Artists Elevated


Artists Elevated: Discussing Equity and Creativity in the Mountain West

We see this time of global crises, from COVID-19 to the uprisings for justice, as an opportunity to rethink, re-evaluate, and redesign systems that do not sustain artists of marginalized communities. While the Mountain West has been an incubator for artists in dance, theatre, music, visual and literary arts, and film, it is also a region that presents challenges and obstacles to creativity.

All panels run from 2 PM - 3:30 PM, Mountain Time. They will be recorded for later viewing and posted on this page.

This fall, UtahPresents will convene six panels focused on artists in these disciplines, beginning a conversation about equity and creativity.

During the spring of 2021, there will be two panels focused on the work of curators, presenters, funders, and critics.

The series is guided by the questions:

  • What are artists’ intentions and priorities and what obstacles get in the way of their creative work?
  • How do artists balance their own creative processes with requirements to teach and to promote their work?
  • Who is presented and funded by organizations in the Mountain West and why?
  • How do funding, criticism, and box office priorities influence curation and how can curators and presenters center artists’ needs?
  • What are strategies for making presenting, funding, and criticism more transparent and inclusive?

DANCE

The first panel session in our series features dancers from the Intermountain West.

Pre-registration is closed at this time.
Please join the Zoom panel>> time. 

Panel Members

Joseph “jo” Blake (University of Utah, BFA ’03, & University of Washington, MFA ’17), Assistant Professor of Dance (Weber State University, UT), choreographer, director, and performer throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. Ten-year member with Salt Lake City-based Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, he performed internationally in works by such artists as Alwin Nikolais, Doug Varone, Wayne McGregor, Carolyn Carlson, Bill T Jones, Susan Marshall, Charlotte Boye- Christensen, as well as many other influential dance makers. As a graduate student, jo had the opportunity to perform in the recreation of works by Yvonne Rainer, Zvi Gotheiner, Anna Sokolow, Trisha Brown, and Shapiro & Smith. His interest in educational theory, community-based engagement and social justice have led him to work with community outreach projects such as Minding Motion for Graceful Aging, Yoga Behind Bars and Mark Morris’s Dance for PD. His work has been seen nationally in Washington (Men in Dance, Full Tilt, University of Washington), Utah (Weber State University, Utah Valley University, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Alum’s Momentum, Municipal Ballet, The Penguin Lady), and Minnesota (St. Olaf College). jo is the Director of joBdance., an interdisciplinary movement-based experience. jo continues to perform with NOW-ID (SLC) and Stephanie Liapis and Dancers.


Lehua Estrada, originally from Kaua’i, is an independent artist and performer who has danced throughout the US, France, Italy, and Mexico with companies and artists such as The Nikolais Dance Theater, NOW-ID, PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATRE, Bryn Cohn, The Utah Opera, Cie. Willi Dorner, Ishmael Houston-Jones and Stephen Koester through akaMOFO, and Tzveta Kassabova. Her choreography has been commissioned by Valley Dance Ensemble, SONDERimmersive, Utah Valley University, Brigham Young University, Scottsdale Community College, the ON-SITE Mobile Dance Series, Dance Theater Coalition, and artist/activist Susan Kruger-Barber, and she has won notable awards for her work including her Cedar, Ash and Apple film collaboration with co-director Scott Cook. Prior to her freelance way of life, Lehua was a company member of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company where she was noted for her, “…special grace, ease of movement, and talent for communicating complex emotions.” Beyond dance, Lehua loves the mountains and the sea, and her four beautiful children; all of which inform her as a vulnerable and engaged artist, human, and educator.


Lezlie Frye is an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies in the School for Cultural and Social Transformation. Her research concentrates on the cultural history of disability, race, and gender in the United States since the 1970s, with a particular emphasis on histories of state violence, citizenship, and social movements. Lezlie received her Ph.D. in 2016 from the American Studies Program, Department of Social at Cultural Analysis, at New York University and was the 2014-15 Predoctoral Research Fellow in the Fisher Center for Gender Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is currently working on a manuscript entitled Domesticating Disability: Post-Civil Rights Racial Disenfranchisement and the Birth of the Disabled Citizen. Lezlie’s academic work is preceded by over a decade of popular education, activism, and organizing work that coheres around disability, racial, and economic justice.


