Opening on May 8 at the Saville Theatre, the City College Dance Department cast of student dancers will be performing in City Moves, a multicultural dance event featuring the choreography of both instructors and guest artists, and a globe-skipping sample of diverse dance and music styles.
As Terry Wilson (who has taught dance at City College for nine years) told me, “There seems to be a theme of humanity, the elements and expression, [though] not in that order” uniting these pieces.
The evening will begin with Patricia Rincon’s “Fairytales from the Fringe.” Using fairy tales “that have been told for centuries about celestial beings, vanity, love and tragedy” across the world as her inspiration, Rincon’s piece aims to represent the broader cultural need for these tales, their mundane consumption and the everyday expression of their messages in people’s lives.
Also blessing City College with her talents will be grace shinhae jun (director of bkSOUL, a dance company inspired by “the need for movement and the love of hip hop culture”), who has danced and choreographed for several dance companies across the country, including Sushi Performance and Visual Art here in San Diego.
Her piece for City Moves will continue in that same direction with “before your boom boom,” composing a blend of contemporary hip-hop styles to beats that span the globe.
With music ranging from Somalian K’Naan’s reggae-infused hip-hop protest poetry, to the Indian-inspired melodies and rhythms of M.I.A. to the Black Eyed Peas and the Japanese genre-bending exploits of Nujabes’ cool jazz soul fusion, it promises to be the most energetic piece of the evening.
Three other performances gracing the program explore different perspectives on nature, from three instructors of dance here at City College.
Terry Wilson’s “Through life” flows like a vine, using the work of local musician Jimmy LaValle’s band, “The Album Leaf,” to craft an intertwining choreographic garden wherein “the vine creates images that nourish growth and occupy space in spectacular lines and designs.”
Debi Toth-Ward’s “Flight” interprets the music of Bach and Vivaldi in soaring movement as a metaphoric casting off of childhood trappings, to begin doing “what every human must do to ‘fly the coop'” and emerge into adulthood with “new found power.”
Using the music of The Clogs, Terri Shipman’s Bluster approaches the flip-side of this air-inspired imagery in an attempt to capture (with a cast of 11 dancers) the visceral, physical impact of wind’s forceful capacity, as it moves in a storm across the desert.
They should make for an emotionally and intellectually engaging triptych, to be disbursed throughout the program.
The biggest treat of the evening may come right at the top of the second act, with guest artist Monique Gaffney’s own triptych, titled “Bailes AfroCubanos.”
Gaffney, a highly lauded actress in San Diego theater (her performance in a local production of Medea caused one Union Tribune writer to exclaim that “she channeled so much sorrow and fury into that performance I trembled in my front-row seat”) has turned her skilled hand to choreography.
Thanks to the tutelage of Master Teacher Juan Carlos Blanco, director of Omo Ache Afro-Cuban Dance Company, Gaffney’s pieces will celebrate the indigenous dance of Cuba’s African diaspora.
It seems these pieces also identify a recurring cultural theme of protection during flight, of dance that spiritually facilitates safe and joyful passage.
Featuring live percussion accompaniment, Bailes AfroCubanos will begin with “Elegua,” representing “the Guardian of the Crossroads of Life for the Yoruba nation in Cuba who continues to preserve the culture of their African descendants.” This will be followed by Afrekete, a dance depicting Yoruba Earth Goddess Yemaya, symbol of the universal mother, and rounded off by Gaga, a Franco-Haitian dance “used as a means of travel from one community to another for a variety of celebrations, a la carnival.”
Make sure to come back from the intermission on time to avoid missing this.
To complete the evening, City College Dance Department head Rincon has prepared selections from the most recent City College production SWING!, featuring the largest cast of dancers in the entire show, (topping out at 19), moving to the sounds of artists like Duke Ellington and Count Basie, who embodied the era’s vibe.
You can catch City Moves on May 8-9 at 8:00 p.m., as well as a matinee at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday May 9.
General admission tickets cost $15, and discounted tickets at $10 for students, seniors and military.