SUU Dancers Support Suicide Awareness Through Their Art

Published: September 26, 2022 | Author: Kol Gibson | Read Time: 4 minutes

Dance for Life performersOn Saturday, September 10, 2022, Professor Danielle Lydia Sheather and five of her students showcased their talents at the Dance for Life Suicide Awareness Gala at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah. Kallie Barney, Lauren Cheree, Bailey Walker, Elley White, and Olivia Willden performed a segment of Knew, Know, Now, originally choreographed by Professor Sheather with contributions by the original cast members for the Fall 2021 Faculty Dance Concert Wading Below.

Knew, Know, Now is an excerpt of a larger work entitled Ofliminal Noise, which highlights the dancing and movement practices of the five dancers. The choreography tells a story that is at first halted and filled with anxiety, then moves to a release of tension, and ends with contentment and peace. Sheather and her students originally molded it without ever turning on the music and then transposed the work to the sound. 

“Truly the work is as much the dancers’ as it is mine,” explains Danielle. “I wanted to raise the voices of the dancers because we all feel things in a very different way and the journey to contentment isn’t the same. The dancers yielded to their vulnerability as they became more comfortable with the work, themselves, and each other.”

Though the dance was not originally inspired by suicide awareness and prevention, it does convey the struggle that many go through when facing obstacles in their lives. Lauren Cheree, a senior Dance major and Philosophy minor felt that the dance helped her through one of the hardest journeys of her life: 

“When we first choreographed this dance a year ago, I was struggling with my physical health,” she says. “Danielle gave me the full range to mold the dynamics of my solo into how I was feeling. Revisiting the dance a year later offered closure and overwhelming peace because I have healed and changed so much. It showed me that I am my strongest asset and that there is hope for change.”

Bailey Walker, who graduated with a degree in Dance Education last spring shares, “The piece we performed became a vessel through which we were able to honor the journeys of those we love who have struggled. Standing on the Capitol Theater stage, I recognized the power of dance as a method of comprehension, healing, and activism.”

Performing in support of suicide awareness was a transformative experience for the dancers, but it was also educational. “We were exposed to a new environment with new people, and I think there are definitely things to be discovered when you’re not in the comfort of your usual surroundings,” explains junior Dance major, Olivia Willden. “It is amazing that so many dancers and members of the community came together to support the arts and suicide awareness. I am incredibly grateful to Danielle and the Theatre, Dance, and Arts Administration department for supporting and funding the experience for us.”

Dance For Life was created in July 2018 after its director, Kristin Barlow, became determined to do something about the growing rate of suicides in Utah. The organization aims to bring awareness and eliminate the stigma of mental health by increasing access to mental health services and through the proven therapeutic properties of dance and other programs that promote mental health. The Dance for Life Suicide Awareness Gala included performances from ensembles around the state with the goal of raising money to support the organization’s mission.

The dance experience at SUU engages students in a rich diversity of experiences aimed to cultivate their aesthetic, creative, and scholarly potential. To learn more about the University’s Dance program, visit

About the College of Performing and Visual Arts

The College of Performing and Visual Arts (CPVA) at Southern Utah University comprises 41 academic programs including liberal arts (BA/BS) and professional (BFA, BM, BMEd) degrees in art, design, dance, filmmaking, music, and theatre. It includes graduate programs in the fields of arts administration (MFA, MA), music education (MME), and music technology (MM). More than 60 full-time faculty and staff are engaged in teaching and mentoring over 900 majors in the College. CPVA presents over 100 performances, lectures, presentations, and exhibitions each year and is affiliated with the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the Center for Shakespeare Studies. Southern Utah University is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD), National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) making SUU the first public university in the state of Utah to be accredited by all four associations. For more information about the College of Performing and Visual Arts, visit

Tags: Dance Theatre Arts and Dance College of Performing and Visual Arts

Contact Information:

Contact the Office of Marketing Communication