These are some of the surprises that Cal State Long Beach’s College of the Arts and Department of Dance's, “CSULB Dance in Concert presents” on Nov. 16-19. The concert offers a diverse and exciting evening with six original compositions by CSULB faculty members.
Among faculty choreographers, Rebecca Bryant, Sophie Monat, Lorin Johnson, and Rebecca Lemme, the CSULB Department of Dance welcomes guest artists Laurel Jenkins and Summer Brown.
Bryant opens the concert with the next installment in her critically acclaimed “Suite Female” series. Collaborating with artists from CSULB's animation program, Bryant creates a unique landscape involving animal imagery with dancers bounding and spiraling across the stage as different situations, steeped in wit and irony, transform.
“Overlook,” choreographed by Concert Director Sophie Monat, is an intimate contemporary duet that explores the shifting nature of a relationship over time. Set to the lush music of cellist composer Julia Kent, the dancers extend, sustain, and manipulate throughout the space. Monat’s work juxtaposes delicacy with strength, as the dancer’s defy gravity in their partnering.
“I think what’s wonderful about the concert is that the six dances being presented draw upon a wide range of dance styles, themes, musical inspirations, and artistic collaborations," says Concert Director Monat, "For myself, it has been such a pleasure working with dancers who contribute so much to the creative process, and in talking with the other choreographers, I know they feel the same way."
Jenkins debuts “OPERA”, set to Handel's 1709 Agrippina: Aria Voi, a work with relentlessly physical dance that reveals a mass of dramatic gestures and emotional relationships. With her fourteen person cast, Jenkins creates a period piece with arching movement and disruption of time giving an inside look to a community and the individuals involved.
“Her vision was for us to have a vision, she wanted us to take artistic license,” says senior transfer student Elana Goodman, “So the process was super collaborative, because she genuinely wanted to hear our input and ideas.”
Brown's “Mainland” offers a poignant ensemble dance work inspired by the life, journey, and passing of the choreographer’s late grandparents. Moments of release shimmer throughout the piece with a motif of deep breaths as the ensemble deals with their emotions together, but separately, resembling the truth of how everyone deals with loss in different ways.
“My process always heavily relies on why we do things, the performance of it and clarity of intention,” says Brown, “Each of them have their own intention map, and it can change, there can be a lot of in-the-moment choices and spontaneity... So they can make it not just about what I think it’s about, but that it means something to them personally [and as a group].”
Lorin Johnson’s “Social Domain,” explores aspects of contemporary identity through representations in social media, investigating truth, lies, and the boundaries between public and private discourse. Created collaboratively with video animator, Gregory R.R. Crosby, Johnson’s work involves projections, and an intertwining of solos and duets as the dancers go through distressed, confused, and unsure situations.
“I really like working with Lorin because he's very understanding and wants to you find your connection with the piece,” shares transfer student Morgan Loomis, “For me, I’m really trying to channel inner emotions of how other people felt in that position. I want to be the part and be the character.”
Closing the show on a high-spirited note is “Love Letter,” choreographed by Lemme. Set to classic songs from the 1950s and 60s, “Love Letter,” is an homage to the lovelorn, the misfits, and the hopeless romantics.
“It will make everyone want to go home and dance with their partner!” says Jenkins with a smile.
Lemme’s colleague, Bryant, commented that the dancers are an “army of lovelorn” creating a collage of different fractions of what its like to be in love in this concerts big brass band finish.
“It’s interesting because five of the six choreographers' are female. So there's a lot of specifically female perspectives that will be seen in the show," says Lemme, "In ‘Love Letter’ it’s certainly from my perspective but I'm also hoping that its something that a lot of people in the audience men and women alike can relate too."
CSULB Dance in Concert will take place Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 16-19 at 8pm, with an additional matinée Saturday, November 19 at 2pm and 8pm. A reception will follow the Friday performance at 8pm in the theatre Green Room.
Audience members are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy a lobby exhibit of costume designs by Liz Carpenter and photographs by Gregory R.R. Crosby of the choreographers with dancers during the process.
Performances are located in the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater on the CSULB Campus (located near the Pyramid on Atherton Street). Tickets are $20 for general admission and $16 for seniors, students (with valid ID) and Dance Resource Center Members. For tickets and information please call (562) 985-7000 or visit www.csulb.edu/dance