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K-State Today

July 15, 2020

Dance professor receives NEA grant to support creative project

Submitted by Office of the VIce President for Research

Kate Digby, associate director of dance, was recently awarded a $10,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, or NEA.

The project, "Search for Simurgh," is an immersive, multimedia performance installation exploring migration, trauma and transcendence. In the midst of emotionally provocative dance-theatre performances and interactive challenges for the audience, biosensing technology is used to amplify the heartbeat and breathing of participants in service of increased connection and empathy.

"It is an incredible gift to be working with artists, scientists and activists who are all committed to using technology in conjunction with embodied practice to enhance connection and authenticity," Digby said. "I am excited by the potential of this piece to prompt reflection on the nature of freedom and the internal and external barriers to its realization for all people."

An initial two-year development phase supported by the NEA, the Ontario Arts Council, Kansas State University and Biopac Systems Inc. culminated in work-in-progress showings at the Toronto Media Arts Center in August 2019. This new grant will support ongoing development of the choreography, installation, technology and sound design while Digby seeks additional funding and partnerships to bring the completed work to the public.

"In addition to elevating the profile of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, this project has allowed Digby to introduce students to innovative approaches to creating art at the intersection of performance, installation and technology, as well as opportunities to rehearse and perform alongside professional artists regionally and internationally," said Jeff Ward, director of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

"Search for Simurgh" is dedicated to the memory of Roya Movafegh, an original collaborator whose autobiographical novel "The People With No Camel" inspired key elements of the project.