CSULB’ s Contemporary Concert B highlights student works
Undergraduate choreographer pieces debut this week at the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater.
March 15, 2017
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Spoken word, fluorescent lighting and Rick Astley are just a few of the featured elements audiences can expect when Cal State Long Beach College of the Arts and Department of Dance presents “Contemporary Concert B” at the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater March 16-18.
This dance concert showcases a collection of six new works created by undergraduate student choreographers Ashlee Blosser, Madison Clark, Makenna LaFortune, Daniel Miramontes, Maili Schlosser, Solly Sfeir and Blair Shearer-Pope. The works of these seven students aptly demonstrated voice and originality, and were selected by faculty to be developed into full-fledged productions. The performances are largely student-run, and are overseen by concert director Lorin Johnson.
“It is driven by the vision of the students, and supported by the faculty,” says Johnson. “[We try] to be good sounding [boards] so that they can verbalize and physicalize their imaginative ideas and learn from being courageous enough to try them out.”
Opening the concert is LaFortune’s “Perception Overlay.” The piece explores lighting, shadow and movement. It draws inspiration from the choreographer’s interest in and engagement with black and white photography.
Following LaFortune’s work is Schlosser’s “Let Go or Be Dragged,” a piece that features an original poem by the choreographer herself. The work deals with the feelings of grief and loss, feelings Schlosser thinks many can relate to.
“[It] makes the piece very relevant to the human condition. Seeing another human experience and struggle with these things on stage can be uncomfortable … but also very healing,” Schlosser said. “I think many audience members can see something of themselves within the struggle.”
Up next is Shearer-Pope’s “B.A.R.E.,” a group performance that focuses on ideas of authenticity and identity. Dynamic partnering in twos, threes and fours entices and challenges dancers and viewers alike.
Blosser draws from personal experience in “ab-sorbed self-less-ly.” The piece comments on the balance between selfishness and selflessness, while also exploring the beauty and freedom that can be found in sadness.
“That’s what I love about themes,” says Blosser of the layered thematic approach in her work. “They evolve throughout the process, [and] usually [are] dependent on where you are in life.”
The collaboration of Clark and Miramontes in “honor roll” begins with a gold mylar curtain and a red shirt with really long sleeves, and ends in a “Hustle”-esque duet to Rick Astley’s single “Never Gonna Give You Up.” At first glance, the piece is humorous and fun; however, deeper themes of insecurity and self-celebration are revealed as the simple movement “debunks theatrical convention,” according to the press release.
“The theater should be a place where an audience can feel invigorated, re-energized and refreshed,” Clark said. “This piece does just that. We are putting ourselves in front of the audience with no hesitations and no apologies.”
“We want to show how beautiful things can be and how simply they can be presented on a stage,” Miramontes added.
The final piece is Sfeir’s mathematically precise “Apparatus Malfunction,” set on a deconstructed stage and lit by hanging fluorescent-looking light fixtures. The work centers on abstract movement for movement’s sake.
“I recently realized that more abstract pieces…can be relevant,” Sfeir said. “They are a necessary distraction from all the heaviness in our world.”
“Contemporary Concert B” performances will take place March 16-18 at 8 p.m. with an additional matinée March 18 at 2 p.m. Following the performances on Thursday evening and the Saturday matinée, the choreographers will engage with the audience in a Q&A about their work.
Performances are located in the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater on the CSULB Campus. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $16 for seniors, students, faculty and staff with valid ID and Dance Resource Center members. Tickets are available at www.csulb.edu/dance or at the College of the Arts Box Office off of Atherton.