And dance they did, delivering an assured show that included student choreography as well as modern dance giant Lar Lubovitch’s 1976 “Marimba.”
Michele Wong’s inventive “Simplex Munditis” employed several lightweight silver boxes that were manipulated into structures around which the dancers moved. To a driving, techno-inspired beat, these seven women danced eclectic movement phrases that melded hip-hop, lyrical, and release techniques-a combination that was seen in most of the student works in this show. The exception was “A Plexus of Prose,” in which student choreographer Katie Johnson explored with simplicity and naturalism the evolution of written communication, from scrawls across paper through the horrors of dial-up Internet. This piece suggested that we have lost something vital with modern, virtual ways of trying to connect.
Katrina Lee’s “Surge” featured nine dancers dressed in white with red scarves as accents. Dancers climbed over a stage-width, sheer red scarf, which was threaded into the dance as a prop. In Maggie Jones’s “Forfeit Forgetfulness,” dancers in street clothing paced back and forth upstage with newspapers held to their faces as two duets unfolded downstage around two large rectangular screens, each lit with a small, bright light. Within the duets, the female dancers attempted to connect and support one another through their apparent suffering, conveyed in undulations, jerks, and falls.
Lubovitch’s “Marimba,” danced by the UCSB Dance Company, closed the show. This hypnotic work was groundbreaking in its time: a kaleidoscope made of human beings, a sort of “trance dance” set to music by minimalist composer Steve Reich. The piece is completely abstract-no narrative, drama, or histrionics-but is, at the same time, utterly evocative. In seeing student works paired with the work of such an iconic choreographer, one can appreciate the full arc of the process of coming into one’s own creative self-into the mastery of one’s chosen art form.