Haikeus: Transmuting Ecological Grieving into Action


HAIKEUS (translated from Finnish as “a sense of simultaneous sadness and gratitude”). This work was inspired by ideas around solastalgia (eco-nostalgia) and environmental change, and aims to shift our relationship to the environment, ourselves, and our communities.

“A species and a culture that treat the natural world with respect and reciprocity will surely pass on genes to ensuing generations with a higher frequency than the people who destroy it.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer




Field I

Field II


Field III




Choreography (in collaboration with dancers), Visual Design, and Direction: Mary Fitzgerald

Dancers: Nicole Bradley Browning, Jenny Gerena, Liliana Gomez, Sydney Jackson, Zarina Mendoza, Alexis Solano, Halley Willcox

Sustainability Science and Research: Scott Cloutier

Costume and Visual Design: Galina Mihaleva

Music and Sound Installation: pincushioned (Barry Moon and Doug Nottingham)

Lighting Design: Carolyn Koch

Project Assistants: Alexis Solano and Marissa Pallares

Production Crew: Josie Jones, Tremayne Manahane, Esteban Rosales

Photography: Dmitri von Klein

All the dance artists and collaborators involved in this project contributed to the creation of the choreography and the development of the concept. The original cast included Coley Curry. Haikeus: Field II also was performed by a group of ASU dancers: Imani Etter, Monique Kelley, Maddie Lasco, Alexis Solano, and Suzanna Varela, who contributed to the development of the choreography for that section.

Inspiration for this project came from extensive research about climate change, eco-grief, gratitude practices, and the Symbiocene. The work of Glenn Albrecht, Robin Wall Kimmerer (Braiding Sweetgrass) and the poetry of Joy Harjo were particularly important sources.


Pictured Above (right to left): Nicole Bradley Browning, Zarina Mendoza and Jenny Gerena; Jenny Gerena; Liliana Gomez; Sydney Jackson and Jenny Gerena; Zarina Mendoza; Alexis Solano and Suzanna Varela; Halley Willcox with ensemble. Photos: Dmitri von Klein and Tim Trumble.


Nicole Bradley Browning

I am a dance artist and educator respectfully located in Gilbert, AZ. I have danced, performed, improvised, presented choreography and taught throughout the United States, Indonesia and Taiwan. Over the course of my professional career, I’ve created and collaborated on more than 50 dances in diverse genres focusing on the complexity of relationships and the connection between people and place. After serving as the Head of Dance and Professor at the University of Montana for nearly 20 years, I returned to the desert to instruct at my alma mater, Arizona State University. I specialize in teaching contemporary modern dance, contact improvisation, improvisation, contemporary ballet and dance making practices. I seek to nurture collective respect for individuality, signature and voice. I strive to model empathy, authenticity and kindness while nudging communities toward rigorous research in body and mind. 

Jenny Gerena

Jenny Gerena is a Phoenix-based choreographer, performer, and teaching artist. She is an alumna of Scottsdale Community College, Sam Houston State University, and Arizona State University, where she received an M.F.A in Dance in 2016. She has presented her work at the Florida Dance Festival, Breaking Ground Dance Festival (AZ), BlakTinx Dance Festival (AZ), The Dance Gallery Festival (TX, NYC), Women in Dance Conference (PA), and the Phoenix Art Museum. Jenny served as Adjunct Faculty in Dance at Scottsdale Community College and Glendale Community College for 6 years teaching dance technique and humanities courses. Since the Fall of 2022 Jenny has been the dance teacher at Betty H. Fairfax High School in Laveen AZ. Here, she hopes to continue expanding her knowledge as a dance educator and share the power of dance with young students.

Liliana Gomez

Liliana Gomez, from Guadalajara, Mexico, is a mother, dance maker, producer, and arts advocate based in Phoenix, AZ. Liliana has a passion for sharing dance within her community and has choreographed for public spaces such as galleries, canals, gardens, libraries and more. With experience in choreographing original dance work, for concert dance at High Schools, Community Colleges, Universities and Arizona dance companies. She is the managing director for the BlakTinx Dance Festival which showcases the work of Black and Latinx choreographers in Phoenix and Los Angeles, produced by the Latina Dance Project, of which Liliana is a member of. Currently Liliana is the Dance Department head at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, and teaches a weekly dance class. Liliana was a cohort member for the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Leadership Institute, participated in the National Presenters Forum at Jacob’s Pillow, and has been a selected artist for Dance in the Desert; A gathering of Latinx Arizona Dance Artists. In 2015, Liliana won the Phoenix Mayor’s Arts Award, was one of three finalists for the Governor’s Arts Awards, named Best Dancer for Phoenix New Times one of Phoenix Magazine’s 40 under 40 Artist category. Liliana invests in her community as she has served on many local art board of directors and as a panelist for many national grant calls, advocating for more dance opportunities.

