Dancing with Thorns

This post is part of a series submitted by Gabriella Huggins, Community Programs Mentor at Spy Hop in Salt Lake City, Utah. The four posts in the series — The Window, Mock Identity, CO2, and Dancing with Thorns — are all created by youth from Spy Hop. Gabriella offers a perspective on the series that offers her insight into the connective tissues between the media and how it connects to the central theme of this Special Issue.

Time is fluid. To disconnect past, present, and future is a nearly impossible and arguably irresponsible task. Though specific to each individual in the intimacy of the here and now, the time of “now” is inextricably connected to the events of the past and crucial in shaping transitions into the future. As an individual, a woman and person of color, the child of immigrants, I am always aware of how my person is connected to time. The past trauma of my ancestors lives in my body, challenging me in the present to learn self love, as well as to practice boldness moving forward, to imagine a time in which equity and understanding are truly foundational in our global community. As a mentor to youth, I encourage in my students this critical understanding of the connectedness of their actions to the past and future, especially as they decide what stories to tell and the messages they want to send. How has the past limited people like them, and people unlike them? How is broad access to media in the present important in shaping cultural narratives? How are they, as citizens and creators, responsible to themselves and others in creating a future they can feel safe in and proud of?

Mary Nejatifar and Peque Curiel’s Dancing with Thorns, a PitchNic 2016 documentary short, follows three Utahans diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease as they use modern dance as movement therapy. The film explores how time, a fundamental feature of dance pedagogy, can be controlled and manipulated within a body ailing from the effects of time.

About the Authors

Mary Nejatifar, is a student at Salt Lake Community College.  Dancing with Thorns is her first film project.  She is hoping to pursue a career in movement therapy in the future.




Peque Curiel, 18, attends Salt Lake Community College. He loves to do Art & Media, and is proud of his culture and beliefs. He plans to live and start small in León, Mexico.