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Dalton Sessumes

Performance Artist

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    Alumnus Dalton Sessumes makes a brilliant display of balancing art and physics.

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    As part of his Visionary series, Sessumes shows art by Jake Amason and Stephen Kruse through his leviwand.

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    A composite photo showing a leviwand fire trail mixed with a fire breath.

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    Sessumes demonstrates a smoke prop he invented while studying for his master’s degree at UTA.

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    Sessumes collaborted with Michelle Stawski (concept and design), Trent di Giulio (photography) and Anja Yamaji (body paint) to create aesthetic scenes to incorporate into music video clips and large-scale light projection visuals.

Dalton sessumes (’16 BS, ’18 MS, Physics) walks between worlds, balancing a keen intellectual interest in the inner workings of things, from small machines to the vastness of the universe, with a kind of performance art that allows him to create stunning displays of light and movement for an audience.

“In one way or another, I’ve been struggling with the balance between art and science my entire life,” he says. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve needed to find an equilibrium between them to be happy.”

At UTA, Sessumes indulged his scientific side, gaining knowledge and experience that he considers to be foundational to his work as a performance artist.

“Through UTA, I was able to work at the Fermilab, where I was able to literally climb inside particle detectors and disassemble and reassemble them. Along with the software side, I was exposed to working on very technical things to produce something beautiful,” he says. “And through my physics courses, I gained the ability to look at complex problems or complex creations and dissect them into individual mechanisms I knew I could grasp. Those skills were something I developed by banging my head against various quantum physics problems that were not easy in any sense—that mindset helped a lot.”

Watch His Performance Highlights

As a performer, Sessumes has traveled the world with Cirque du Soleil. He’s also made a name for himself as an innovator in the flow arts community, exploring the various implications of light as a medium, from LED props to holographic light projection. And in 2017, he founded a company, MindWorks, to provide performance entertainment, like circus or character work, for companies and events.

In the new normal shaped by COVID-19, Sessumes says he is both blessed and cursed by the constraints on his ability to perform for an audience. But thanks to his art, he is able to see this time as a good kind of challenge—the kind you can grow from.

“If it’s too easy, you’re going to get bored with it, and if it’s too challenging, you’re going to feel defeated—so there has to be a balance between them,” he says. “It’s a radical acceptance of what’s happening in the here and now and moving through it.”

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