“Drop In. Drop Out. Bring a Friend.”

That is the tag line for a new event coming to UNC Greensboro in February through a partnership between Duke University Arts and the UNCG School of Dance.

Those are also literally the only instructions for the event, according to Caitlyn Schrader (’22 MFA Dance), CVPA’s Director or Community Engagement, who is co-curating the event, along with School of Dance Director Lee Walton and kt williams (’23 MFA Dance).

The event is called Meshroom, and Schrader promises that it will be an experience that you will not soon forget:

“It’s kind of wild. You walk into something that is so unfamiliar. It’s almost difficult to describe because it is so experimental. It’s not like ‘come see this play’ or ‘come see this dance performance,’ because it’s not that. It does involve work from visual artists, musicians, and movement artists, but there’s no stage, no script, no rehearsals. It is strictly improvisational. It’s more about process than product.”

Meshroom was co-created by Marika Niko, a dancer and choreographer from Japan, with fellow student Leo Ryan, when they were at Duke University earning their MFAs in Social Choreography. In promotional materials, Niko calls Meshroom a “performance environment that forms an intellectual/intentional community around an open space. It is a space to move, rest, chill, witness, think, melt, and (if compelled) dance with live music and occasional performances.”

The first Meshroom was hosted at Duke Arts in March 2022 with one musical collaborator and four friends who were “open to performing something.” Now she hosts a Meshroom every three months:

“It was a slow growth. After the first one, I started to make my way through the artistic landscape across not only Duke, but also Durham; I am still learning. Along the way, I think the work resonated with many, both the philosophy and practice, and those responses have pushed me to host the work at an off-campus venue or start a collaboration with a different institution, like this one with UNC Greensboro.”

Schrader describes the structure of Meshroom as fluid:

“It’s like an amoeba—the ways things change shape the whole time you’re in it. It’s a little bit like riding a wave. There’s a twenty-minute open space—time for people to respond to what’s around them, the art installation, the resting spaces with couches and lamps—then there’s a ten-minute performative event. Then there’s another twenty minutes open and another ten-minute performance, so it’s doing this in and out thing, like the walls of an amoeba.”

Following that science angle, Schrader says Meshroom can also be likened to a petri dish where elements are added into an environment, and something grows from that.

“The experience is designed to last two hours, but you can come in and stay as long as you’d like (that’s the ‘drop in, drop out’ part). There will be places to sit and absorb. You can relax and take it all in, but if you’re called to respond, you can join in in whatever way you’d like. That might mean movement or vocal participation. If that’s not your comfort level, there are stations for interacting in a non-performative way. You just do your thing.”

School of Dance Director Lee Walton credits an alumna of UNCG’s School of Art for helping to bring Meshroom to Greensboro:

“Seeds for this partnership had been planted over the years, and last semester Anna Wallace (’18 MFA Studio Arts), who is now Student Engagement Coordinator for Duke Arts, made the connection between Marika Niko’s social choreography and the School of Dance’s eagerness to create interdisciplinary experiences. This is a great example of how our teaching contributes to an ever-expanding community of exchange and relationships.”

“The collaboration with UNC Greensboro came so naturally to me,” says Niko. My thesis advisor, Pedro Lasch (social practice artist at Duke), as well as my coworker Anna Wallace, both connected me to Lee Walton at UNCG, considering our mutual interest towards social practice and embodied movement. With my enthusiasm to see Meshroom applied elsewhere and Lee’s curiosity towards this social choreographic initiative, the collaboration organically unfolded.”

Walton says that Meshroom aligns perfectly with what the UNCG School of Dance and the College of Visual and Performing Arts is aiming for in terms of interdisciplinarity:

“The composer and philosopher John Cage once said, ‘Art is sort of an experimental station in which one tries out living.’ In this spirit, Meshroom uses methods of choreography to create this kind of space where people can live and breathe together in a new way—even if temporarily. This kind of experience becomes embodied for each person and may change the way that students think and approach creativity. Bringing together art, dance, music, and theater creates an immersive experience, fostering new connections among people (socially) and ideas (cognitively).”

Schrader agrees:

“Meshroom is a model for a new way to collaborate. It’s valid for a dancer and musician to collaborate on a piece or for a dancer to work with the School of Theatre to choreograph a musical. It’s terrific that these opportunities exist. But this is a more experiential model of what interdisciplinarity can look like. It blurs the lines of creative practice, and that’s exciting. And it’s reflective of what’s happening a lot in the creative world beyond the University.”

The event at the School of Dance will be the first time that Meshroom has been produced outside of Durham. UNCG’s first Meshroom will be held in the School of Dance, but organizers say the event is modular and could easily be done in other buildings in the Schools of Art, Music, and Theatre. Most of the participants this go around have ties to UNCG, either as a student, faculty, staff member, or an alum, but there are plans to open it up to a broader group of artists in the future:

“It’s a great way to bring the Greensboro community to campus, into our College, to see our spaces and to experience what’s happening with our artists,” says Schrader. “It’s also a new way to get our students and faculty into the different areas of the College. It’s so easy for us to become siloed because the semester is so busy, and our curriculum is so robust. So, the more opportunities that we can provide, the better.

“Not only is it our obligation to teach technique and to offer the traditional exhibition and performance platforms, it’s also up to us to help students explore more experiential ways to make their art, which can make them more viable in the professional world. This is the best place to do that. Risk-taking is easy at UNCG, where students are supported by such great faculty and staff.”


February 27, 2024

7:00–9:00 pm

Studio 201A, Coleman Building

Free and open to the public




Movement Artists:

Joe Blocker

Marielis Garcia (Assistant Professor of Dance)

Angelica Kankam (MFA Student, School of Dance)

Caitlyn Schrader (’22 MFA Dance, Director of Community Engagement and Director of Greensboro Project Space)

kt williams (’23 MFA Dance)



Michael Grigoni

Sean Mulcahy (’20 BM Composition)

Carole Ott Coelho (Professor of Choral Music and Conducting)

Poah West


Visual Artists:

Kasia Ozga (Assistant Professor of Sculpture)

Derek Toomes (Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture)

Desmond Wiley (Technical Director for the School of Dance)

Heidi Zenisek



Lee Walton (Director of the Schol of Dance)

Teresa Heiland (Professor of Dance Education)

Savannah Jenkins (Administrative Assistant for the School of Dance)

Curated by Lee Walton, Caitlyn Schrader, and kt williams

Story by Terri W. Relos

Photo credit: Chris Charles, Courtesy of Duke Arts