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Graduating dancer uses artistry to impact society


May 10, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

Erika Moore graduates with her MFA in dance this week. And she has no intention of slowing down after the ceremony. ASU dance MFA student Erika Moore Erika Moore. Photo by Focus First Photography Download Full Image

“I am an artist, arts administrator, arts advocate and arts entrepreneur,” Moore said. “My plans are to continue to make impactful works of art, support the administration of artists and arts and culture, advocate and create programs, launch business ventures and capitalize on opportunity that exists today and will be there in the future.” 

Moore realized the power art after learning about legislation that passed in Arizona on her birthday in 2010.

“HB 2281, a bill that bans ethnic studies in the State of Arizona, was passed in response to the Mexican American Studies program in Tucson, and I was outraged at the language of the bill and the fact that it passed through legislation,” she said.

Moore said she discovered most people were unaware of the bill and gave little thought to the effects it had on Arizona schools, so she decided to explore how her artistry could make an impact on social, political and educational issues such as HB 2281.

“The bill provided a way in to work with dancers and the audience in exploring the cause and effects of its passing and the intra and inter-personal effects it has on people and the overall community — this touches on the social, political and educational climate we live in and have been a part of for centuries.”

Moore says she is an artist first, and everything she does and will do will be from the perspective of an artist, and that through working on the project, she realized just how far that perspective can go.

“In the beginning, I wanted to be an executive director of a performing arts organization, a non-practicing but participatory artist. These experiences and many others helped me see that it was the least that I could do,” she said. “My perspective of my position in the arts changed.”

Moore answered some questions about her time at ASU. 

Question:  What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I loved the work I was doing but missed the arts greatly. I went on a mission trip to Brazil and Argentina with Experience Arts School, and when I saw the need for art facilitators, globally, I began to think about my place in the arts. I later participated in Valley del Sol African American Leadership Institute, where I attended the Black Philanthropy in the Arts event. Prominent women of color were represented on the panel and I thought to myself, I can do that too. I met with Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director of ASU Gammage, and got plugged into ASU Gammage after I was accepted in the MFA program.

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: I believed that ASU would give me the freedom I wanted to explore (innovate); they also had a great GA program to help decrease the amount of money needed for graduate school. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? 

A: It is ok to not have everything figured out. Explore. Take risks — in order to go somewhere you’ve never gone before, you have to do something you never did. Kiss fear goodbye and be courageous! 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: Does King Coffee count? It's across the street. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? 

A: I would not use it to solve a problem, I would use it to build more capital to have a larger pool of funding available to address multiple problems. 

Sarah A. McCarty

Communications and marketing coordinator, School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute

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