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Finding A Voice Through Movement

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Coming from two different parts of the world, a pair of dance graduate students collaborated to create a visualization of their individual theses.

The University of Iowa Dance Department will present Tracing. Imprinting. Being. at 8:00 p.m. today in Space/Place, which features the works of MFA graduate students Ashley Bassett and Angella Bettina Carlos.

The recital will comprise four works, “Filtered,” “The Question of How,” “Forward — Rewind,” and “2nd ——.”

Originally from the Philippines, Carlos wanted to continue honing her performance skills after graduating from University of the Philippines Diliman. With limited options to do so in her home country, the university offered her a fellowship to further her studies.

Since then, Carlos has become engrossed with the community of dancers and the manner in which they routinely challenge her artistry.

“The thing I really like about this community is that it fosters discourse among students, the faculty, and other artists,” she said. “We’re challenged to think critically on both our technique classes and theory classes. There’s always a dialogue happening in class, and then we are encouraged to contribute creative ideas in rehearsal. We’re also provided a lot of opportunities to learn from various artists in the professional dance field.”

Carlos said she was able to find her voice while assembling the concert with Bassett.

“I’m a performance track, so I tend to just perform in other people’s works,” she said. “This time around, I have the opportunity to contribute, make decision, and play more than the performer role. This is more of my aesthetic or my style.”

Developing a majority of her skills in another state, Bassett received a B.A. in dance from the Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Afterwards, she pursued a professional dance career in Pittsburgh.

She eventually decided to attend the UI based on the recommendation of her mentor.

“The dance community challenges me in intellectual ways where I must conduct research prior to the creation process,” Bassett said. “I also have many collaborative opportunities to have my own voice heard as a performer and creator.”

Her main inspiration for the choreography, she said, “was to find other methodologies that would foster my curiosity to develop my artistic voice.”

Alvon Reed, a theater and dance faculty member from Cornell College, contributed his choreography skills to “2nd ——,” which blends the genres of hip-hop and house. The choreography primarily explores the themes of privilege and the mistreatment of African Americans.

“People are dancing to create an atmosphere of hope, love, and understanding,” Reed said. “I’m hopeful people will enjoy dance, because dance is something that connects with people. It engages the body in dynamic ways.”

He hopes audience members will respond well to the welcoming environment, he said.

“We all bring a wonderful perspective to the piece,” Reed said. “We come into the space, and we are open and receptive. Having the opportunity to work with Ashley and Abbey has been a rewarding process.”

With the performance near, Bassett said she was excited about the various ways the audience will interpret the concert.

“I really enjoy hearing what the audience has taken away from the performance,” she said. “I really love when work just speaks for itself. I totally respect when choreographers want their audience to know exactly what’s going on, so they’ll put a little description in the program. But for me and my personal choice, I’m always interested to see what they take away from it with fresh eyes and no context attached to it.”

When: 8:00 p.m., tonight – Saturday
Where: Space Place Theater
Admission: free