ASU Gammage helps connect local dance students with mentors
Gabriel Lopez fell in love with dance for the same reason most artists do — the intoxicating and liberating form of self-expression tells a story that words cannot.
The 18-year-old dancer had the rare opportunity to be mentored by the director of one of the most sought-after Cuban dance companies with a growing international profile, Malpaso Dance Company.
“I don’t have that much support, family-wise and stuff like that, so it’s good to know that there are people out there who support me, especially a mentor who wants to guide me and show me exactly where I should be,” Lopez explained.
Malpaso Dance Company taught a Master Class as part of its artist residency with ASU Gammage’s Beyond Series, and in collaboration with the nonprofit, multi-media modern dance company, The Movement Source.
As this semester’s selected mentee in The Movement Source’s guiDANCE program, Lopez, participated in the Master Class and met with Fernando Saez, the director of Malpaso Dance Company. He also chatted with other members of the company.
“It was really exciting to get to see them and talk to them, get to know what kind of background they have, and the difference between my background and their background,” mused the Trevor G. Browne High School senior.
Mary Anne Fernandez Herding is the director of The Movement Source, and created the guiDANCE program two years ago to connect high school age students with professional dance mentors. She established her dance company in order to expand the audience for dance in Arizona by creating exciting, accessible dance works, education programs and events.
“I’ve just seen so many kids who are hungry to dance and sometimes they need to hear a voice other than their teachers about what it’s like to be a dancer or a performer and be out in the world, and what is that life like, and how did they get there,” she said.
ASU Gammage Beyond artists allow guiDANCE mentees to ask questions, experience a Master Class and attend their performance. This inspires students and helps them build relationships in the dance community.
Fernandez Herding said partnering with ASU Gammage has given her program more validity and strength.
“Hopefully these things will lead to scholarship opportunities for the kids, especially if the artist is connected with the university,” she reflected. “Hopefully those relationships continue.”
Malpaso Dance Company will teach several other Master Classes and panels throughout the rest of October. Tickets are still available for the company’s Oct. 28 performance at ASUGammage.com.