University of Minnesota alumna Anna Marie Shogren is always glad to get her heart rate up.
She did just that on Friday, positioning herself back at her alma mater for the night to perform at WAM-O-Rama.
Having completed her BFA in dance in 2005, Shogren continues to create art that crosses disciplines and explores the importance of movement. Although she started her time at the University “undecided,” dance — or rather movement — has been a central theme all her life.
“I think I just was moving as soon as I was a little person,” Shogren said. “Right out of the gates I was excited about moving a lot, and I think it always made sense to me to be part of the action as opposed to choosing something outside of myself.”
Shogren describes being romanced by the University’s dance community. It pulled her in, even though she came to school with the intention of discovering more than what was known to her at the time.
Upon graduation, Shogren entered caregiving, finding it a natural fit for her.
“Working with people and engaging on a personal level, engaging intimately and physically, being conscientious about how to approach a lot of those things that get termed as soft skills … I felt I had really built [those skills through] my dance experience,” Shogren said.
This idea of cross-disciplinary work within dance is something other dance majors at the University are fascinated with, as well.
“Dance is also influenced by numerous other areas of study, with pieces inspired by historical events or natural phenomena,” said Annie Hoffman, a sophomore studying dance and English. “Dance — or more generally movement — has also quite explicitly crossed disciplinary lines here at the University through Carl Flink’s ‘Bodystorming’ work.”
Tori Breen, a sophomore studying dance who hopes to minor in sustainability studies, views dance through the same lens.
“[Dance] is intertwined with all of the politics, information and sensation that bodies carry,” Breen said. “We never leave our bodies, so our dance training never leaves us.”
As an art form, dance stands beautifully on its own among creatives. However, when combined with other passions, it brings forth a perspective and emotion that others don’t realize exists.
“I think dance is special. I think it can be an underdog even as one of the arts,” Shogren said. ”I think part of [my] work is just kind of hoping to communicate how it can cross over.”
A piece Shogren feels represents this is “Falls,” which she performed at WAM-O-Rama on Friday. “Falls” combines caregiving and the health system with dance, showing creatives can belong in fields that aren’t commonly thought of as places for artists.
Current dance students at the University are exploring a similar concept as they make connections in their own studies.
“Dance cannot just be about moving your limbs,” Hoffman said. “It has to be grounded in the context of where and how and why and by whom a piece is made.”
Shogren has applied such ideas toward her MFA in socially engaged art, performance and therapy. She is also a resident at Target Studio for Creative Collaboration this year. She remains fond of the dance program at the University, but encourages students to seek experiences outside academia. She wants them to see what else is out there.
“[I would encourage] any dance student to go out and dig around beyond the people that are teaching,” Shogren said. “They’re teaching something that is incredibly valuable, but that’s just their perspective and their knowledge; there’s so much more happening. I think, to just go out and learn some things that aren’t associated with the University while you’re still in school … that’s what I wish someone would have told me.”