“The dancers all had a hand in the form the piece took and offered movement material created from group exercises that I then structured in to a group piece,” Witt said.

Witt created the work as a way to kinesthetically study empathy.

Last year Witt began researching crowd mentality and “the unique circumstances that allowed for people to resist the urge to flee from something dangerous alongside a large group, and instead run towards the danger with the intent to help other people.” That research led to a duet with Felix Cruz, a recent ASU graduate. Witt continued to investigate different forms and productions of empathy, including the neurological function of empathy. 

“I began rehearsals for my thesis piece with the intent to continue studying functioning empathy but focus on the effect a lack of empathy has on personal relationships as well as on larger communities,” she said. “The focus of the piece changed as I discovered, along with my dancers, that being empathetic is not as simple or as innate as we had thought. The piece then changed to allow for us to explore what stands in empathy’s way and what we can do ourselves to recapture true empathy.”

Witt’s work also includes a pre-show installation showcasing a dance film she and her dancers created that was inspired by the form of empathy inside the brain and how it changes based on our experiences with other people.  

Witt says she hopes people connect with the ideas she presents through dance, but she also hopes they just enjoy the art of dance.

“One of the things that I love about dance performance is being able to learn or experience something new while also being able to learn more about the body and the capabilities we hold within all our bodies to create art.”

Emerging Artists

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17–18; 2 p.m. Nov. 19

Where: Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio, Physical Education Building East, ASU's Tempe campus.

Admission: $16 for general admission; $12 for ASU faculty, staff and alumni; $12 for seniors; $8 for students. Purchase tickets online or call the Herberger Institute Box Office at 480-965-6447.

Sarah A. McCarty

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