Sydney Jackson

Sydney Jackson is a family researcher pressed against the fascial trigger points of apathy, learning from creeks southeastern, and renting in settled, unceded O’Odham land.

Jackson trusts the inadequacy of our mass education, and thus our understanding, to be complete and finds this unsettling. She is a movement artist and care worker for hire.

Zarina Mendoza

Zarina Mendoza is a passionate artist with a forward-looking, diversified and inclusive vision. Born and raised on the border of Mexico and the United States, who identifies as full Latinx, full Mexicana and has a BFA in Dance. Founder, choreographer and director of Tranze Danza Contemporánea, a dance company that has been invited to remarkable international festivals in South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Costa Rica, United States, Taiwan and Mexico. Her work has won critical acclaim and overwhelming responses from audiences and critics. Along with her desire to find interconnections woven in various forms of expression, she has traveled to Europe, Asia and South America to submerge into different movement currents like Flying low, Piso Movil, Dynamic floor work, Dance theatre, Capoeira and works with others to co-create a space that triggers a practice of introspection along with reflection. The key elements of her creations involve tension and conflict, body/mind dichotomy, risks, physicality, instinct and passion. Her inspirations are based on personal experiences, political and social climate, supported and explored through scientific research and academic points of view.

Alexis Solano

Alexis Solano is a third-year Dance BFA student attending the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Alex is an active choreographer and performer both inside and outside of ASU with multiple collaborative film presentations as well as individual stage work. She has choreographed for ASU’s undergraduate production multiple times with works titled “Unpleasant Realities” (Spring 2021), “Elapse” (Fall 2021),  and “ONWARD TO NOWHERE” (Fall of 2022). Alex is a determined dance artist with values of sharing researched knowledge related to mental health, social activism, and the philosophical human experience. She is expected to graduate in the Spring of 2024 with hopes to continue pursuing her passion of research and creation wherever it takes her.

Halley Willcox

Halley Willcox [BFA, MFA] is a dance artist, educator, questioner and the director of Methods of Madness Dance Theater. She has performed around the USA, Spain, England, Mexico and Canada. While living in New York, she performed at venues such as the Judson Church, Alvin Ailey Studios, Green Spaces, Jacob’s Pillow, Gibney, House of Yes, Times Square, and danced for Kinesis Project Dance Theater. She is the founder and director of the Arizona Drive-in Dance Film Festival and teaches at Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University. She is a Permanent-Artist-in-Residence and Director of Marketing and Grant Writing at [nueBOX] in Phoenix. Halley teaches with Liz Lerman and is working with her on the development of the Atlas of Creative Tools; a multidisciplinary creative framework. She is currently presenting a new work titled “a rose for you”, which toured to Marfa, Texas in April and will be performed in Brooklyn, New York at the Triskelion Arts Center on June 28th and 29th, and in Phoenix in fall 2023. Follow Halley at @methodsofmadnessdancetheater @haywillupassthesalt or halleywillcox.net


Mary Fitzgerald (Choreography and Design)

Mary Fitzgerald is a choreographer, performer, and educator who has been creating dance and multimedia projects, dance films, and socially engaged arts events in Arizona for over 20 years. Before moving to the Southwest, she was a member of Kei Takei’s Moving Earth for nearly ten years, performing and teaching internationally. She also has performed with A Ludwig Dance Theatre, Fred Darsow Dance, and several independent choreographers in the United States. Mary’s creative work has received funding from the Japan Foundation, Ministry of Culture in Mexico, National Endowment of the Arts, Arizona Commission on the Arts, and ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research, Leonardo, and Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. She has had the privilege of teaching and performing at venues throughout the U.S. and in Argentina, Australia, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, New Zealand and in many parts of Europe. Mary is a professor of dance in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, and is deeply grateful for the beauty, wild places, and spirit of this region.

Scott Cloutier (Sustainability Science and Research)

Scott Cloutier is an Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Happiness, Director of the Sustainability and Happiness Lab (Happy Lab), and Senior Sustainability Scholar in the School of Sustainability and the College of Global Futures. Scott has degrees in civil and environmental engineering from the University of New Hampshire, and and a PhD in environmental and biological engineering from Cornell University. Scott is also certified in and practices assets-based development, regenerative development, permaculture, natural building, applied shamanism, depth hypnosis, and the integrative healing arts. Scott is a military (USN) veteran, former college athlete, and a lifelong farmer and advocate for remembering humanity’s connection to and reliance upon nature, ancestors, and the wisdom of more-than-human families.

Galina Mihaleva (Costume and Visual Design)

Galina Mihaleva is Associate Professor in Fashion at Arizona State University.  Her work and research deal primarily with the dialogue between body and dress, driven by the idea of having both a physical and psychological relationship with a garment as a responsive clothing – wearable technology.  Her art and design work have been shown in festivals, galleries and museums across the United States, Asia, Central and South America and Europe.  In 2007 she was nominated for the best design award at Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.  Galina received the Rumi award in USA, the first place at the Tiffany’s Paris Fashion Week in 2016, and Winner for the Couture category at the Australian Wearable Art Festival.  Unbounded by the old rules, Galina now offers her work as a testimony to the power of beauty and expression, and to the transcendent human spirit.  Sher regards her work as being timeless.

