DanceMakers ready to take stage

A dancer and choreographer in rehearsals
Dancer Carla Rodriguez (left) and choreographer Nicole Jordan go through final rehearsals for DanceMakers (photo by Arianna Watkins)

"You'll see what dance can be"

Nov. 16, 2022 – DENTON – The seven works that will take the stage in the Fall 2022 edition of DanceMakers combine themes of technology, relationships and emerging from difficult times to push conventional concepts of dance beginning Thursday at Margo Jones Performance Hall.

"If you're not familiar with contemporary or modern dance, I think you'll see what dance can be that is unusual and you haven't seen before," said Sarah Gamblin, TWU dance professor and producer of DanceMakers. "It might take a while to process it. But just like visual artists and musical artists, we dance artists are always trying to create new things and play with our materials and experiment, find new meanings and new ways of working.

"You may see dances that are more familiar, that have high jumps and leaps, or you may see some dances that are very unusual. You may notice that you've been watching this whole spectacle of dancing bodies, but that a different kind of effect is coming out of it, like a new idea feeling about relationships that you hadn't noticed before."

Buy DanceMakers tickets

There is not a single unified theme running through the works, which were choreographed by six TWU dance graduate students and guest artist and TWU alumna Sara Tran. There is, however, an overtone of the dark times the world has endured during the pandemic years.

"That's reflective of what's going on," Gamblin said. "We weren't picking pieces because of darkness. We were picking pieces that might have potential impact on the audience because the audience can relate to the dancers."

One element employed by multiple works is the introduction of technology into dance. Several works that tried out for DanceMakers included some element of screen dancing, which is dancing choreographed to be on camera, either live or recorded. Two such works made it to DanceMakers.

"That video image is going on the screen as part of the composition," Gamblin said. "There's a geometric pattern to it. It's very interesting, and we're proud of that."

A cast of 32 dancers were selected by the choreographers to fulfill their visions. The dancers range from grad students to freshmen, and the individual companies run from 11 dancers in Sarah Tran's "Humanoid" to an 11-minute solo performance by Raechel Corey in Sumi Srikanth's "Shakuntala's Plea."

"I felt like our students were really ambitious this year," Gamblin said. "I feel like there's a sense of drive and desire to accomplish and achieve. They seem like they're bolder. Their boldness is coming back, and it's really, really beautiful."

Here's a look at each of the works in DanceMakers:

Living in a Masc

Choreographer Tate Navarro

Dancers Shelby Bennett, Bailey Burgess, Ashley Fanning, Daniel Garcia, Lorena Guajardo, Julia Rist, Kiara Taylor

Gamblin: "Tate is exploring gender identity, but from a sort of unique perspective as a straight male. But he's looking at his expression of masculinity and trying to ask questions about what is masculinity. And yet he's working with female dancers. And so they're asking questions about masculinity and sort of abstracting the qualities and then reassembling them in this dance that's very dark and very aggressive and very strange and very, very interesting. We thought that would be super intriguing and kind of a mind blower for the audience."

Light Pouring Over

Choreographer Nicole Jordan

Dancers Alejandra Acosta-Munoz, Dani Bogle, Taylin Johnson, Asiyah Martin, Carla Rodriguez, Destanie White, Mora Williams

Gamblin: "It's a striking group of African-American dancers who are really, really beautiful movers, highly skillful and moving through space, and they're working with a movement vocabulary that's sort of relaxed and open and lyrical. It's very lovely."

Shakuntala's Plea

Choreographer Sumi Srikanth

Dancer Raechel Corey

Gamblin: "A unique telling of the story of Shakuntala, which is a story from Sumi's tradition in Abhijnanasakuntalam. But Sumi has taken the story and come to a contemporary dance perspective that has some really unique and interesting movement vocabulary and an amazing dancer, Raechel Corey. This is amazing."

With Undivided Awareness

Choreographer Christina McKinney

Dancers Faith Boose, Amanda Laabs, Ilse Mascorro, Gracie Sedach

Gamblin: "This one is with cameras and dancers holding cameras, and there's a quadruple screen. It's split into four panels. A screen image. But it's like more abstract. They're helping the audience see the movement from different perspectives, which I think is really beautiful."


Choreographer Katie Gutmann

Dancers T'Keyah Cleveland, Daniel Garcia

Gamblin: "This a beautiful duet using video. Images of the dancers on screen interact with the dancers on stage. And it has a lot of relationship quality."


Choreographer IDC-Sarah Tran

Dancers Alejandra Acosta-Munoz, Cadence Banks, Emily Boyd, Holly Griffin, Victoria Hicks, Esmeralda Ledesma, Kyndel (Elle) Lee, Alexy Quiroga, Makayla Rosenberger, Julia Rist, Kiara Taylor

Gamblin: "Sara is a choreographer of Transcend Motion Dance Company. This dance is a really interesting take on robots and contemporary dance."


Choreographer Daniel Garcia

Dancers Ashley Fanning, Emily Fulwood, Kylah Holt, Arturo Leos, Ilse Mascorro, Lillian Miller

Gamblin: "It's got amazing craft development, abstraction in a way that creates a new world that you feel like you've never been in before. It's just really beautiful. There's masterful choreography in that dance."

Fall 2022 DanceMakers

Dates and Times:

  • Thursday, Nov. 17, 4 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m.

Location: Margo Jones Performance Hall

Tickets: $7 general admission, on sale online


Buy DanceMakers tickets

Media Contact

David Pyke
Digital Content Manager

Page last updated 10:14 AM, November 16, 2022