Evangelina Macias (Aamskapipikuni, Black, Mexican) is a Ph.D. candidate in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Macias holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a Modern Emphasis from Utah Valley University. In addition to her own dance practices and studies, Macias teaches Fancy Shawl and Hoop Dance for the Title VI program for Native American youth in the Wasatch area of Utah. She is grateful to have participated and traveled (some internationally) for a variety of professional dance projects, some of which include works with Dancing Earth since 2016, and the Dancing Earth and V'ni Dansi collaboration Michif Medicines for the Talking Stick Festival in Vancouver BC (2018). Macias has also served as a member of the UCR Graduate American Indian Alliance, and of the UCHRI multi-campus faculty working group on Indigenous Dance and the Academy. She is grateful to have had the opportunity to aid as an assistant coordinator in a variety of projects, which include: The special edition of Indigenous Dance Today in Dance Research Journal (2015), UCR Medicine Ways Conference (2015), Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside (2016),  and UCR Medicine Ways Powwow (2017). In her academic work, Macias’ primary interests are in Native American and First Nations Women's practices of dancing defiance and reclamation of self through sites of Fancy Shawl, Pole dance, and Burlesque.


Kate Mattingly (Moderator) is a white, ballet-trained dancer who has spent the last 20 years examining inequities in dance education and disciplinary formations. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, the Village Voice, Dance and Pointe magazines, and academic journals: Performance Research, Mapping Meaning, Dance Chronicle, Convergence, International Journal of Screendance, and Dance Research Journal. Her undergraduate degree is from Princeton University and her doctoral degree is in Performance Studies from University of California, Berkeley. At the University of Utah she teaches courses in dance histories, dance studies, and dance criticism. In 2019, she received a Dee Grant to organize Dancing Around Race: Whiteness in Higher Education, with colleagues Gerald Casel (UCSC), Rebecca Chaleff (UCSD), Kimani Fowlin (Drew University), and Tria Blu Wakpa (UCLA).


Jessica T. Pearson is an Associate Professor of Dance at Rhode Island College.  Ms. Pearson is a dancer, educator and choreographer who danced with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Gesel Mason and Concepts In Motion (Bermuda).  An educator of the modern dance traditions has been invited to teach at Ballet West Summer Intensive, Brown University, Providence College, Urbanity Summer Intensive, University of Kentucky Lexington and has taught overseas. Her choreography has been selected to perform at Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, Southern Vermont Dance Festival and Collective Thread (NY).  Her choreography has been commissioned by Urbanity Next, Utah Regional Ballet, Rhode Island College, Salve Regina University, University of Kentucky Lexington, University of Utah and Providence College.  Prior to Rhode Island College, she was a Post MFA Fellow at the University of Utah.  She received her MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado Boulder where she studied dance pedagogy and choreography and BFA in Dance from Towson University in Towson, Maryland.


Gabrielle Salvatto, a New York native, is thrilled to be a new dancer with Tanz Company Innsbruck. Previously she was a demi-soloist with Ballet West and a member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she performed principal roles. She received her training on scholarship from the School of American Ballet, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and her BFA from The Juilliard School. She is a featured dancer on the Starz mini-series Flesh and Bone. She has done freelance work for Flatt Magazine, The Victoria Secret Fashion Show, Google Fiber, Pronamel, Calvin Klein, Just Kids from the Bronx and Cirque du Soleil. In the fall of 2019 Gabrielle was a guest artist for the Opera Ballet Vlaanderen in Antwerp, Belgium. She is also a blog contributor for Interview en L'air and a freelance writer. In 2020, Gabrielle Salvatto premiered as the female lead in CANON, the world's first “cineballet” - a full-length story ballet that was specially written, choreographed and staged by Jehbreal Jackson for film.

THEATRE

The second panel session in our series features theatre artists from the Intermountain West.  More info on panelists coming soon.

MUSIC

The third panel session in our series features musicians from the Intermountain West.  More info on panelists coming soon.

PUBLIC & VISUAL ART

The fourth panel session in our series features visual and public artists from the Intermountain West.  More info on panelists coming soon.

FILM

The fifth panel session in our series features filmmakers from the Intermountain West.  More info on panelists coming soon.

Literary Arts

The sixth panel session in our series features literary artists from the Intermountain West.  More info on panelists coming soon.

OUR TEAM

Joseph “jo” Blake (University of Utah, BFA ’03, & University of Washington, MFA ’17), Assistant Professor of Dance (Weber State University, UT), choreographer, director, and performer throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. Ten-year member with Salt Lake City-based Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, he performed internationally in works by such artists as Alwin Nikolais, Doug Varone, Wayne McGregor, Carolyn Carlson, Bill T Jones, Susan Marshall, Charlotte Boye- Christensen, as well as many other influential dance makers. As a graduate student, jo had the opportunity to perform in the recreation of works by Yvonne Rainer, Zvi Gotheiner, Anna Sokolow, Trisha Brown, and Shapiro & Smith. His interest in educational theory, community-based engagement and social justice have led him to work with community outreach projects such as Minding Motion for Graceful Aging, Yoga Behind Bars and Mark Morris’s Dance for PD. His work has been seen nationally in Washington (Men in Dance, Full Tilt, University of Washington), Utah (Weber State University, Utah Valley University, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Alum’s Momentum, Municipal Ballet, The Penguin Lady), and Minnesota (St. Olaf College). jo is the Director of joBdance., an interdisciplinary movement-based experience. jo continues to perform with NOW-ID (SLC) and Stephanie Liapis and Dancers.


