This weekend, your eyes will have much beauty to behold, when the UCSB Department of Theater and Dance presents its annual Fall Dance Concert, Double Exposure: Revealing | Relating | Responding. Featuring works by Gallim Dance Artistic Director and Guggenheim Fellow Andrea Miller, Vice-Chair and Director of Dance Christina McCarthy, guest faculty member Brooke Smiley, and senior BFA dance students, the evening’s pieces will reorient your way of looking at familiar themes — love, individuality, spirituality — through the eye-opening repositioning of graceful and inspiring moving bodies.
The concert’s ocular themes are appropriate, given the visionary reputation of the women at the helm. Miller — whose works integrate the imagery and modalities of theater, visual arts, music, and politics — has been known to contort the common into the uncommon, like with her piece “W H A L E,” in which dancers spin and tumble around a deconstruction of domesticity. Her lively “Pupil Suite” is performed to the exuberantly colorful music of the Israeli band Balkan Beat Box, wherein the dancers’ dynamics explode with unexpected vivacity and jittery jolts, like a ballroom dance on an extravagantly listing tropical vessel.
In “Nevermore,” McCarthy overturns the surface meanings of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem “The Raven” with her multimedia interpretation of his words through dance and puppetry. The choreographer/puppeteer has been a longtime fan of his writings and their exploration of love, madness, revenge, loss, and death. “I love how they blend reality with a macabre unreality that is full of the dark side of our psyche, played out in what is essentially our mundane world,” she said.
In her piece, a raven puppet controlled by a puppeteer dances in the air with a boney spectral woman, a man driven mad by love, and the ghost of his lover Lenore, all playing out in a dark drama of control and the loss thereof. “The dance is not a reenactment of the poem but a reverie on death, madness, letting go of our earthly body, memory of lost loves, and the inexorable march of time and aging that is full of emotion for us but [is] rather emotionless for the forces of nature that govern our existence and our eventual decay,” said McCarthy.
Mortality and bodily impermanence also form the structural framework of Smiley’s “Bone Stories,” a layered and thought-provoking piece composed through a collaborative choreographic process with the cast of student dancers. “‘Bone Stories’ is an exploration of bones and relationship to lineage,” Smiley said. “The piece is an individual and collective reevaluation of what is possible from the present moment if we honor our bones.” In her work, the roles of muscle movements become reimagined in the moment, new expressions of a kinetic heritage.
The concert will also showcase the work of three BFA student-choreographers, Kaydee Black, Andrea Rhoades, and Holly Warner. “This concert is truly special with the opportunity to see student choreography alongside the creative work of UCSB faculty and a special guest choreographer,” said UCSB dance faculty member and concert director Brandon Whited, in a statement. “You will witness an expression of the students’ technical and artistic training come to life.”
Double Exposure is an invitation to see things a little differently — to embrace new ways of looking at the world and the ways our bodies come and go through it and from it. With three performances to choose from, you’ll have the opportunity to see it a new way each time.
Double Exposure: Revealing | Relating | Responding takes place Friday, December 2, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, at 2 and 8 p.m., at UCSB’s Hatlen Theater. For more information, call (805) 893-2064 or visit theaterdance.ucsb.edu.