This weekend, BFA candidates and faculty from UCSB’s dance department showed their work at the Hatlen Theatre in Breakthrough, a choreographically diverse show full of professional level performances. Five of the seven pieces in the program were choreographed by students, and each stood apart for its unique approach to modern dance.
The lush, full movement of “Pendulum,” choreographed by Sarah Forman for six female dancers, made for a sensual opening. The rich musical compilation varied from Argentinean composer Gustavo Santaolalla to Ben Harper, and a particularly striking moment came when all the women dropped to the floor in unison and lay there, unmoving.
From behind the filmy, dreamlike translucence of the scrim, Tanya Rice and Jackie Speas alternated performances in Peter Cheng’s “Vicissitudes.” The dance took place both in music and in silence. At one point, one dancer rolled across the stage unfurling part of her costume; in the end, she gathered it up and offered it to the audience.
Summre Gill Curry’s “Menace to Society” explored themes of deviation with a militaristic set of policemen with giant batons. When one dancer decided she’d rather not wear the uniform, the rest tried to force her back in the group. This piece seemed particularly well-rehearsed in the unison of movement and formation.
Young love was in the air in “Crossing Paths” by Amanda Hoffman, complete with autumn leaves falling on dancers Kyle Castillo and Lindsay Slavik. At the end, crossing paths was all they did: they had their moment of playfulness and adoration, but it ended as passionately as it began.
The final student-choreographed piece, “Apocalypse, Please” by Kara Carter, incorporated ambitious sets and a huge ensemble of dancers. Dancing was strong overall, and lighting and themes dramatically interpreted.
Two of faculty member’s Christopher Pilafian’s pieces ended the show, though they couldn’t have been more distinct from one other. Melissa Ullom danced the slow and achingly beautiful study on self-reflection, “Anemone,” with Gianna Abondolo on the cello, followed by the entire UCSB Dance Company in the whimsical and futuristic “Circuits.”
The UCSB dance department continues to prove itself one of the strongest for modern dance in the United States. With the artistic achievement of Breakthrough, these graduating seniors seem poised to do just that.