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Q&A: “Outstanding Senior” Delphine Chang

The 2020 College of Fine Arts and the School of Dance “Outstanding Senior” is Delphine Chang, who will be graduating summa cum laude from School of Dance with a minor in Arts Management.

Delphine, during her four years in our program, has beautifully illustrated what is possible in terms of balancing her life in the performing arts while also delving deeply into scholarly research in the arts,” said Jory Hancock, Director of the School of Dance.

Photo of Delphine Chang dancing

Photo by Ed Flores Photography

Her impressive roster of roles in recent masterworks as part of the UA Dance season include, Larry Keigwin’s Megalopolis and George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco. Most impressively, Delphine alternated two principal roles in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and moved audiences with the dramatically challenging role she performed in the ballet, Na Floresta, by Nacho Duato, based upon the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Her love of dance ignited as she entered the world of traditional Chinese and Indian dance in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Eventually that translated into a passion for Ballet, Contemporary, Modern, and Jazz. She continued her training into college while attending summer workshops nationally.

Delphine enjoys all facets of the arts. She led the College of Fine Arts Ambassadors program and worked closely with the recruitment team, as well as assisting Tucson nonprofit arts organizations. She co-founded a small visual arts company, models, teaches, and engages with other artistic endeavors through philanthropic and social event programming. All while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.

Next fall she will be joining Missouri Contemporary Ballet.

Q&A WITH DELPHINE CHANG

Delphine has actually been living in a house close to campus during the pandemic with three other dance students. They’ve moved all of the furniture in their living room to do their remote classes. She’s getting ready to go home to Portland, Oregon, soon. Packing up, getting ready. She recently was hired by the Missouri Contemporary Ballet, which starts at the end of September.

Photo of Delphine Chang

Photo by Ed Flores Photography

What’s it been like being on an empty campus with so few people here?
“It’s weird. It’s very empty and quiet. Kind of peaceful actually. I’ve enjoyed a couple of walks I’ve done through campus because you can notice certain buildings, the architecture and what the university boasts about … like how beautiful our campus is. I’m appreciating it without the students because usually I’m speed walking between every single class. I’m always walking between dance and the College of Fine Arts, which is like a 15-minute walk. So, I’m always dodging students and don’t always look up, when I’m on campus.

“But obviously it’s still a little sad. It’s peaceful, but at the same time there’s a twinge of sadness seeing the empty dance building and these past few weekends would have been our final show. So, there’s obviously that part of it, but I’m trying not to dwell too much on that anymore.”

Well how do you deal with that? Missing those performances, how do you get by?
“I talked to a lot of friends and everyone kind of felt the same. So that’s been helpful. Just talking it out with people. We will come back; this isn’t the end. Obviously, this isn’t what we wanted, but our class is so unique in that way where no one has experienced it like this. I’ve also talked to a lot of prospective students helping with recruitment. I’ve done a lot of one-on-one calls and that honestly has helped too. Even though they’re seniors in high school, they’re obviously going through the same things. They are still just so excited to here and, like “yes, this school is amazing. Please come.” That’s helped … channeling my love for the school towards new students.”

For the past two years, Delphine has been the student leader of the CFA Ambassador program, helping grow the group. She spent any number of evenings and weekends at events. The group dedicated over 2,000 hours of service for recruitment and community service in general.

What are prospective students saying?
“The biggest concern is that a lot of students haven’t seen our campus. They had scheduled tours late March or early April, or even scheduled auditions during that time. I talked with the girl two days ago for almost two hours. She just had so many questions about the dance department. She’s like, “what are the studios like?” She said that the university and the college is one of the best she’s seen on trying to give virtual tours. She said, “I do feel like I’m there.” Obviously, the situation is not ideal, but I think it’s almost more personal because we’re having one-on-one video chats and phone calls versus a brief meeting at a recruitment event.”

How do you do a dance class remotely?
“It’s definitely harder. Everything’s been set up the same as we would be in a studio, just altered to our space. Instead of doing like big traveling pieces, across this floor, we focus more on like gestural work or staying within a box. But if you go to LA or New York, those classes are so packed that you really only have like a tiny square to dance in any way. The teachers have done pretty well spotlighting us; we’ll do groups. They’ll say, “Let’s watch these five people do it,” which is what we do in class too. They’ve definitely done their best at adjusting. It’s been kind of fun to see everyone’s houses and like dogs have made appearances.”

What was it like dancing a Balanchine piece?
“Any Balanchine ballet has been incredibly hard. I’m not a counter with dance; I’m more of the type of person who can like feel the counts when I move, but Balanchine’s music is … you’ll have like an eight and then a 10 and then a 16 and then a 12, so you have to count. Everything’s so quick and intricate and specific like down to the placement of like your fingers. Balanchine is really about lines and formations and the overall picture, so everyone has to be in their specific spots to get that picture across. Any Balanchine work I’ve done here has been amazing. I feel so accomplished after performing that, but it’s so hard at the same time.”

What was your most memorable performance?
“I was really lucky to perform another amazing piece, Na Floresta, by Nacho Duato, that I did last spring. It was like a month-long intensive. I felt like I was in that intensive for like maybe six months cause that’s pretty much all we focused on for that month. The partnering was incredibly intricate. I was part of this trio where I rarely touched the ground. It was my favorite piece that I’ve ever performed. I still miss it. When I hear the music, I get teary because I love it so much.”

(Arizona is the only university to perform the piece, using the original set and costumes, and only the second U.S. company.)

Congratulations on your new role at the Missouri Contemporary Ballet.
“I’ve always loved ballet growing up. I’ve always loved the power, the grace, the discipline of it and the technique. Coming to Arizona, I really opened up to more contemporary dance, so I’m happy to go to Missouri Contemporary Ballet, a small company of 10 or 12 in Columbia, Missouri. They’re really cool and eclectic, almost like jazzy ballet, and they have the contemporary. It feels like here to me, where you’re getting all different styles, but you’re on pointe. It’s aligns with what I’ve always wanted and I’m really excited.”

What message would you have for the next classes coming up?
“Continue to create. What you produce doesn’t have to be marvelous, monumental or noble in any way. It’ll hold importance because it’s yours. Take this time to like explore your art form and never take any moment for granted.”

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