Ivan Espinosa ’17 speaks of his experience at Evergreen with such sincerity and gratitude, one can almost hear the smile in his voice. And it's for good reason—he was recently accepted to New York University (NYU) with a full scholarship for graduate studies—based largely on his artistic work while at Evergreen.
Espinosa’s portfolio for application at NYU included a video of a stage performance he directed and choreographed as part of a Student-Originated Studies (SOS) group contract. SOS is a course model that allows students to study independently while working collaboratively, and is unique to Evergreen’s curriculum.
“I’m very grateful to Evergreen for the opportunity to stage my original productions,” Espinosa said. “I had access to a large stage, professional lighting, a group of dancers, original music composition, and the costume department. Electronic Media students captured the high-quality video footage, and that’s what I sent to NYU. It really paid off.”
Growing up in a city with no trees, lakes, or mountains nearby, Espinosa was enamored with the Pacific Northwest, the opposite of what he describes as the concrete jungle of Houston, Texas. When he began college in his hometown, a stifling feeling crept into him as he was ‘forced’ to take classes for which he had no desire. He already knew he was an artist at heart, and that he wanted to commit to that identity.
“I wanted to pursue my art fully so when I heard there was a college that empowers you to pursue your passions, I just knew right away Evergreen was the place I could do it,” he said.
Evergreen’s campus provided Espinosa with just the right environment he needed to be inspired for his main focus—choreography following the art of Japanese Butoh—an earthy, non-conforming style of dance which speaks to the variety of human emotion, anguish, and triumph.
Espinosa’s muse was Evergreen’s thousand-acre woods, beautiful beachfront, and wildlife. For Espinosa—and what is displayed so beautifully and apparently in his art—Earth takes the forefront, becoming an active participant in the choreography and dance.
“What motivates me as a theater artist is the desire to explore how we can use art—specifically performance and theater—to strengthen our relationship to Earth and to remember how interconnected we are as human beings to ecosystems,” he said.
At Evergreen, Ivan was encouraged to follow his passion, which he describes as invaluable. In addition to the SOS program, he also participated in a 16-credit Independent Learning Contract (ILC) to complete his coursework.
“Performing and direction facilitates so much learning because it involves taking a vision or concept and executing it into reality. That takes commitment, determination, and clarity,” he said.
Performing and direction also takes teamwork. Espinosa said he is grateful for the collaboration that took place while completing his projects. The complexity of his work made it necessary to team with a variety of students, including music composers, video editors, stage hands, costume designers, and others. “We’re already making plans to meet in New York,” he laughed.
Espinosa has his graduate school research mapped out and plans to expand on his concept of Earth as a main player on stage.
Samples of Ivan’s work: