The guest artist in residence brings together dance, faith


Greta Sugai, director of Messangerz Dance Company, came to campus last week to work with dance students. (Photo by Matthieu Fajardo)

By Ashlee Larrison
CUU Information Office

There are a lot of things that impressed the artist in dance residency this semester, Greta Sugai, after working alongside students at Grand Canyon University last week.

Sugai’s organization strives to achieve excellence in dance while sending a positive faith-based message. (Photo by Tessa Machmer)

They are open to multiple forms of movement.

Each student interprets this movement differently.

Most importantly, they are ready to learn.

Having traveled from his hometown of Colorado to Phoenix, Sugai brought his impressive worship and dance experience to GCU for his four-day residency on campus. The director of Messengerz Dance Company, an organization that strives to achieve excellence in dance while sending a positive, faith-based message, was struck by the skill and professionalism she saw at the College of fine arts and productions.

“I realized while teaching my improv class that a lot of students here in particular have this ability to make things their own,” she said. “Everyone is so willing to try anything that I feel like the students here are really good at doing anything. “

Even though this was his first time on campus, it wasn’t the first time Sugai had crossed paths with talent emerging from the GCU dance program. Before the pandemic sweeps the world in early 2020, a dance graduate from GCU Hannah croft was to travel to Auckland, New Zealand with the Messangerz Dance Company to attend an Easter camp. Sugai has also worked with other GCU alumni in his company.

Sugai’s experience in interweaving faith and dance made her an obvious choice of residence. Bekki Prize.

“What got me the most excited is who Greta and her company are as well. I think that lines up really well with Grand Canyon University,” Price said. “A lot of people don’t consider dance as a mission, so I love what it brings to the program.

Sugai choreographed a piece for this semester’s “Emerge” winter dance concert. (Photo by Matthieu Fajardo)

“With guest artist residencies, I always like to add to what our program already has. Bringing in artists from all over the country who have worked all over the world and have different backgrounds and experiences really helps open the eyes of students to the different possibilities they have.

In addition to opening students’ eyes to the world of possibilities that await them after graduation, Sugai also choreographed a senior piece for this semester’s “Emerge” winter dance concert.

On the song “Saturn” by Illinois band Sleeping At Last, Sugai tells the story of someone going through a traumatic time in their life and the journey to overcome hardships.

“I felt, just looking at last year, I needed it a lot – knowing that everything would be fine,” Sugai said.

It was a piece that resonated just as much with its performers.

Senior Megan Neese, major in dance education, was captivated by Sugai’s ability to tell a story through movement.

“I feel like recently I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to do the storytelling dance style,” she said. “I have the impression that dance is always a very good outlet to get out of things and express yourself.”

As for the opportunity to work with Sugai, Neese said it was an enjoyable experience in every way.

“It was really nice to be able to take her movement and then do something impactful and meaningful for you,” she said. “It’s just really awesome.”

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]

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GCU today: Dance graduate to share art and faith in New Zealand


Corina C. Butler

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