UCSB’s Kinetic Lab give junior choreographers chance to shine
When: 5 and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday
Where: UCSB’s HSSB Ballet Studio
Information: events.ucsb.edu/event/kinetic-lab or (805) 893-2064
Brandon Whited is UCSB’s dance department’s youngest member, and it has fallen to him to helm Kinetic Lab, which for some up and coming choreographers will be the first time they have presented a piece in front of an audience. Designed for UCSB juniors, participants in the Lab are given five weeks, a a time limit, and a maximum of six dancers. And Whited brings not only his knowledge of dance, but must shepherd his dancing flock through some serious bouts of nerves.
“Often they are working through some very personal and intense material,” Whited says. “That can be scary, but also cathartic…It becomes a conversation about how you can be ethical in pursuit of those subjects that can be sexual assault, or domestic violence, or depression or anxiety, any number of things, all of which are ever present in their mind.”
That doesn’t mean that audiences are in for a bummer of an evening–this is still a place to see bodies in motion, hear beautiful music, and be in the company of some brilliant minds.
The eleven choreographers chosen for the show are Guillermo Castro, Lihong Chan, Lexi Cipriano, Wes Dameron, Joyceline Fekete, Morgan Geraghty, Lilian Gonzalez, Colson Lynn, Whitney Ross, Gina Schemenauer, and Mason Teichert. And their work is as diverse as they are, from traditional ballet to hip hop. The choreographers work with sophomore lighting designers and senior costume designers.
Gina Schemenauer’s “Saint of Soldiers” is set to open the first half, a classical all-female quintet set to Max Richter’s modern classical music and inspired by the iconography and tale of Joan of Arc.
“sculpt” by Colson Lynn is a collaboration with his dancers set to electronic music by Iku and Jon Hopkins. This is a lot more abstract and intimate, and Whited compares it to the physical architecture of Pilobolus Dance. Morgan Geraghty’s “Coalesce” is a trio that works in a very quiet understated way with sudden bursts of movement.
Joyceline Fekete’s taps into anxiety in her so-far-untitled piece, a frenetic, “itchy” piece for a trio set to Michael Wall’s “Trumpet 5.” While that’s relatable to all students, so is Lilian Gonzalez’ “All at Once,” which takes on the monstrous amount of work and social obligations facing undergrads. Skittering electronics by Apparat make for an intense piece, which Whited calls a “more is more” approach.
The first half ends on a positive tip with “The Power of Women” by Lexi Cipriano, using a more classical approach, told through contemporary jazz dance and featuring music by Phil France and Beyonce.
Whitney Ross opens the second half with “and a wave has two sides” about the “one step forward, two steps back” feeling in life, which physically manifests itself with its own push-pull dynamic. Mason Teichert’s untitled piece delves into how music can transport yourself into a psychedelic place, set for another quintet.
Lihong Chan’s “Finding the Edge” examines the idiosyncracies of movement within her four dancers, who were also her collaborators. Wes Dameron’s “Allegory of the Cave” is a piece about isolation and feeling at odds with community, and despite the suggestion of keeping the dancers to a manageable number, closing work “La Ira de la Vida” by Guillermo Castro features seven dancers.
“In the end the choreographers wanted to work with the dancers that inspired them,” Whited says. “But he uses the group well and is inspired by Frida Kahlo in a visual sense.”
Whited helps when he needs to and makes sure that students focus on the process, even when things get overwhelming. He also has the task of programming the show in a way that shared dancers don’t get overtaxed.
“All of them are trying to delve deeply into their concepts,” he says about the program. “It’s uplifiting to see young, fresh perspectives, trying things about and working with their passion.”