Lehua Estrada, originally from Kaua’i, is an independent artist and performer who has danced throughout the US, France, Italy, and Mexico with companies and artists such as The Nikolais Dance Theater, NOW-ID, PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATRE, Bryn Cohn, The Utah Opera, Cie. Willi Dorner, Ishmael Houston-Jones and Stephen Koester through akaMOFO, and Tzveta Kassabova. Her choreography has been commissioned by Valley Dance Ensemble, SONDERimmersive, Utah Valley University, Brigham Young University, Scottsdale Community College, the ON-SITE Mobile Dance Series, Dance Theater Coalition, and artist/activist Susan Kruger-Barber, and she has won notable awards for her work including her Cedar, Ash and Apple film collaboration with co-director Scott Cook. Prior to her freelance way of life, Lehua was a company member of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company where she was noted for her, “…special grace, ease of movement, and talent for communicating complex emotions.” Beyond dance, Lehua loves the mountains and the sea, and her four beautiful children; all of which inform her as a vulnerable and engaged artist, human, and educator.


Brooke Horejsi, the Assistant Dean for Art & Creative Engagement in the College of Fine Arts and Executive Director of UtahPresents, has more than 20 years of experience in the field of creativity. In her role, Horejsi oversees a non-profit, campus based arts presenter, is a member of the leadership team at the University of Utah College of Fine Arts, and focuses on embedding the arts and creativity broadly across campus and the region. Horejsi has Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Spanish, English, and Theater from the University of Minnesota, and received her Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration from the University of Oregon. She serves as adjunct faculty and has a variety of grant panel, project advising, and board service experience with a host of organizations across the country and abroad. Her passion for the role creativity plays in building and sustaining community is apparent in her daily work and also in her participation in research cohorts and funding programs supported by organizations such the American Express Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brooke almost never pronounces her last name with linguistic accuracy, but does manage to spell it correctly 98% of the time. She is thrilled that the responsibility of teaching it to her two boys, Jack and Kolya, falls mainly to Michael, her husband, who is far better at Czech pronunciation.


Liz Ivkovich hails from a farming community in rural Michigan. She is the Development Director for UtahPresents, the multidisciplinary arts presenter at the University of Utah. Her research explores dance and environmental justice, with articles in the Journal of Environmental Studies & Sciences, Local Environment, and Performance Research. Liz received her BS in Sustainable Business (Aquinas ‘07) and MFA in Modern Dance (Utah ’16). She has performed with Maya Taylor Dance and NOW-ID, as well as producing her own work in Omaha and SLC. In addition to adjunct teaching at SLCC and UU, she has also directed several high school dance companies including Afro-Nation Dance Crew in SLC, and La Fuerza Dance at Omaha South High. Currently, Liz is finishing an Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability from the U, and serves on the boards of loveDANCEmore, tbd dance collective, and the Riley Elementary School Community Council.


Kate Mattingly is a white, ballet-trained dancer who has spent the last 20 years examining inequities in dance education and disciplinary formations. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, the Village Voice, Dance and Pointe magazines, and academic journals: Performance Research, Mapping Meaning, Dance Chronicle, Convergence, International Journal of Screendance, and Dance Research Journal. Her undergraduate degree is from Princeton University and her doctoral degree is in Performance Studies from University of California, Berkeley. At the University of Utah she teaches courses in dance histories, dance studies, and dance criticism. In 2019, she received a Dee Grant to organize Dancing Around Race: Whiteness in Higher Education, with colleagues Gerald Casel (UCSC), Rebecca Chaleff (UCSD), Kimani Fowlin (Drew University), and Tria Blu Wakpa (UCLA).


Darby Mest was born and raised in Salt Lake City and has been performing in Utah since age 8. She was most recently seen in Plan-B Theatre Company's Radio Slam, and touring throughout Utah in FEST - Free Elementary School Tour with the play Flora Meets a Bee. Darby is a local artist enthusiast and has been working with UtahPresents for just under a year. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2019 with a BA in Theatre, during which she received an Outstanding Performance award from the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Darby is passionate about amplifying diverse voices and is excited to be helping with Artists Elevated.

 

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