CSULB’s Dance Department showcases their semester’s work

Long Beach ladies gracefully perform “Current” with choreography by Lorin Johnson

Story by Renee Schmiedeberg   Assistant Managing Editor, Photos by Gregory R.R. Crosby   Contributor

At the end of every semester, our school’s Dance Department combines pieces students have been working on all semester in one great show, CSULB Dance in Concert at the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater.

All the choreography is original and entirely composed by dance department faculty. The show is comprised of five pieces. 

The first piece, “ASKQUESTIONSLATER: Two of Countless Scenarios,” is the only piece to utilize video. 

During this performance, the dancers made handgun gestures and playfully shot at each other, while a video of a dog owner similarly shooting at a small pup echoed on the widescreen. The dancers continued these light-hearted, comical gestures, while saying “I trust you” throughout the piece. 

Gradually, the atmosphere transitioned into one of fear and suspicion as their stances took on those of a homicidal, sharp-shooter. The transition between these two disparate feelings, love and fear, was expertly done, occuring slowly and evenly. 

I wasn’t sure if the stage was really swathed in a pinkish, warm glow until the second of the two segments came on, this time bathing the stage in a subtle blue light.

Dancers prove that words are futile. “Gather Up the Fragments;” choreography by Rebecca Lemme

The word “fear” appeared on the screen. Like this piece’s first half, emotions were expertly conveyed. 

It displayed a video of a person breaking and entering a home while the dancers expressed hesitant, curt movements. 

The words, “African-American male, 26” rolled across the screen as the man described took center stage. The other dancers surrounded him, hardly allowing him to enough room to breathe. 

Along with the caption, this led me to believe this piece is a response to the recent surge in coverage of gun violence in the U.S. I commend the creators for approaching this relevant issue so effectively—portraying controversy is not easy.

There are a multitude of ways to interpret a piece of artwork, even more so if the piece doesn’t contain words. 

In my mind, the use of gym-like benches in “Prite Oef Stringh” cemented the dancers in an adolescent age, attending school day after day. I felt it described the life of a student recognized for talent, but repeatedly disappoints himself and those around him in a struggle to succeed academically. 

As someone who automatically turns to written language to convey meaning and communicate, I’m always amazed at how our school’s dancers are able to interact solely through body movements and music. 

The dancers moved so fluidly that until the music stopped and their heavy footfalls sounded, I would forget they were made of flesh and bone, too.

“Folk Dance for a Gay ex-Methodist White Boy,” (who doesn’t get excited at a name like that) had to be the closing piece.

This dance was bouncy, fun and effervescent all the way through, while still keeping a narrative intact. The colorful stage and lights bled into each other, while the dancers folded their movements into one another against the backdrop of a buoyant, uplifting song. 

Laughter is contagious in “Folk Dance for a Gay ex-Methodist White Boy;” choreography by Andrew Vaca

At the end, the dancers ran out into the audience and began clapping, then returned to the stage and sat at the edge, only a few feet away from those in the first row. 

Anyone could see all the dancers were having a riotous time and didn’t want anyone in the audience to miss out on it either. 

It was infectious—I couldn’t help thinking, how can anyone in this room be a in a bad mood with this going on? 

The next show will play on Apr. 20 to 23.

Be sure to check their website closer to the date for times and ticket prices, this show is known to sell out fast.

Dancers passionately portray “ASKQUESTIONSLATER;” choreography by Rebecca Bryant


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