Dat Nguyen, a native from Vietnam, is a choreographer, photographer, filmmaker, and visual artist currently based in Salt Lake City, Utah. He received his BFA degree in Dance at Sam Houston State University and is pursuing an MFA degree in Modern Dance with a Screendance Certificate at the University of Utah – School of Dance.
As a choreographer, Dat employs collage as a way to tell his story that often leads to the somatic experience and understanding of his complexed identity. As a visual artist, Dat loves exploring different media/technologies and their often intangible relationship with dance. This allows him to expand his artistic landscapes and understand the dancing bodies through invigorated perspectives. He founded his own business - MotionVivid™ - in 2014 to further his research and expand his artistic practice to local communities that he is serving.
His theatrical works and collaborations have been seen at multiple venues and festivals around the country, including 12 Minute Max, Bailando International Dance Festival, MUDSON, Marriott Center for Dance, Jim & Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center, and The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. His photos have been seen in major publications, including Salt Lake City Weekly, SLUG Magazine, loveDANCEmore, and PhotoVouge by Vouge Italia.
At the moment, Dat focuses his research on performance and its relationship to the spectacle - a theory developed by French philosopher Guy Debord that tackles inequality and injustice in terms of mass media, entertainment, art, and the capitalist economy.
“Nguyen shakes things up nicely, commanding even those audience members who think they are progressive and enlightened sufficiently to realize that many artists might prefer playing it safe in Utah’s peculiar culture of sanctioned perfectionism.” Les Roka from The Utah Review
Art needs to be bold! It needs to be loud, personal, political, yet it also needs to be subtle, sociable, and multidimensional. Art is created in the midst of tension – the tension of wanting to say something but not having the expression for it. Therefore, art always struggles between clarity and confusion, certainty and ambiguity, literary and abstraction. Because whether art’s purpose is to portray or provoke, it needs to open doors to many landscapes that we, as humans, can occupy and reflect on ourselves and our journeys, alone as individual or together as humanity.
And yet, for art to be anything or everything of the above, it needs to be coerced into existence, for to define what art means is to deny the limitless possibilities of what it could be beyond that barrier, and that is violence. Art has its own freedom. It traverses between perceiving and being perceived. It negotiates between intention and reception. It breaks down boundaries, but not to build new ones. Our need for art and its spirituality is as innate as our need to survive, and our experiences with art are often profound and transcendental, which is the reason why one should never chase after its essence, for transcendence is an encounter and never a goal! I say, let art walk on its own, because regardless, it is going to, for it will forever remain the wild untamed mystery.
My arts on stage – spectacles
My drawings are erased
For the sake of art – stay awake
But lay down to absorb its totality
Living in a world inundated with spectacles, my mind is always operating at the speed of hundreds of miles per hour; it is exposed to thousands of sensations and micro-sensations at once. This overstimulation, boxed in a confined physical body – one that is socially defined by its shape, stage, sexuality, and color – yearn for its own freedom and decompression. With this craving, I start creating. This is my art, I often say, but the truth is don’t know what it is, but I know that I have something to say and I always work on finding ways to say it – anything that works. Today it may be dance, tomorrow it could just be screaming.
The art says “Let me be your spectacle!”, and I say “Only if you let me have a peak into myself.”
Stage Choreography/Installation Performance