Outstanding Agribusiness Graduate Inspired by ASU’s Inclusiveness
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.
Kathy Luo started her dance journey at the age of 4.
“It made me feel like my life was colorful,” Luo said.
As she got older, her parents continued to support her pursuit of dancing as a profession.
“Dancing made me happy and passionate about my life,” Luo said. “It was the only time I felt like I could be creative and be myself.”
Luo came to Arizona State University from Beijing in search of cultural experiences and opportunities to develop her creative practice. In May, she obtained a master’s degree in dance from the School of Music, Dance and Theater.
“I wanted to have a new life experience and see what it’s like to experience a different culture and surround myself with different people,” she said. “I felt it could give me a lot of inspiration in my artistic creation. It helps me to be a better person – a better human being.
As part of her application for the MFA program, Luo submitted choreography samples, movement practice videos, and a personal statement. Then she participated in a virtual interview.
“Based on everything, I imagined myself here at ASU, so I went for it,” Luo said. “If I really want to do something, I will do it.”
While in the MFA program, Luo sought opportunities to collaborate with students and colleagues outside of the program. Luo has participated in three dance film collaborations during the pandemic: “A Little Boy and the Moon” and “Rise” with the music program and “Unbreakable” with contemporary dance company Kraken Still and Film. Her applied project, “Out of the Blue”, explored immersive dance and challenged the traditional view of spectators. The dancers moved fluidly between and around the audience members, who were placed on stage with the dancers seated in chairs.
“The philosophy of my creative research centers on integrating dance and theater by creating immersive dance theater,” Luo said. “In the future, I hope to further my research on how dance embodies social responsibility.”
After graduation, Luo wants to stay in the United States. She hopes to enter academia and recently interviewed for a position as an adjunct professor at a university.
“I think it went well,” she said. “We will see !”
Question: What did you learn at ASU – in class or otherwise – that surprised you or changed your perspective?
To respond: Number 1 is community. The artistic community at ASU is really vibrant and positive. I feel like part of our artistic community. We are really connected to each other, between different departments and different disciplines. We support each other.
#2 is the number of opportunities for students to explore themselves. Our program includes many concerts by students and guest artists. Students can perform and collaborate with professionals.
#3 is resources. Public resources, facilities, gymnasium, library.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: The program had the sense of diversity I was looking for. I can feel the diversity growing at ASU in the dance program. I can really engage with different cultures. The faculty members are really supportive. They support all kinds of ideas and projects. They are really approachable and kind. The program really emphasizes creativity. It gave me more flexibility and confidence to pursue my passions.
Q: Which teacher taught you the most important lesson at ASU?
A: My committee advisor Eileen Standley. I miss her so much. He was the person who supported my creative ideas and helped me through setbacks. She gave me a lot of tips on how to approach my creative ideas with a project. She not only helped me to be a good artist, but she is also very warm and encouraged me to be brave and try the things I want. All his support is sincere. She helped me to be proud of myself as an emerging artist.
(Deputy Director of Dance and Associate Professor) Keith Thompson is my mentor teacher. He helped me know how to be a good teacher and how to design my lessons and how to establish a good relationship with the students. He really pushed me to be a good educator. It makes me feel like I can be a good artist as well as a good educator. I can do things I never imagined before!
Q: What is the best advice you would give to those still in school?
A: My first suggestion would be to start! Be brave because it’s really hard this first semester. Graduate school has a lot of writing and reading assignments. At first as an MFA in dance, it seems surprising. But no, we certainly have to write and read a lot. Push yourself and push your limits. Jump out of your comfort zone. You have to push through the whole process.
And be clear about your research. Generate clear ideas about what interests you. Have a general vision of what you want to do in your graduate research. Do a lot of collaborative work. Increase your chances of connecting with other people and reaching different people.
Q: Where was your favorite place on campus, whether to study, meet friends or just think about life?
A: There are many places that I really like. My favorite is Hayden Library, because every time I’m in the library I feel good. I feel calm and productive.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve a problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I want to help people. Right now, a lot of people are suffering from mental health issues. We pay a lot of attention to our physical health, but not our mental health. I want to help people live a happy life.