Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.
Performances continue until Mar. 15
Tickets are $16 general admission and $11 with a student ID
Main Theatre, Wright Hall
In a show urging its viewers to consider what they believe, why they believe and the blur between truth and illusion, it’s not surprising to find Scottish music, sparkles, colors and fog, interpretive dance scarves and magic all tied into one.
The theatre and dance department’s current production Beyond Belief is the creation of winter quarter’s Granada Artist-in-Residence John Jasperse. The show premieres Friday at 8 p.m. and runs until Mar. 15 at the Main Theater at Wright Hall. Tickets are $11 for students and $16 general admission. They can be purchased at the door or at mondaviarts.org.
The performers include Hillary Klausner, Hilary Bryan, Jenna Chen, Tyler Eash, Hope Mirlis, Devin Collins, Anne Reeder, Christine Samson and Heather Shapiro.
Jasperse explained that the piece revolves around questioning what our imagination has brought into being when it suddenly doesn’t make as much sense as before.
It not only questions what we believe but “what happens when things arise in reality that don’t necessarily correspond to that,” Jasperse said.
To create this feeling, the genre and style of dance constantly changes throughout the piece, moving from one certain theatrical convention to another. In Jasperse’s choreography, there is a deliberate attempt at sudden movement between ideas.
“There’s a reference to a certain kind of dancing that emerges through a tradition [of theater],” Jasperse explained. “[I consciously wanted] to rupture that and move to another kind of construction so the two hit up against one another a little like bumper cars; the friction between the transition is very intentional.“
The show is mostly pure dance, but it also involves some text, storytelling and various types of movement that most would not normally associate with dance.
“[The intensity of the dances are] completely different; they’re like polar opposites,” said Chen, a junior design major in the production. “In the ‘Rolling Domes‘ [dance] one there’s almost no movement, but it’s really difficult. And then in the ‘Kung Fu‘ [dance] there’s so much movement and it’s so hard.“
The names attached to the dances alone call into question what is reality and what is the absurd.
“What’s theater magic and what’s just a flat-out lie? It’s playing with all those ideas,” Jasperse said.
Both the music and the costumes play large roles in Beyond Belief. Jasperse selected music that was already composed for the dances, noting that the piece experiments with both the genres and the ideologies behind it.
The costumes vary greatly in style and visual appeal. The performers go from wearing colored spandex unitards in one scene to flashy and dazzling flapper-esque outfits in another. Lynne Giovannetti, the costume designer for the show, said that the costumes were all carefully planned out and are used as visual clues to help understand what’s going on. The performers are not merely transformed into characterized roles but ideas.
“It’s like you kind of get a taste for everything. Like I never thought we’d have to wear some of the costumes, it was like, ‘What! We’re wearing that?'” said Klausner, a senior double majoring in dance and psychology. “But it’s been fun; I think it’s going to be a really good show.“
Jasperse said he wants audiences to view the world differently when they leave the theater. It’s not about changing a person’s point of view, he said, but rather having elements of the show call to mind an awareness of the concept of what is real and what is not.
“Do I really think that’s sexy, that picture in that magazine? Do I really want that – to live in that house that I see pictured on television?” Jasperse said, showing examples of these constructed ideas. “I make artwork because I believe it can change the way people perceive and the way that they think.“
ELENA BUCKLEY can be reached at email@example.com.