Barry Moon (Music)

Barry has been combining various forms of art and technology for the past 25+ years. His primary focus is on creating meaningful interactions between humans and computers. He has worked in several collaborations with other artists, and while sound is his central focus, also works with video, sculpture, dance, data, etc. Barry’s works are regularly performed at venues such as the International Computer Music Conference, New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, Moxsonic, CHIMEFest, Australasian Computer Music Conference, and the SEAMUS Conference.

Barry is Associate Professor in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance program at Arizona State University.

Doug Nottingham (Music)

Douglas Nottingham has been active internationally as a percussionist, performance artist, composer, music educator, recording artist and producer. 

As a solo percussionist and member of Phoenix’s Crossing 32nd Street and the New Mexico-based LINKS Ensemble he has specialized in the performance of contemporary chamber works.This has led to rewarding collaborations, commissions and recordings with notable composers and performers from the US and abroad. He has appeared as featured artist at conventions and symposia including the World Dance Alliance, Percussive Arts Society, the American Dance Guild, the Society of Composers, the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States, the International Computer Music Conference, the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, Moxsonic and the Society of American Music. His recordings, as both performer and producerhave been released on the Neuma, Nonsequitor, Stradivarius, Wergo and Hip Nic Soundlabels. In addition to his chamber, solo and creative research, he performs with the marimba groups Vespusand the Sonoran Marimba Band, the transmedia electronica collective pincushioned and the rock group Skümbââg.

Dr. Nottingham has been a faculty member at Glendale Community College since 1996, where he directs the Music Industry Studies program and teaches percussion, music theory, electroacoustic music, and digital recording.  

Carolyn Koch (Lighting Design)

Carolyn Koch has been a member of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts School of Music, Dance and Theatre at Arizona State University after working for many years as a professional Stage Manager and Lighting Designer. Ms. Koch toured nationally and internationally for companies such as Alvin Ailey, American Festival Ballet, American Players Theatre, and “Beauty and the Beast”. She is excited to be at Arizona State University to share her knowledge and passion with the students. Ms. Koch stage manages and is the Production Manager for the Dance, serves as one of the School’s Lighting Designers, teaches Creative Practices, Transitions (Senior Capstones) and Dance Theatre Performance/Production, and mentors student Stage Managers and Lighting Designers. In addition, Ms. Koch serves as the Lighting Designer and Stage Manager for several local dance companies.

Dmitri von Klein (Photography)

Dmitri von Klein, born in Siberia, raised in East Germany, and later the American Southwest. He received a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in the history of photography from the University of Oregon.

His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Vulture, NPR, The Daily Beast, Esquire, Wired, BuzzFeed, Oregon Quarterly, Portland Tribune, Eugene Weekly and more.

Today, he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and travels within the States and abroad in pursuit of his work and greater understanding with his best friend Lulu, the Collie Patou.

Alex Solano (Project Assistant)

Alexis Solano is a third-year Dance BFA student attending the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Alex is an active choreographer and performer both inside and outside of ASU with multiple collaborative film presentations as well as individual stage work. She has choreographed for ASU’s undergraduate production multiple times with works titled “Unpleasant Realities” (Spring 2021), “Elapse” (Fall 2021),  and “ONWARD TO NOWHERE” (Fall of 2022). Alex is a determined dance artist with values of sharing researched knowledge related to mental health, social activism, and the philosophical human experience. She is expected to graduate in the Spring of 2024 with hopes to continue pursuing her passion of research and creation wherever it takes her.

Marissa Pallares (Project Assistant)

My name is Marissa Marie Pallares and I am the assistant costume designer on this delightful project for ASU’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre. I am a graduate of ASU’s Fashion Design program of 2023. I have been designing since I was a child and knew that fashion was my calling. My brand, Zac Moris, that focuses on the little details that make a garment fit just right and make it look one-of-a-kind. Please feel free to contact me through my Instagram @zacmoris_official. Please enjoy the show!


A heartfelt thanks to all the artists and scientists involved in the creation of Haikeus and to Arizona Commission on the Arts and Diana Ayton-Shenker, Sally Kitch, and Briana Noonan at ASU’s Leonardo for their generous support of this project. Many thanks to ASU’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre and Phoenix Center for the Arts for offering the space to create, and to MDT staff members Adrienne Goglia, Lori Pollock, and Michelle Pyde for helping with business operations. A huge shout out to all the friends, colleagues, and family members who have offered inspiration, insight, and encouragement throughout the creative process: Eileen Standley, Raymond C. Shaw, Denise Rapp, Coley Curry, Sumana Mandala, Alexis Solano, Imani Etter, Monique Kelley, Maddie Lasco, and Suzanna Varela.