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Davis, California

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Taking on the big stage

After a long season of extensive rehearsals and dance practices, graduate and undergraduate students Karl Frost, Karen Angel, Tasha Cooke, Kristi Kilpatrick, Kelly LeVasseur, Devin Montoya and Christina Noble are ready to debut their original choreographed dance pieces on the main stage.

This year’s Main Stage Dance and Theatre Festival, presented by the theater department, features seven choreographies which encompass a wide range of dance styles, technique and cultural influences. Each dancer and choreographer takes their own twist of various dance styles and movements based on what inspires them individually.

Karen Angel’s piece, La Muerte Azul, interprets both the history of her cultural heritage of El Salvador and her interest in modern dance. Angel utilizes her specialty of the traditional Mexican dance technique ballet folklórico to create a historical dialogue, addressing the hierarchy and suffering of rural workers during the Civil War.

Creating a more theatrical and suspenseful dimension, Tasha Cooke stirs up a dramatic atmosphere on stage with her piece, entitled They Lie but Cannot Stand Up. Cooke was inspired by the vulnerability and thriller aspects of bathroom scenes in horror movies, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho.

“I wanted something that was very stark and had that jarring feeling that horror films give you,” Cooke said. “I want the audience to be unsettled in their seats”.

Karl Frost, a Masters of Fine Arts candidate, also takes his own interpretation of societal interactions in his piece Who Are You? However, Frost focuses on exploring physical interactions that are beyond verbal. Influenced by a dance technique called contact improvisations, Frost’s choreography investigates the physical sphere of communications at a “dinner party without words” setting in Who Are You?

“We are exploring touch and physical interactions using metaphors of conversations,” Frost said. “So how does a physical interaction potentially become like a verbal conversation?”

Like many of the previous choreographers, Kristi Kilpatrick aspires to combine her own interests in life through dance. In Kilpatrick’s case, the idea and concept for her piece Salt came from a lower division biology class. Kilpatrick will be exploring the life and biological processes of a cell.

“I really love learning about the inner workings of the human body or a cell and in a way I think they dance just as much as a ballerina on a stage,” Kilpatrick said. “We just aren’t normally aware of it. But for me, there is no dichotomy between art and science.”

In Christina Noble’s pieces entitled Reflux, the concept of façade on interpersonal, societal and institutional levels will be explored utilizing modern and hip-hop dance influences. Noble’s pieces focuses on Project MK-Ultra, a government brainwashing program developed during the 1950s.

“In a literal and metaphorical sense, dancers experience catalysts that change, form and mold their personalities and movements,” Noble said. “They eventually create an “output character” that represents the epitome of façade and falsity.”

Other dance pieces featured will include Devin Montoya’s Frustration which analyzes the interactions of humans and exploring these frustrations through dance and Kelly LaVasseur’s Child’s Play which explores the undertones and semi-sinister nature of children within their development during childhood.

For more information regarding these pieces, visit theatredance.ucdavis.edu.

UYEN CAO can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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