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Davis, California

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Main stage Dance/Theatre Festival takes Main Theatre

Three individual works of choreographers food science graduate student Ann Marie Dragich and senior dramatic art majors Toni Alejandria and Vivian Thorne come together to form this year’s Main Stage Dance/Theatre Festival, held in the Main Theatre this weekend.

Combining both dance and theatrical elements, Main Stage utilizes the visual and auditory to render an immensely diverse and contemplative production. Each piece radically differs from one to the next, embodying each student choreographer’s unique strengths and creative abilities.

Theater and dance associate professor David Grenke, the festival’s artistic director, has been involved with the festival for five years and oversaw the production of the event.

“My job is to make sure [Main Stage] has a nice build, a program order, and a look and feel of a solidified evening,” Grenke said. “This is the fewest number of choreographers we’ve ever had, and the three of them were very strong in terms of their management skills, their ability to use their time, [and] their follow-through.”

Dragich’spiece Reparté presents a light and humorous piece of adolescence and youthful interrelations, utilizing actions such as bubblegum popping and emphasizing physical body movements and motions between and among the dancers.

“[Reparté] shows very unique characters that are identified specifically through their physical language,” Grenke said. “Ann has a strong sense of rhythm.”

Alejandria’s Prisma breaks away from the normal, everyday routine and into a rhythmic and leap into self-expression and individuality. Each dancer moves to his or her own tempos, using the entire stage and creating a stunning and flowing visual for the audience.

“My dancers come from different backgrounds,” Alejandria said. “Movement was inspired from everything, from people walking on campus to … one of my 2-year-old cousins. We went for an organic and human aspect of everything.”

Thorne’s Life Like Tales spins a masterful web of interactions between a diverse set of roles. Each character offered a glimpse into his and her story – such as the comic juggler’s brief romantic interest in a brooding statue-like figure, or the harsh and strict attitude of a school headmistress.

Thorne, who drew influences from figures such as writer and artist Edward Gorey and film director Wes Anderson, developed each character with life and emotion. Costumes varied from one another, drawing from anywhere between 1880s to 1930s styles, and varied movement and dance patterns added to the sense of difference and distinction between the characters.

“I wanted it to be timeless, without a specific date,” Thorne said. “I’m a sucker for stories and storylines, and I think people like to relate these characters to their own lives.”

Music was a fundamental part of the entire festival and was either carefully selected or originally composed for the performance. Prisma’s score, composed by electronic musician Isaac Blackstock, shifted from moments of lush atmospheric pads to fast-paced electronic pulses.

“My job was to support the choreographers’ vision and not take too much away from the performance,” said Blackstock, a Davis resident from Seattle. “My goal is to have people have the emotional feeling that music can evoke, but at the same time, I want people to focus on people on the stage.”

Grenke emphasized the challenges of using only three student choreographers as well as creating and editing the body language that takes the stage.

“Choreography is a very personal artistic form,” Grenke said. “We have many things we like and dislike about our bodies, and we are very careful about how much we animate our bodies.… It’s a relationship that generally takes a while to build.”

LAYOUT EVENT BOX: The Main Stage Dance/Theatre Festival opened last weekend and continues through this weekend. A performance will be held on Friday at 8 p.m., and the festival will join the Picnic Day schedule Apr. 19 at 1 and 3 p.m. and a matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $13 in advance and $14 at the door for non-students, and $9 in advance and $10 at the door for students. The Saturday performance during Picnic Day costs $5 or 2 tickets for $7. Tickets can be purchased at 754-2827, with reduced prices for Picnic Day performances.

JUSTIN HO can be reached at arts@californiaaggie.com.

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