The Department of Theatre and Dance’s supportive artistic and scholarly environment are what first attracted graduate student Brianna Figueroa to UT, but she was also drawn by something else.
“The Performance as Public Practice Program in the theatre and dance department provides a deeply critical, interdisciplinary perspective on the arts that is not available elsewhere,” she said.
Brianna has been dancing since she was a young girl, and she says her relationship to dance has evolved as much as she has over the years. As a child, Brianna felt disconnected with much of the work she was performing, which led to her thesis topic on what it means to be a Chicana working in the western genre of contemporary concert dance, a topic she says is nearly untouched in the academic sphere.
“Without a Latina/Chicana role model in my view, there wasn't an example for me to utilize or someone to mentor me in that aspect of my artistry,” she said. “This is certainly not to say that Chicana/o or Latina/o dance artists do not exist, but rather that when they are rendered invisible they thusly become inaccessible.”
In addition to her thesis, Brianna is presenting an original choreographed piece in the Cohen New Works Festival this spring. After graduation, Brianna hopes to continue studying and earn her Ph.D. from UT as well.
“I am so appreciative of the many individuals who recognize the need to support artists and I am even more grateful to be one of those artist thanks to the efforts of the Doty Society,” Brianna said. “I believe deeply that my research is addressing a gap in the dialog that surrounds Latina participation in the arts and your support says much of your own willingness to participate in that conversation.”