Dance major Emily Ames receives Maryland Summer Scholars Award

April 21, 2017

Congratulations to Dance major Emily Ames on receiving a Maryland Summer Scholars Award from the UMD College of Arts & Humanities! Approximately 30 undergraduates receive the  financial award each year to support a summer research project that further enhances their undergraduate education. Throughout the project, Emily will be mentored by Dance Professor Miriam Phillips.


Emily’s project is entitled “The 120 Project: The People and Power of Arts Activism and Community Engagement.” Throughout her time as a dance major at UMD, Emily has become interested in the power of dance and the arts to engage communities and bring attention to issues of social justice and human rights. For “The 120 Project,” Emily will accompany Sarah Oppenheim (MFA Dance ‘17) on a road trip through the South to engage communities in dialogues and movement experiences that prompt an exploration of social issues such as immigration and race. Emily is interested in the participants’ post-experience reflections: Did they feel heard? Did they feel like they were understood? Did they feel like they better understood others? She will interview the participants by video and use the footage to measure the effectiveness of the dialogues and movement experiences.


When Emily returns to Maryland at the end of the road trip, she will share the interview footage with fellow dancers and open up a discussion about the participants’ verbal reflections to their movement experiences. From there, she will ask the dancers to create their own movement phrases and she hopes to discover how we can use dance to engage with and learn from other communities. She also plans to disseminate the work to NPR’s Story Corps as an example that demonstrates the power of arts activism to engage communities through shared stories and experiences.


We look forward to hearing more about the project as the work develops. Stay tuned for Emily’s post-trip updates!


Emily Ames (front) with Amber Chabus in their piece "Sentiments of a Doormat" at the 2016 UMoves: Undergraduate Dance Concert



By Kate Spanos