A blue velvet curtain sits idly, hiding the hustle and bustle backstage of dancers warming-up, crew members set up props and choreographers give last minute notes.
Once the curtain rises, the audience will be welcomed to a program that delves into social justice, farce, politics, family and technology.
Cal State Long Beach’s College of the Arts and Department of Dance will present its second annual BFA Fall concert, “Variance,” Oct 13-15. The concert marks the debut of original compositional works by BFA in Dance candidates Bradford Chin, Madison Clark, Jasmine Mosher and Maili Schlosser – all of whom have collaborated with composers from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music.
In addition to the student works, “Variance” will showcase a piece by CSULB Distinguished Alumnus Robert Moses, a renowned San Francisco-based choreographer, and a restaging of a solo by faculty member Keith Johnson.
CSULB welcomes back Moses as he debuts “How Does One Approach Short Story Technique?” a non-linear narrative featuring 13 BFA candidates. The students collaborated with Moses on creating this piece as he directed them through prompts, material and assignments.
In “How Does One Approach Short Story Technique?” Moses takes the audience through the different phases of human connection and individuality. The partnering work is intricate and daring through tactile connection with rigid, quirky moments as the dancers intertwine and untangle. The dancers connect purely through eye contact, energy and touch. Moses plays with rhythm, texture, juxtaposition and contact to reveal the individual spirit within the collective.
“I thought his way of creating work was really interesting to learn from,” Toria Painter, a third year BFA candidate said. “He gave us [seemingly] impossible tasks to see how we as dancers and artists reacted and handled the situation.”
Faculty member and BFA in Dance Advisor Keith Johnson will present “Folly,” a solo set on dance major Robert Wells. “Folly” plays with seamlessness, fluidity and precision that matches the beautiful harp compositions by Marcel Grandjany. Johnson’s choreography welcomes and interacts with the audience, creating a world that is intimate, playful and eccentric.
For this concert, BFA candidates had to apply to choreograph, hold auditions and rehearse over the summer with their casts. Throughout the choreographic process, the BFA choreographers collaborated with CSULB composers and production designers, and received advice from chosen mentors and Concert Director Rebecca Lemme.
“The experience was a little bit new for me just because I haven’t had a cast this big for a piece yet,” student choreographer Schlosser said. “I utilize them more than I utilize my own brain for a lot of stuff. I mean, I create a majority of it, but I also relied on them to bring a lot of themselves and their own creativity into the piece.”
Chin welcomes the audience behind the scenes in his piece “Great Expectations.” In collaboration with composer Zaq Kenefick, Chin crafted a piece that will keep the laughter rolling throughout the audience. The dancers move across the stage with movements and moments that create a farce based on the process of concert dance.
With original composition by Oscar Santos-Carrillo, Clark invites the audience to bear witness to a family dealing with shifting paradigms in “Decay On Us.” Her work narrates a universal message that aims to trigger an intense emotional response as she takes you on a nostalgic journey through the lens of love and loss.
“I’ve been really trying to extend the branches to the audience, and I think that has been really challenging but also really riveting. As the piece grows I think people’s emotions really grow with it and that has been really exciting to see,” Clark said.
Choreographer Jasmine Mosher and composer Cristina Lord create a haunting, rich landscape for the audience in “As The Shoreline Recedes, So Do They Vanish.” Mosher’s work sculpts and manipulates the stage space to explore a world of suffering and detachment that calls into question the capacity of human compassion. Mosher’s mentor and CSULB faculty member Rebecca Bryant commented that Mosher’s piece unfolds beautifully in every poetic and painterly moment.
Schlosser’s piece “We Adapt Quickly” is built on major historical and social events that shine a light on how responses to tragedy evolve over time. Her use of video projection guides the audience as it watches young adults twitch, glitch and become numb to the world around them. Christina Lord’s musical composition for “We Adapt Quickly”’ adds to this shifting landscape that equally develops in intensity and environment.
“Variance” performances will take place Oct. 13-15 at 8 p.m., with an additional matinée Oct. 15 at 2 p.m.. Following the opening performance on Thursday, there will be a short Q&A with the BFA choreographers and composers moderated by Concert Director Rebecca Lemme.
“It’s been really fun working with everybody all together. It doesn’t even feel like I’ve made the piece, but that I’m facilitating what’s going on and what happens when,” Clark said.
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 DRC members. Tickets are available at www.csulb.edu/dance or at the College of the Arts Box Office off of Atherton.