Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?

The UCI Etude Ensemble is currently undertaking a new project, called the UCI Dance Exchange. I am planning with our company's director, Professor Donald McKayle, on a collaborative educational environment with UC-Santa Barbara, which will include seminars, master classes, and performances on both campuses. This project is designed to foster a greater dialogue at this critical point in a dancer’s life: as both scholar and artist. We hope to give both students and educators insight into the role of collegiate dance and its relationship to both the professional dance world and the Southern Californian dance scene. I am also serving as Chair of Bare Bones Dance Theater, which seeks to enhance the dancer’s experience beyond a conventional dance concert. We offer several opportunities, including fundraising, marketing, and production. In addition, we encourage further artistic growth via our scholarships and free master class series. A main priority of ours is to promote accessibility, as participation is open to the entire UCI campus. Our efforts this year culminated in our concert, entitled "Does a Body Good," which took place March 18-20, 2004. Our mentor is the inimitable El Gabriel, who has been a loyal supporter and friend to so many dancers over the years.

2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

The Etude Ensemble is consistently sponsored by UROP to travel and perform all over the country and internationally. Without a destination for this year, the company brainstormed for a new, meaningful project to pursue. The UCI Dance Exchange was born out of a desire to engage with our peers and to focus on our local arts community. I began as a performer in Bare Bones my second year, where I realized this dance concert was unlike any other at UCI. Students alone were building this production from the ground up, and I knew making a greater contribution to something that I already loved would be incredibly satisfying. I applied for the Committee the same year and was invited to join.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

It is essential for artists to continually challenge the limitations of what is possible, and research encourages such creative pursuits. I believe exploring new ways to approach a problem produces holistic, critical thinkers. Researching allowed me to take on valuable responsibilities I normally wouldn't have and motivated me to think outside of the box. The proactive, hands-on approach to my learning has translated itself well into working both conscientiously and confidently, whether it be in a dance rehearsal or a rigorous academic course.

4. What has been your favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

At our last production, I noticed a man who was wearing a Bare Bones t-shirt from several years ago. I thought that he might be the father of one of the dancers but had come to the show by himself. We later found an anonymous donation for a large sum, which we believed to be from him. Sometimes, you forget that this concert isn’t just for friends and family to see you dance, but there are those that come because it’s a good show in itself and they really believe in what we’re doing.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

I will be attending the Courtauld Institute of Art in London this fall to pursue a Masters degree in Art History. Eventually, I hope to do educational programming in the arts, perhaps for a museum, theater, or government agency. My research at UCI has really taught me about the social responsibility that artists have to their community. I feel that this ongoing awareness has been recognized and helped me to land placements at ArtsBridge, The Kennedy Center, and finally, the Courtauld.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

Be active! Wonderful opportunities come to those who choose to seek them. Even if you don’t yet have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish or how to achieve it, your interest will begin the process. Your faculty mentor undoubtedly will give you the resources and guidance to make your project a success. As long as you have the confidence to act upon your curiosity, there will always be somebody who is eager to support you.

Past Researchers of the Month
Dec. '04 Martin Vega
Nov. '04 Peter Kuo
Oct. '04 Michelle Plyer
Sep. '04 Camille Campion
Aug. '04 Ahmed Ibrahim
Jul. '04 Gregoria Barazandeh
Jun. '04 Matthew Korn
May '04 Jolene Minakary
Apr. '04 Zhanna Kovaleva
Mar. '04 Dorothy Chang
Feb. '04 Elizabeth Yanni
Jan. '04 Brad Cohn
Recent Year