UCSB’s Spring Dance recital shows the impact of a visiting choreographer
UCSB’S SPRING CONCERT
When: 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday, April 11 – 13; 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: UCSB’s Hatlen Theater
Cost: $20 – $12
Information: http://www.theaterdance.ucsb.edu or 805-893-2064
Though nearly a year since he was in town, choreographer Doug Elkins is still having an effect upon Santa Barbara. Apart from his own work that will be performed by UCSB’s Dance department, his influence can be found in all of the six pieces created by senior BFA students in this recital.
“I can see it in all of their work,” says director Christina McCarthy. “They all have pulled a different skill or a different way of seeing things after their time with Doug.” Some have pulled ideas from his partnering work techniques, some explore pop culture, or the vocabulary of floor work.
“Doug has an encyclopedic knowledge of dance, visual arts, and he reads a lot,” she continues. “He’s a sponge.”
The Elkins’ piece, “Kintsugi,” is a part of the whole work he brought to DanceWorks at the Lobero.
“His brain is so sharp with connections, he sees them everywhere,” Ms. McCarthy says. And now she is seeing the connections between her summer guest and her students.
Johnny Cox has created a trio that explores gender expression and sexuality in the context of a disco. (Already this sounds like an Elkins piece). With period music and a disco ball above, its’ “almost a comedy/burlesque at the beginning, but then there’s a trun in the piece that says, yes, we may peacock our way with costumes, but we’re all humans underneath it all, just trying to figure out our way in the world.”
Autobiographical struggles with ADHD form the backbone of Luis Gomez’ work, which includes projections of brain maps, theatrical storytelling, and movement based dance. Some of the dancers play doctors and patients; the others play abstractions of the mind.
Sergio Barrientos is a “physical genius,” Ms. McCarthy says. “When he moves you know he understands momentum, timing, and it feels like it comes from this non-verbal space, where the body is an instrument.” The piece by Mr. Barrientos has a sexy, physical feel to it, she says, and while the story is somewhat hidden, audiences will certainly feel it.
Colin Sneddon’s piece examines memory in Alzheimer’s patients and how music and art can help. With a live piano on stage, Mr. Sneddon focuses on an older musician who finds that he can no longer trust his memory, while also being revisited by the ghosts of former muses. “If feels like a little mini play,” Ms. McCarthy says about the dance. “It’s been carefully crafted to take you through the decay of the mind.”
Music is always a huge part of dance, but Jasmine Agodano has taken her track and cut it up, looped it, digitally shredded it for her work. “I can see the Elkins in that love of collage,” Ms. McCarthy says. “And though she’s not trained in hip hop or breakdance, it’s been translated through her own movement vocabulary. It reminded me of Kandinsky’s drawings where all the lines, designs, and complexity of the work.”
Selfishness and altruism, both taken to extremes, were the starting point for Maddie Takemori’s work, but Ms. McCarthy helped open up the work more until Ms. McCarthy describes it “like an English garden, with carefully curated movement — it is not a big bombastic piece, it’s a quiet exploration of those extremes.”
As artistic director, Ms. McCarthy is the self-proclaimed “midwife” to the student work. “It’s important to me that I’m not there to solve their choreographic problems … I ask questions instead.”