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Davis, California

Thursday, June 1, 2023

“Just Between Us — The Generation Project” presents Jess Meets Angus

Jess Meets Angus is the eclectic performance piece anchored by dancer Jess Curtis and actor Angus Balbernie. The show, part of a greater project called “Just Between Us — The Generation Project,” examines the progression of dance through the perspective of different age groups.

Jess Curtis is both pragmatic and precise in his movements; the actions show the blossoming of youth and the transition into age. Opposite of Curtis is Angus Balbernie, whose background in acting serves to scale Curtis’ dancing. The combination of acting, dancing, movement and dialogue adds to the theme of generation in the performance.

Obtaining his dancing shoes at a dance competition with his girlfriend eventually led Curtis to become the dancer he is today. Through a casual mixing of Saturday night dance fever and an occasional dance class, Curtis’ curiosity now has him preparing to perform at UC Davis.

“Movement of our bodies is the very nature of human interaction and that has become an important fixture in shaping my overall guiding philosophy regarding dance,” said Curtis.

The show explores the nuisances separating each generation, dividing them among language and physicality. With Jess Meets Angus, the performance will center on the two 50-year-old men. Exploring the far removal of the men from UC Davis’ own young population, the performance will show glimpses of dialogue and movement present also in the younger audience.

As older and more tenured men, Curtis describes himself and Balbernie as “older and crankier than the young guys.” By this, he talks of the years of living and the wear it has inflicted on their bodies. He goes on by saying that “there is more history in our bodies at work,” and that the younger generation has concerns of their own.

Balbernie’s skills as an actor allow his role to contain more dialogue, seeking to show the men’s experience through language. Through language comes the history and lineage of the men before it. Every word in Jess and Angus’ vocabulary adds to the performance’s emphasis on the inclusive nature of age.

Jess Meets Angus wants to bring back a tradition of theatre that seems to have been lost as each year goes by. “The practice of live theatre is what a lot of us don’t do anymore,” Curtis said. “There is really something about being in space, sweating and breathing. I hope that we turn people into the idea that live performance can really engage and have many different outcomes other than the traditional fanfare.”

The performance will be shown at UC Davis on April 5 and 6. Both performances will take place at Wright Hall Lab A, offering free admission as seating permits.

PETER AN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.