UCSB Theater/Dance Spring Dance Concert FIVE QUIETS Runs Now thru 4/13
The Department of Theater & Dance at UCSB continues its 2013-2014 season of drama and dance with the Spring Dance Concert - "Five Quiets," under the direction of UCSB Theater & Dance Associate Professor Mira Kingsley and Lecturer Christina McCarthy. The Spring Dance concert performs today, April 11-12, 2014 at 8:00 pm and April 13 at 2:00 pm in the Hatlen Theater on the UCSB campus.
This year's Spring Dance Concert will include two works by guest choreographers set on our Student Company. The first work, a new piece titled "This is the Way it Ended" by Alexandra Beller was created specifically for the Company. "Usually, when guest choreographers come, we only have time for them to quickly teach an existing dance. There are benefits to this kind of fast paced learning because the students have to work to fit themselves into a role that was created for another dancer. It makes them stretch," says McCarthy. Moving away from the standard model, Alexandra Beller tapped into the specific talents of the Company dancers to create a custom dance just for them. Discussing the value of having an original piece made for the students, Christina McCarthy says, "Having a piece composed specifically for the students is beneficial in another way. It feeds the dancers creative fire and validates their way of expressing. The dancers are very personally invested in the material they are performing. This investment brings a raw immediacy to what is happening on stage. The students in her work are fully present, not only as dancers, but as humans."
The second piece the Student Company is performing, "Songs for Chile," is a modern dance masterwork from former José Limón dancer, Lucas Hoving. Two Professor Emeriti from UC Santa Barbara, Alice Condodina and Tonia Shimin have reconstructed the dance and share an intimate connection with the piece - having performed together in the original cast in 1981. Students are presented with a different set of challenges when performing a historical piece. "When the students have the opportunity to not only step into a dance made for other dancers, but a historical work as well, something magical happens to their dancing. 'Songs for Chile' is classical modern dance that is technically challenging in a way that their bodies are not familiar with. The modern dance movement vocabularies of the past were vernacular to the dancers of the time. They felt comfortable in the transitions and modes of locomotion. The students now live in another vernacular and have to wake themselves up to the slightly different dialect of movement ideas that are foundational in this older work," explains McCarthy.
Also included in the program are five new dances choreographed by senior Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) students, Wilson Vu, Kate Lyons, Kasey Burgunder, Heather Mignon Cross, and Dakota Bailey. BFA students are chosen in their sophomore year and pursue a rigorous training program in dance technique and choreography. Their work on the spring concert is their final choreographic project before they graduate. Acting as their mentor, Christina McCarthy assists the students walk the fine line between balancing their personal approaches and styles while pushing their limits to dig further into the craft of choreography in general.
BFA student Wilson Vu knew very strongly what his piece was about from the beginning. His piece, entitled "Ad astra," meaning "to the stars" in Latin, explores the emotional states of the human mind when one is forced to encounter an unavoidable tragedy. Drawing from Kübler Ross's model of the five stages of grief, "Ad astra" examines and digs into the psychological potential within us to expose the naked vulnerability residing in the human soul. Finishing his work early, Wilson is now focused on pulling strong performances out of his dancers.
Interested in unearthing the unique voices in the dancers for the duet "she always does this," BFA student Kate Lyons has been working improvisationally with her dancers from the start. Kate's piece, inspired by the grit and power of blues music, is loosely based on a long-standing friendship. The movement is personal and intimate, coming from a place of emotion and mundanity, but twisting realism to take us into the world of their inner minds, not just the external trappings of a witnessed interaction.
Inspired, and haunted by a painting of a solitary woman seated in a chair, alone and in grief, BFA student Kasey Burgunder created "Left Undone," which explores the emotional struggle we endure when dealing with sorrow. The work expresses the fine line between resolving or being completely consumed by our struggles. Kasey has been most interested in exploring the process of these emotions rather than defining a conclusion about what becomes of us in the aftermath. Her piece asks the question, "Who are we in the moment of vulnerability?"
"Breach of Descendants," choreographed by BFA student Heather Mignon Cross is an exploration of alternative movement vocabulary asking the dancers to inhabit an other-worldly extraterrestrial realm where they embody an "other being" while exploring the ordinary aspects of our own every day life including birth, growth, love and loss. With the use of hanging pods and a very intricate movement vocabulary, Heather has challenged her dancers to take on a specificity in their dancing that pushes them out of their own movement habits.
BFA student Dakota Bailey has tapped into the mind tilting experience of studying abroad to imbue her dance, "of the many adventures," with humor and the skewed reality that living among humans of a different culture can bring. The dancers in the piece are other, but only slightly. Using slyly fun renditions of "Eh Cumpari," "Mambo Italiano," and "On an Evening in Roma," we peek into a diorama view of her experiences.
Student choreographers face the beautiful challenge of presenting their work alongside older and more experienced choreographers in addition to performing in the works created by Alexandra Beller and Lucas Hoving. Christina McCarthy stresses the importance of the collaboration. "The students are getting a first rate education through their deep immersion in this concert both as dancers and choreographers. They are stepping up to the excellent standard set by their elders. The concert is full of pathos, emotion, life and vibrancy."
"Five Quiets" performs April 11 - 13, 2014 in the UCSB Hatlen Theater. Tickets are available online at www.theaterdance.ucsb.edu and by phone at 805.893.7221. Visit the Theater & Dance website for more details: www.theaterdance.ucsb.edu.