also leaves enough space to explore your personal interests. Start creating a list of intriguing topics and ideas now. Anything can happen here if you are ready to put in the work.

lhalm@asu.edu