On average there are five student-run dance and theater productions held in Wright Hall each year, but the upcoming “Always/All Ways North” is one of the few to offer live nudity.
“The nudity differs slightly with each performance,” said Jenna Templeton, recent UC Davis alum and stage manager for “Always/All Ways North.“
“Always/All Ways North” is a piece of performance art that combines dance, theater, cinematography, live music and yes, nudity, to comment on themes such as location, identity and pilgrimage. All shows run at 8 p.m. on Oct. 2, 3 and 9 in Wright Hall Main Theater. Each show lasts for 40 minutes.
“It’s very progressive; it’s atypical,” Templeton said. “It’s about longing for other places [and how] the grass is always greener on the other side.“
The show is senior landscape architecture and theater and dance double major Tyler Eash’s brainchild. Eash is the director and one of the many dancers in “Always/All Ways North.” This show will be his fourth at UC Davis, where he began his dancing career.
Eash conceptualized, wrote and choreographed the piece while under advisement by Theatre and Dance department chair David Grenke.
The performance is heavy in meaning but still strives to remain open to audience interpretation. Eash designed the show to address conflicts without providing a lot of answers.
The piece has no narrative ending or grand finale; in fact, the last dance is only about a minute long. Eash said that he wanted to make it seem as if the piece had been cut off before it was done, and that the piece purposefully has no conclusion.
When asked what the piece was about, Eash responded with a string of his own questions.
“What is home?” Eash asked. “What is place, and what is identity in relation to place? … Why do we travel? Why are we pilgrims?”
“I feel he’s attempting to articulate restlessness and longing through movement and poetic language,” said Anna Schumacher, another recent UC Davis alumna and an actor in the show, in an e-mail interview. “We’ve all wrestled with the ‘what if’s‘ in our lives, and ponder the possibilities of a whirlwind and unknown existence.“
“It’s about going to somewhere with a blank slate, and then to fill this blank slate with identity,” Eash said. “It’s like the actors are telling the story and the dancers are illustrating it.“
Templeton herself referenced the show’s “exciting subjectivity” and said that people will definitely come away recognizing “multiple truths” within the piece.
Many forms of media are included in the performance piece; while the actors and dancers perform they will share the stage with an abstract film created for the show.
Another part of bringing Eash’s ideas to fruition involved collaboration with professional composer Steven Coolidge. During the performance, Coolidge is to direct what Templeton referred to as a “mini orchestra” in another unique aspect of the piece. Coolidge composed the score only after seeing Eash’s choreography; the music performed during the show is tailored to the show itself. UC Davis music students comprise the orchestra.
Eash said that he was able to create a large-scale show on a very tight budget.
“It’s really exciting because no one’s getting paid,” Eash said.
Schumacher also emphasized the importance of community cooperation.
“[Eash] came to me during the summertime and asked me to be on his piece,” she said.
Schumacher said that Eash had been supportive of her on-campus theatre projects in the past and that she was excited to be able to return the favor.
“Student work is important, and doesn’t happen enough here at UCD,” she said.
Eash said that no matter what discipline UC Davis students are studying, they will come away with something that he is trying to communicate.
“Making a contemporary dance piece is like writing a persuasive essay,” Eash said.
“Always/All Ways North” will play two shows this weekend and one next. For more information, contact production manager Dominique Littleton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAURA KROEGER can be reached at email@example.com.