A talented group of 15 dancers and choreographers from the UC Irvine Department of Dance showcased this year’s production of “Physical Graffiti.” Under the artistic direction of Assistant Professor Loretta Livingston, this year’s show includes an array of ballet, tap and contemporary pieces choreographed and performed entirely by undergraduates.
Nearly 20 years ago, the students of the UCI dance department brainstormed a name for their spring-quarter dance production. Under the guidance of Professor Janice Plastino and amidst hordes of ideas, a consensus fell on “Physical Graffiti.” Dance department lore tells us it references the title of Led Zeppelin’s sixth studio release, but its origin is unclear.
The implied meaning of this theme, however, reigns to this day. Red curtains were drawn over the stage and a paint-splashed silhouette of a dancer caught in motion moved slightly with the swaying curtain, living up to the idea of physical graffiti.
Livingston worked as the faculty member shepherding the event, providing informative support to whoever needed it.
Mostly, “Physical Graffiti” is a way for undergraduates to get a taste for the real world in which dancers work as a company for productions and are cast for certain parts. While Livingston provided a necessary backbone for these budding performers, it is the undergraduates that create the vision of each year’s production.
Performances included a singularly choreographed and performed piece from third-year sociology major Jessica Rabanzo-Flores entitled “Bloom.” Starting off with a headstand, Rabanzo-Flores’s legs started to flex and pointed through the air. Looking more like arms and hands than legs and feet at this point, she gave the illusion of a budding flower or a new foal testing out its joints. Structurally, it was as if a Salvador Dali painting had come to life and was wriggling about.
Another selection, “Adelphi,” showcased four cherubic male undergraduates in pure white satin pants. Every saunter kicked up plumes of feathers while his uniform body movements created a beautiful, otherworldly image on stage. Dancers’ mythology-based story led to a fighting sequence where in the silence you heard bare backs and palms slapping against the floor. In this piece, four strong boys were able to exhibit the delicacy of feathers.
“The Back” had five performers, dressed in what seemed like burlap, presenting a highly intense dance in a short period of time. They looked like flailing penitentiary patients whose souls were trying to escape from their bodies. Heavy breathing enhanced the German electronica-influenced track, an original composition by the choreographer and one of the dancers in the piece. With desperation in their facial expressions and movements, “The Back” was a contemporary dance piece of true originality.
The evening took you on a whirlwind of experiences, from lovers’ quarrels to physical psychosis. Exhibiting stories of loves lost and won, internal struggles, life and death, “Physical Graffiti” showcased the artistic endeavors of some of UCI’s most talented undergraduate dancers and choreographers in a 90-minute array of emotive expression through dance.
Overall, the evening brought together capabilities both in music and dancing of some stellar undergraduates. Original compositions abounded; one dance number even included a live performance with a samisen to a duet entitled, “The Construction.” This exhibition of undergraduates shows the making of not just creativity-endowed dancers, but budding performers with remarkable abilities in their craft.
Filed Under: A & E