For Fulbright Alumna, Dance Is Diplomacy

For Fulbright Alumna, Dance Is Diplomacy

A gesture of the arm. A heel striking a hardwood floor. A head tilt. To watch Bridgit Luján (M.F.A. ’21) dance is to witness an artist whose message transcends words. To hear her talk about her dance research is to realize her message crosses borders and connects worlds.

“Flamenco speaks to many aspects of Spain that are relevant today,” Luján said, speaking with Wilson Magazine
in August. Her work explores how flamenco can serve as a form of diplomacy, forming an artistic and diplomatic bridge between Morocco and Spain – a focus she was able to rediscover and hone as a 2022-23 Fulbright Scholar.

Seeing Spain with new eyes
As a Fulbright Scholar, Luján lived in Sevilla, Spain under the auspices of Universidad Pablo de Olavide, pursuing academic and creative research for her project “Flamenco Dance: Parody and Response.” She presented seminars, workshops, and performances in Pamplona and Cáceres, Spain, and in Tangier, Morocco. “Even though I’ve been to Spain over a dozen times before, staying there long- term allowed me to see flamenco in a different way,” Luján said.

Inspiring cohort collaboration
The research that led to Luján’s Fulbright work took its first baby steps in the diverse cohort she found in Wilson’s Master of Fine Arts program. A classmate introduced her to commedia dell’arte, a theatrical form rooted
in Renaissance Italy that features improvisation within standard narrative forms and stock characters representing common archetypes.

Luján saw not only echoes of the form in flamenco but opportunities to approach dance through a new creative lens. She began exploring the role of parody in flamenco and the dialogue of imitation within historical and contemporary questions of cultural identity and place. “Meeting someone in a field so different from mine inspired a different area of research,” she said.

Dance with destiny
Looking back on her Wilson experience, Luján says it feels like a dance with destiny. She learned about the M.F.A. program by accident when she glanced over a post on an email listserv by M.F.A. Program Director Joshua Legg. The multidisciplinary, nontraditional path drew her in.

“This program is very supportive and open to doing a completely different style of dance,” she said.

The next twist of fate was connecting with José Galán, her discipline-specific mentor from Spain. “Connecting with a professional flamenco artist and scholar in Spain as a mentor was a life-changing experience,” Luján said. As she deepened her artistic vision and research, the faculty encouraged her to look deeper. During an on-campus mentor session, guest faculty member Jim Condron encouraged her to pursue the famously selective Fulbright scholar program.

“Jim really pushed and encouraged me to complete the Fulbright application, and Philip Lindsey and Joshua Legg had upskilled my ability to talk about my work,” Luján said. “Those parts of my M.F.A. experience were huge reasons I was able to write a successful application.”

“Bridgit has always asked well-crafted questions about her work, the systems she works within and pushes against, and always moves the language forward,” said Lindsey, professor of fine art. “Asking well-crafted questions…leads to the kind of relationships, skills, and creative growth that make stories like Bridgit’s possible.”

Next steps
At home in New Mexico, Luján manages a multifaceted dance career including teaching positions at Central New Mexico Community College, where she teaches flamenco, and the Honors College at the University of New Mexico, teaching the course Dance as Diplomacy. She also writes for Dance Magazine and wrote the chapter “Dance in Spain” for the book Dance Cultures Around the World, published this year. And she’s continuing the work she began in Spain.

“I saw many aspects of Spain, such as immigration, the neocolonialism of tourism, and cultural history, that will probably branch out my research beyond Spain,” she said. She credits much of her success, as a Fulbright Scholar and beyond, to the unique experience the Wilson M.F.A. program gave her: “Honestly, I don’t think there’s a program in the United States that can compare.”

Learn more about the Fulbright Scholars Program at

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