September 02, 2021

Professional dancer Sokeo Ros ’20G is new director of Center at Moore Hall

By Maeve Hickey ’21, ’22G

The new director of the Center at Moore Hall is a professional dancer, artist, educator, and activist who plans to introduce more arts programming during the new academic year.

Sokeo Ros ’20G has a personal and professional background that is far from ordinary. He was born in the back of a semi-trailer truck, which had been converted to a makeshift medical center, in a refugee camp in Thailand as his family fled the Cambodian Genocide. His family was sponsored to immigrate to the United States when he was 2. After four years of moving around the country, they landed in Providence. Ros has called Providence home since he was 6 years old and it’s where he turned breakdancing into a career.

Ros found his passion for dance and the arts at the Carriage House (now the Everett Company). His family was still healing from the hardships they endured, and Ros’s future was uncertain. “It takes a village to raise a child,” Ros emphasized, and he views that village as his peers and mentors at the Carriage House.

Ros’s first style was breakdancing, but he now performs all styles of dance, including ballet, modern, and numerous street dance styles. He considers himself an “all-styles” dancer who combines all types of dance techniques.“I started break dancing as a hobby, and then my hobby became my passion,” Ros said. “It challenges me physically and emotionally. I would not be here today without it. It was my savior.”

Sokeo Ros '20G, director of Center at Moore Hall
Sokeo Ros ’20G in front of the mural in the lobby of the Center at Moore Hall. He has been interim director of the multicultural space since September 2020 and holds a master’s degree in urban teaching from the college. (Photo by Kari Perez ’22)

The adversity that his parents endured made them skeptical at first about his plans to pursue his passion as a dancer and performer. But he credits dancing with opening up a world of opportunities. He spent the past two decades, from 1999 to 2017, touring the country, presenting shows and workshops alongside artists from esteemed performing arts schools, such as The Julliard School. He also performed solo shows for TEDx Providence.

Providence is also where Ros decided to raise his daughter, Keily Angelina. Keily also has a passion for dance and performed in Ros’s show, “From Refugee Camp to Project.”

Ros received his undergraduate degree with the help of College Unbound, where he now serves on the faculty, before pursuing a master’s degree in urban teaching at PC in 2018. The college “had everything I wanted” in a program of study, and he said he did not have one class that didn’t excite him.

During his time as a PC student, Ros worked as a graduate assistant for the Center at Moore Hall. He got a chance to work closely with undergraduate students.

“The students, departments, and individuals that welcomed me with open arms brought a lot of excitement and sense of belonging for me,” Ros said. “What drew me to this place was the students. How lively they became when they were in here, and how they were authentically who they are, and that’s beautiful.”

The Center at Moore Hall was home to PC’s Development of Western Civilization Program for many years. After the Ruane Center for the Humanities opened in 2013, the center was remodeled and repurposed in 2017 as a home for multicultural programming. It features collaborative rooms, an active learning classroom, a café and kitchen, a lounge and a dance studio.

Ros spoke about the center with pride. He said he is overjoyed to be the director after serving as interim director since September 2020. Being welcomed into the Providence College community elicited the same emotion as watching his usually unemotional parents show pride in him for the first time, he said.

“I was extremely excited,” Ros said. “I never would have thought I would be in this position, given my personal experiences. I never thought I would be the director of anything.”

Sokeo Ros '20G, director of Center at Moore Hall
Sokeo Ros ’20G

Ros said he is looking forward to re-meeting people personally, since his time as interim director was mostly remote due to the pandemic.

“I definitely think that I have some new things to offer with my background in working with communities, organizing, activism, and collaborating with different organizations for the last 20 years,” Ros said.

He plans to incorporate more of the arts into the center. Ros said he considers everyone an artist in their own way. He wants his influence to expand beyond the center’s walls.

He wants to introduce a program called “Movement Language,” which “explores dance as a form of expression, healing, and language.” He wants to introduce “The Stage is Yours: It’s Your Story, You Tell It,” which would allow students to “explore the intersectionality of self through storytelling and other forms of creative arts.”

Ros hopes to work with other departments, such as Black Studies and Global Studies. He also hopes to collaborate with the Department of Theatre, Dance, & Film to come up with creative ways to bring more of the arts to the center and to campus in general.

“I am here to work with historically marginalized and excluded folks, and I am here for everybody else too. Because we are here to learn from each other and learn with each other, and I’m excited for that,” Ros said. “This is a beautiful campus, with a lot of amazing people, and I’m just happy to be a part of that and to creatively work towards change.”

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