Screams emitted from the stage, bodies moved in and out of synchronization, and props combined to capture the audience’s attention as dancers performed in “Variance” in the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater at Long Beach State, Thursday.
“Variance” was a contemporary dance show featuring seven pieces, most of which was choreographed by students. Cheers and clapping met each piece of original performance artwork, each of the 230 seats in the theater occupied.
CSULB’s department of dance puts on “Variance” annually. The show provides an opportunity for students pursuing their degrees in dance to showcase their work and skills.
With student choreographers at the heart of the production, dancers were at liberty to contribute ideas to the choreography. As a result, many performers were heavily involved in the creative process behind the moves on stage and became deeply attached to their pieces.
“Dance was a connection in itself,” said fourth-year dance major Jasmyn Hamblin when describing the piece she performed in, “Criatura – Parte Uno: Pelando la Piel.”
As this piece was conducted without counts, Hamblin stressed the importance of mirroring her group mates, even synchronizing their breath.
Hamblin said that being part of this piece allowed her to connect with her group and that now they’ve become “really good friends” since working on the piece.
Audience members were also quickly drawn to the dances, including third-year political science major, Ryan Romano.
He was enthralled by the show and appreciated the effort put into it, especially with the fluidity of movement in the piece titled “Mx.”
“Every single dancer was absolutely incredible,” Romano said.
Most of the pieces’ use of movement and stage placement was not only designed to entertain audience members but to also symbolize deeper messages.
One such piece titled “Baffled,” choreographed by fourth-year dance major Nancy Rivera, was meant to represent the often out of control thoughts inside a person’s head.
Rivera said the dancers’ fast, asynchronous movements across the stage were meant to be symbolic of the erratic ideas someone might struggle to tame. The dancers helped influence the direction of the performance, and Rivera appreciated their input.
“Every thought is very special,” Rivera said when describing the dancer’s contributions to the vision of the piece.
She said that everyone can relate to the feeling of anxious thoughts taking control of the mind and cites this feeling as inspiration for “Baffled.”
While the tone of the performance may have focused on serious issues, after the show ended, a sense of comradery allowed performers and choreographers to walk out of the theater with smiles on their faces.