ASU dance alum joins renowned NYC dance company

J. Bouey hopes to use position to inspire change in the dance world

May 23, 2019

When J. Bouey took their first dance class as a teenager in south Phoenix, they just wanted to be a stronger captain for their little-known high school step team. Now, after years of doubts and difficulties, the Arizona State University alum is joining the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in New York City, one of the most renowned and innovative dance groups in the world.

“I started taking dance classes at 15 and never thought I could be a professional dancer back then,” Bouey said. “I created backup plans during every stage of my dance education, picking up skills that serve me well to this day but served as a safety net in case my fears of failure manifested.” Photo of ASU dance alum J. Bouey ASU dance alum J. Bouey. Photo by Malcolm-X Betts Download Full Image

When Bouey chose to attend the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, they majored in dance education even though they really wanted to focus on dance performance. But then, a postmodern contemporary dance course professor told Bouey they could make it as a professional dancer.

“This truly broke this glass ceiling I believed was above me and my dreams of dancing in the companies I admired, like Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company,” Bouey said.

With one year of college left, Bouey changed their major from dance education to dance and filled the following year with technique classes to prepare for the rigor of what they assumed New York City and company life would require. Bouey said their time at ASU also helped them craft their artistic voice and the questions they wanted to explore.

“After graduating and engaging with the dance community in New York City, I learned that we were asked to be deeply interrogative artists while many other programs were teaching students to simply follow directions,” Bouey said. “The dance world is evolving to be more in line with what the School of Film, Dance and Theatre is teaching.”

Photo of ASU dance alum J. Bouey dancing

ASU dance alum J Bouey (left). Photo by Maria Baranova

Since graduating in 2014, Bouey has been living the life of a freelance dancer — auditioning for companies and projects, dancing within companies and with choreographers, creating their own work, teaching and founding and co-hosting the Dance Union Podcast, which explores the challenges of life as a dancer and provides tips and resources.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to keep all of my revenue coming from dance and creative projects since moving to New York,” Bouey said.

The dance life has not been easy for Bouey, which is one reason why joining the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane means so much.  

“I am a black person from South Central Los Angeles who went to high school on the south side of Phoenix,” said Bouey, who helped pay for school and living expenses at ASU by working at the IHOP that used to be across the street from ASU Gammage. “My family and I battled poverty throughout my dance training, and it was always apparent to me how money/wealth, race and class, among many other marginalizing identities, gave some access to dance training and left many of my friends and classmates outside of the studios. We had fears of not ‘making it’ after college because we spent our time outside of class working instead of networking, training and traveling. This company position with BTJ/AZ means that the work that systemic oppression required me to do to succeed has placed me in a position where my voice might be heard better.”

Photo of ASU dance alum J. Bouey dancing

ASU dance alum J. Bouey. Photo by David Gonsier

Bouey said now that their dreams of joining a company have come true, it’s time to dream bigger — to use their voice to change the dance world.

Bouey wants to see an end to sexual harassment, abuse of power and inadequate payment structures and wants to help to make dance more accessible to trans and gender nonconforming artists, artists living with disabilities and artists living with mental health challenges.

“My dream is to see a union that specifically represents dance artists and movement practitioners within my lifetime, and I know this company position is premium fuel to help make that happen,” Bouey said. “This position and visibility is a form of privilege, and just like my male privilege, I intend to use every ounce of it to dismantle systems of oppression.”

In addition to making changes in the dance world, Bouey also hopes sharing their story inspires and encourages others to pursue their own dreams.

“Nothing makes me happier than sharing my successes with my black and brown students in the Bronx, and Crown Heights, and Brownsville, neighborhoods like the ones I grew up in South Central L.A. and Phoenix,” Bouey said. “Because they deserve to see people who share their experiences move through the fears and manifest a wholehearted life.”

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


ASU researcher evaluates impact of climate change on avian flu

May 23, 2019

The flu pandemic of 2009 was met by a flurry of panic. This strain of the H1N1 virus, or the “swine flu,” swept across the globe and is believed to be responsible for the deaths of approximately 284,500 people worldwide. 

Like a shuffled deck of cards, the virus was the product of the reassortment of avian, swine and human influenza viruses. These ever-changing viral strains pose a formidable challenge to modern health care as they require the development of new vaccines. Migration The researchers specifically looked at the impact of climate change on the migration of birds entering the U.S. via the Pacific Flyway from Beringia. Download Full Image

One virus of increasing concern to researchers is the avian influenza virus (AIV), as it spreads easily among bird populations and is potentially transmissible to humans. Because bird populations can travel from land mass to land mass with ease, there are higher chances of it reaching a wider range of birds or other species.

The 1918 influenza outbreak, the most severe pandemic in recent history, was caused by an H1N1 virus of avian origin. Its swath of destruction claimed at least 50 million lives worldwide.

There are a plethora of variables that govern the transmission of avian strains of influenza, particularly the migration patterns of the bird species. Climate change has a significant bearing on these patterns ­— a shift in the global climate could lead to a shift in migratory patterns, leading to the reassortment of these viral strains and increasing the chances of a new, threatening strain emerging. Higher temperatures are also typically more conducive to viral transmission and pathogenicity.

In a review article published for Environment International, Matthew Scotch, faculty member in Arizona State University's Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering and associate professor in the College of Health Solutions, and collaborators at the University of Washington addressed AIV ecology and evolution in the context of climate.

“I have been working with Dr. Peter Rabinowitz at the University of Washington for many years,” Scotch said. “He, like me, has an interest in zoonoses. All of this is impacted by climate change. This includes avian influenza and the introduction of other highly pathogenic viruses that can evolve to cause human-to-human outbreaks.”

Zoonoses are infectious diseases resulting from parasites, bacteria or viruses that can be transmitted among animals or to humans. Upon transmission to humans, outbreaks can occur at a rapid rate. In fact, most human diseases originated in animals — upon mutation, reassortment or the introduction of an intermediate species, humans became their optimal hosts.  

In this paper, the researchers first looked at the impact of climate change on the migration of birds traveling via the Pacific Flyway to and from Beringia and then evaluated the resulting changes to AIV ecology.


“There is intercontinental transport of AIV in migratory birds from Asia to Beringia,” Scotch said. “Climate change impacts many things in Beringia and elsewhere including avian migration patterns, overlap of species and viral shedding and reassortment. Then there is intra-continental transport in North America via the Pacific Flyway. You then have local transmission between migratory birds and domestic poultry.” 

The paper goes on to discuss all the variables involved in AIV transmission that could be influenced by changes in the climate. For example, AIV persistence will be altered by the changing temperatures of the water the virus inhabits in Arctic areas.

Similarly, the timing of migration to and from the Arctic could lead to increased contact with humans or other bird species, increasing the likelihood of transmission. 

However, the paper highlights gaps in knowledge regarding AIV ecology, suggesting that not enough studies have been conducted evaluating changing viral ecology as dictated by changing climatic conditions. To mediate this, the researchers call for the employment of a “One Health” approach, which connects the health of humans, animals and the environment.

“We share this planet with animals — the health of all species is vital. Veterinary and human medicine need to communicate with each other,” Scotch said. “This is especially true for zoonotic diseases like avian influenza. The majority of infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin.” 

Although there are other initiatives centered on this theme of the evolution of infectious diseases, the researchers hope to continue promoting climate change’s role in this evolution. 

“We are always looking at funding opportunities from federal agencies including NSF and NIH,” Scotch said.

Gabrielle Hirneise

Assistant science writer , Biodesign Institute