Zara Anwar’s performance in Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA in Dance Fall Showcase in Angelico Concert Hall on November 9-10 was inspired by her work with JUNTOS Collective, a non-profit organization that engages students from across the United States to teach dance in underserved communities.
Zara has been involved with JUNTOS since her freshman year. She has traveled to Nicaragua and Guatemala to teach dance, participate in dance workshops, and perform with dance students from different colleges and conservatories across the country.
“This experience allowed me to grow in my leadership and enhance my collaborative skills with other college dance students in an intercultural environment, as well as develop my teaching and performance skills,” Zara says. “I was also enabled to learn about various cultures by using my art form. The trips instilled a mutual experience of learning, growth, and exchange through artistic expression between myself, my fellow peers, and the communities and people with whom we engaged.”
In Armistice choreographed by Christian Burns for the Fall Showcase, Zara and her classmates Sofia Barrios-Allen, Roshika Dater-Merton, Marie Finley, Brandon Graham, Chloe Ha, Alesandra Harper, Gabriela Mendez-Lopez, Anouk Otsea, and Madison Palmer explored the use of satire around the topic of war.
“The dance is driven by spontaneity and tension, and in order to satisfy that drive we must have an awareness of and be able to feel each other. I’ve experienced a similar state of camaraderie when working with JUNTOS,” Zara says. “So much of the organization’s mission surrounds the motive of building relationships and community.”
Zara’s interest in JUNTOS piqued during her first semester in the Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA program upon arriving from Maryland and the Baltimore School for the Arts. She learned about the organization from an information session presented to BFA students. She also talked with BFA in Dance alumna Maxine Patronik ’17 about her JUNTOS experience. Maxine is now a Gyrotonic instructor at the Chicago Center for Body Movement.
“Coming to college, I knew I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities presented to me,” says Zara, one of 41 students currently enrolled in the BFA program (three-quarters from outside California). “But after hearing about JUNTOS, that was an experience I did not want to miss.”
Zara created a GoFundMe campaign her freshman year to travel with JUNTOSAbroad. She also has traveled and represented Dominican’s Campus Ministry at the 2017 National College Preaching in Action Conference at Molloy College. In addition, Zara, an Honors student, is an Orientation Leader, a Peer Mentor, and a member of the Siena Leadership Team who is active on the Spirituality and Interfaith and Liturgical Ministry committee.
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Zara’s focus in November was on the Fall Showcase.
“My goal has always been to join a company and dance professionally. Coming into the BFA program, this goal was in the forefront of my mind,” Zara says. “Yet, the opportunity to go to school and earn a college degree opens the doors to several possibilities and routes that I could pursue, such as earning a degree in physical therapy post graduation and work with dancers, or teach dance or choreography. Now as a junior in the program, my goal of dancing professionally is still being striven for, but I’ve become more open to these different options available to me after graduating.”
Photo credit: Estate Serenity Imagery.