Get ready to move and be moved. On May 29, Penumbra opens at the Main Theater in Wright Hall. Presented by the Main Stage Dance Theatre, Penumbra features a myriad of dance styles, expressing emotions and stories familiar to many.
The Main Stage Dance is an annual showcase for students’ original choreographies. Throughout every school year, select dance students each create a piece to be performed in Spring Quarter. The students are committed to developing their choreographies as they would with thesis projects. The recital overall celebrates the select students’ passion, devotion and talent.
Director David Grenke describes how the program demonstrates every dancer’s unique relationship with the art. Speaking with MUSE, Grenke put the concept into perspective.
“We think of presentational performance as storytelling or expression; another way we think about it is as a kinesthetic way of thinking,” Grenke said. “We think with our bodies; we take in information that way. It’s one of the earliest forms of anything we do. It’s how we think after birth: functioning with our body.”
Penumbra specifically features the work of Cynthia Arellanes, Mark Crumrine, Mariah Heller, Hien Huynh, Fidel Prestegui, Veronica Quiroz and Quiona (QJ) Williams.
Hien Huynh — a fifth-year communication and dramatic art, dance emphasis double major — choreographed the piece “Ethereal Abyss.” Huynh said his work pays homage to the complexity of human emotion and expression.
“The piece explores the external and the internal — how sensations of what we see may differ from what we feel,” Huynh said. “It follows instincts of opposition: the existence and the nonexistence. Hollow-like human beings, rigid, stiff with composure, yet inside there exists emotions of regret, pain and frustration. These beings attempt to break out from their hardened shell, seeking one another through the shared struggle. Yet, they are ripped and reversed apart from one another in a cycle of emotion and emotionless.”
The program concludes with Mariah Heller’s “Awakening.” Heller — a fourth-year dramatic art, dance emphasis major — centered her piece around themes of patriarchy and female empowerment. Heller’s piece draws inspiration from observations of relationships.
“We’ve been working on these projects for about a year now, and my piece originated as a narrative based on the cyclical nature of relationships,” Heller said. “As my piece evolved, it became a bit more focused. I drew from the dynamics that I have experienced in my personal, familial and romantic relationships. I also drew from various social constructs such as patriarchy.”
While all pieces may resonate with viewers differently, the dancers and Grenke expressed that they hope that the program will leave audiences with a new take on dance.
“We hope the performance can be a catalyst for any new thinking, whether it’s a new perspective around a narrative idea or concept, a new way of considering what dance is or a different way of seeing use of space in a theater,” Grenke said.
For show times and ticketing information, please visit tickets.mondaviarts.org.
CHLOE CATAJAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.