ASU School of Dance presents Transition Projects I & II

January 25, 2011

Transition Projects I & II encompass a combination of complex performance and innovative choreography studies by ASU School of Dance undergraduate seniors, faculty, alumnae and special guests.

Claudia Murphey, School of Dance professor, is the artistic driector of the performances to take place Feb. 18-20, on the ASU Tempe campus. Some pieces from Transition Projects I will be included in Transition Projects II. Download Full Image

Transition Projects I

Sustainability and soil erosion are subjects examined in a three-part work, Exhausted Abundance. Choreographed by Karen Schupp, School">">School of Dance faculty member, and performed by seniors Mandi Karr and Emily Zakrzewski, the piece explores these subjects in site-specific and theater settings.

In Endless River, choreographed by Mary Fitzgerald, associate professor in the School of Dance, and in collaboration with seniors Madeline Wilcox and Tara Wrobel, the dancers endlessly separate and come together in an intimate duet about closure and change.

New York-based choreographer Nina Buisson presents Tear of Stone, a solo performed by graduating senior Samantha McHale.

For Her Smile Is Painted On, choreographed by Jenna Kosowski, School of Dance alumna and a solo performance by senior Renee Zuccola, is influenced by the storybook character, Raggedy Ann created in 1915. This was around the period in U.S. history when women fought for equal rights. The piece plays between the ideas of freedom and femininity. The flow and fluidity of the movements show “freedom” and the overall piece is focused on the “feminine” qualities of dance.

Revolutionary Alarm is choreographed by senior Melissa Britt with the collaboration of senior Paige Mayes, and spoken-word artist Tomas Stanton, and conveys multiple characters through Tomas' spoken words that are designed to captivate the audience in an experience of recreating words and movement at the same time.

Choreographer and senior Alyssa Brown uses minimalist movement in fixAted. This piece depicts a clear focus as the dancers become enthralled with something offstage. It is an attempt to draw the audiences to what is happening both on and off stage, and create an obsessive fixation with something unknown.

Pushing Forward explores and embodies movement through the discussion of transitioning. Choreographer and senior Tara Wrobel, in collaboration with the performers, demonstrates how they are discovering their individual process through their time here at ASU and into their future outside of school.

Transition Projects II

Alumna Cheri Burns-McDowell reveals a new work, White Noise, exploring Electronic Voice Phenomenon through a mysterious woman in white portrayed by Janelle Fehser, graduating senior. In collaboration with Eileen Standley, School of Dance clinical professor, seniors Mandi Karr and Alyssa Brown use movement as a metaphor for society drowning in “over-stimulation” due to the accessibility of technology.

Seniors Emily Millizer, choreographer, and Ashleigh Leite present Sweetheart, a collaboration of the exhilarating movement of Leite and her self-produced video work that explores the inner self of an Arizona State University sorority sweetheart.

Seniors Laura Pellegrino and Kasey Fletcher invite the audience to participate in their piece, The Game Is In Action..., an installation which examines the game Twister through live game-play and video.

Editor’s note: The Endless River, Revolutionary Alarm, and Pushing Forward pieces from Transition Projects I also will be presented in the Transition Projects II program.

Transition Projects I performances are scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 18 and 4 p.m., Feb. 19. Transition Projects II performances are scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 19 and 2 p.m., Feb. 20.

All shows will be performed in the Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio, 611 E. Orange St., in the Physical Education Building East (PEBE) #132 on the ASU Tempe campus. Tickets are $8-$21. Contact the Herberger Institute Box office at 480-965-6447, or visit" href="

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(480) 965-1208

ASU School of Dance

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group


New book sheds light on religion, politics and Islam

January 26, 2011

In his latest book “Java, Indonesia and Islam,” anthropologist Mark Woodward set out to present a traditional collection of essays on religious practice and identity in Indonesia, but what he ended up with is a central new work on political, religious and cultural change in the Muslim world.

“When I started the book, I saw it as a way to gather together a group of essays I had written over the last 25 years," says Woodward, an associate professor at ASU. "But witnessing the rise of Islam in global conflict during this same period, I realized that a new approach would be needed in order to understand the dynamics at work in Indonesia and elsewhere.” Download Full Image

Woodward, whose research specializations include religion and politics, and Islam in Southeast Asia, teaches in the School">">School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and is an affiliate faculty member with the Center">">Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The result is a descriptively and theoretically rich book that, according to one reviewer, “deftly resolves some of the most difficult problems in the study of universalistic, or [as he calls them], ‘transcultural’ religions.”

What separates Woodward’s work from that of many anthropologists is that, in addition to detailed description, he provides a set of theoretical and conceptual tools with which to better understand the relationships between religion, culture, and politics and hence to better understand religion and conflict in the contemporary world.

Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, is also a democracy. It is regarded by many as the site for some of the most creative thinking about Islam in the modern world, but too often it is ignored by those who assume Islam is a predominantly Middle Eastern phenomenon.

“This is why understanding the history and contemporary manifestations of Islam in Indonesian culture and politics is so important,” Woodward says. “It suggests a number of important possible futures for the relationship of Islam and the West, most of which are not a clash of civilizations.

“Part of what I have tried to do in this book is to document a very different sort of Muslim politics than that described in most of the current literature on ‘Political Islam.’  I prefer the term ‘Muslim politics’ because it is politics conducted on the basis of assumptions derived from a local Muslim cultural tradition, in this case Javanese Muslim culture. For the most part, and for most of the political actors I am writing about, this is second nature, and it is probably also true in most parts of the Muslim world.”

Woodward also looks to challenge the contemporary norms regarding Islam and Islamic Studies present in a lot of media discourse today.

“I think that in the current political and academic climate it is especially important to steer clear of ‘Islamic exceptionalism’ of the sort advocated by Samuel Huntington and others who want to find a uniquely Islamic cause for violence committed in the name of Islam,” Woodward said. “I think that they should read the history of the Protestant Reformation in Europe to gain some perspective on this.”

“Java, Indonesia and Islam” presents a collection of essays concerning Islamic texts, rituals and sacred space, situated in Javanese and Indonesian political contexts. With a number of new essays as well as significantly revised versions of previous essays, this book makes a significant contribution at a time when understanding the political significance of religious and cultural change may be more important than ever.

Woodward also heads a multimillion dollar research project for the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict examining counter-radical discourse across the Muslim world.

Written by Richard Ricketts