When ‘Grafitti’ Incorporates Dance

For those who assumed that dancers have it easy, you have got it wrong. ‘Physical Graffiti,’ presented by UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts from May 19 to 21 at the Humanities Little Theatre, demonstrated that dancers feel more than just sore feet and fatigue. Not only do they feel a wide range of emotions and experience the joys and hardships of life, but they can express it all through movement.
‘Physical Graffiti’ is an undergraduate dance production that featured works from 14 undergraduate choreographers.
One of the first pieces featured was third-year dance and film and media studies double major Ziva Krell’s piece entitled ‘Lived.’
The ballet piece was emotionally intense as dancers dressed in black and dark blue weaved on and off the stage to the pulsating music. The piece was very much about the human struggles that everyone faces in their lives.
Krell, who has had her work featured in ‘Physical Graffiti’ before, dedicated this year’s piece to the memory of her father.
‘I really wanted to have it be more of a tribute to his life than to his death,’ Krell said. ‘I wanted it to be about what he wanted in life [more] than his dealing with the realization that he was going to die so soon.’
Another emotionally charged piece was Elisa Roe and Evan Campbell’s ‘Hiding Here in Silence.’
The piece was performed by the two choreographers to show the difficulties and conflicts experienced in a relationship.
‘It was about the lack of communication or barrier between people … but I guess you could interpret it as any obstacle in a relationship,’ Roe said, a fourth-year dance and psychology and social behavior double major.
The movement was concise in the way it coincided with the anger and sadness that accompanied the piece. It also involved a degree of acting on the dancers’ part when it came to expressing a voiceover of an argument between the couple.
‘The most difficult part [of the choreography] was trying to figure out how to express the dialogue without having every movement match the words exactly,’ Roe said.
The show also featured some comedic and less heavy pieces, such as Jenny Selner’s ‘Date Night: An Intimate Reconnection of Husband and Wife.’
This piece was performed to the music of Eric Clapton’s ‘Aint That Loving You.’ The audience laughed and giggled at the light-hearted, yet sexually playful movements between the married couples.
Another piece that focused on the brighter side of relationships was Briana Bowie’s ‘Sweet Secret.’ The piece was set to the Dave Matthews Band’s ‘Crash into Me.’ The six dancers displayed excellent modern technique while expressing the exhilaration and excitement that one feels when they meet that special someone.
The show ended on a jazzy note with Liz Jorgensen’s Fosse-style piece ‘Kiss Kiss.’ The audience left the theater nearly shimmying along with the four male and four female dancers dressed in classy black and white.
Justin Liu, a second-year dance major, was impressed by the technique and choreographic talent of his peers.
‘I thought all the dancers did very well. Even though I know everyone, it’s still interesting because I didn’t know that they could do those types of things. It makes me want to look up to them,’ Liu said. ‘At the same time, I know that it takes many hours to put on a show. The dancers don’t just show up on opening night and do a bunch of tricks. It’s a lot of hard work.’
Krell reiterated this, saying, ‘I love choreographing. It’s difficult but it’s very rewarding. It’s a lot of work because you handle everything … but it’s really fun and I really liked doing it.’
Although ‘Physical Graffiti’ succeeded in showing that students have both exceptional dance technique and choreographic talent, it seemed that many of the pieces had a strange common trait. Perhaps the fact that each piece was striving to be new and unique made them all somewhat similar. Regardless, it is agreed that ‘Physical Graffiti’ is an annual show that is necessary every year simply to allow undergraduate students the opportunity to display their own choreography.
‘I think it’s great to have choreographic experience before we graduate on our resumes,’ Roe said.