UCI Dance Escapes Into Cloud ‘Nine’

Nikki Jee | Staff Photographer

Nikki Jee | Staff Photographer
UCI graduate students choreographed Dance Escape which took place last week at Claire Trevor Theatre.

UC Irvine’s Dance Escape calls to mind visions of a stroll through an art gallery. Each inspired piece was constructed by individual artists and placed on display before last Friday’s sold-out audience at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.
“Appropriation” was the first of nine to be showcased, combining Spanish story telling elements with flamenco, ballet and the use of chairs and percussion in sync with music.
A contemporary piece called “Vices and Virtues” followed. The use of lighting stood out specifically in a scene where dancers performed around a shaft of light as if it were a solid barrier.
“Every Sunshine Needs Rain,” a jazz and improvisation piece, brought a pleasant comedic aspect to the show while “+ —” included a more structured form of improvisation and collaboration with the dancers.
Audience members responded particularly well to Caleb Mitchell’s “Rain,” appropriately admiring the elegant costumes and ballet on point in the piece.
“Cresting” focused on the use of drums combined with a single dancer performing modern techniques. Another modern piece, “Fight or Flight” followed, bringing several more dancers as well as a touch of jazz to the stage.
When asked about a theme, Molly Lynch, a professor in the dance department, said “There is not a theme for the concert. Each piece stands on its own with its own concept, music, theme, genre, movement style and message.”
This is precisely how the show is meant to be viewed. No piece bleeds into the next as each is meant to stand alone in meaning. Rather than blending together a multitude of ideas, Dance Escape allowed each work to have its own moment of glory, giving the show a true sampling of all aspects of the department.
According to Heather Castillo, graduate choreographer of Dance Escape’s “Corporate Machine,” and Marc Sicignano, graduate choreographer of “intermix,” the performance is born of an expansion in the dance department here at UCI.
New faculty members, graduate students and the student population, in general, are becoming more and more diverse. “[This] artistic diversity is reflected in the show,” said Sicignano in an interview. Sicignano’s performance represents a study of technology in dance. Both recorded and live video feed was projected on a scrim wall, giving a fluid feeling to the motions of the dancers.
Castillo’s performance is described most accurately as a “theatrical machine” with dancers moving together to create a dramatic effect. Using music by Danny Elfman and a significant number of undergraduate students like third-year dance major Jesse Holmes, this performance served as a sensational conclusion to the show.
Though Castillo’s performance certainly had the numbers, she holds a firm stance on crediting all contributors. “Whether it’s one, five or 43 dancers on stage, the picture you’re seeing could not be possible without every person involved.” With this statement, she encourages the average audience member to be aware of not only the work of the dancer, but the work of every person involved in the show.
Nine different minds created their masterpieces separately and brought them together in one beautiful collage as a striking representation of the diversity and serious talent that can be found in UCI’s dance program.