Trafficking in Dreams

Looking Within the In

At UCSB’s Ballet Studio Theatre, Saturday, March 11.

The four choreographers showcased in Looking Within the In took dance in four visually dramatic and exciting directions. The first composition, “Traffic,” was choreographed by Beth Dobinson and set to music by the Robin Cox Ensemble. The dancers’ purposeful alternating movements and parallel gestures evoked the organized chaos of bees entering and leaving a hive. While the gesture of driving a car may have seemed too obvious, the final image of a deliberate glance, in unison at the audience, was compelling. Without even seeing the title, it was apparent that Erin Simmons’s “In Light and Dreaming” came from the dream world. After her sinuous opening solo, Heather Carney slipped into a candlelit bathtub. The music then segued into a tribal soundtrack, and the stage was populated by leaping, cartwheeling dancers. Michele Wong took a shamanic turn before leading Carney back into the fray. The dream continued with the company performing in black tuxedos, black tutus, and even two in toe shoes. The ensuing party was a delightful play of partner work. The whole piece was a visual thrill that kept the viewer engaged until the final moment, in which the dancers were laid bare, stripped to their underwear.

“Inside My Head” took viewers literally into the chatter of choreographer Anisabel Perez’s thoughts as the dancers recited her internal prattle. The gray-clad dancers partnered with a gray, transparent box, and formed a pyramid to allow one to enter. The grace of the dance belied the vocal chatter. Perez even added some humor, as the dancers “shhhhed” each other at the end, and one announced, “I can’t stop moving.”

Choreographer Brittani Karhoff explored the emotional dynamics of her relationship with her father in “A Breath of Air” through partner work and verbal expression. Karhoff also explored the relationship between dancers and musicians in her effective collaboration with Music Department graduate students Devin Burke on cello and Mark Lybarger-Monson on piano. The duet between Cherise Richards and Marcos Duran was a particular highlight. Overall, this intimate program left no doubt that these are four exciting artists to watch.

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