Dancers Surely Know How to Get ‘Physical’

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Nikki Jee | Staff Photographer
Nikki Jee | Staff Photographer
“Physical Graffiti” features original dances from hip-hop to bhangra.
Dance is more than just pink tutus and tippy toe exercises; it is an expression of emotion through movement, and “Physical Graffiti” is proof of that.

“Physical Graffiti” is a dance show featuring performances choreographed by 14 talented undergraduates and a number of dancers at UC Irvine. While it may have had its stumbles here and there, the show didn’t fail to please.

The first performance was a modern ballet piece entitled “Keening to the Love of Winged Things,” a fitting start to the show. From the lighting to the way the dancers moved in sync with the piano keys to how the hoop skirts bounced as the dancers moved, the piece emanated grace. The preparation, fluidity and incredible synchronization were an accurate preview of the show to come.

While the dances varied from tempo and style, it is difficult to put some dances above others and vice versa. While one or two dances stood as the best or worst in the show, the majority of dances held a consistent level of rigorous preparation and creative insight. In other words, “Physical Graffiti,” with the exception of a few dances, continued to produce amazing dance after amazing dance.

Yet, that is not to say these dances were not solely individual. The dances varied from modern hip-hop influences to bhangra influences. “Something About Dissonance” was one of the stronger pieces in the show that had some heavy hip-hop influences, remaining upbeat and captivating. The dancing was rhythmic and well-synced according to the blaring drum beat from the music piece.

However, the kicker was the lighting and costumes. Throughout the dances, an array of lights of different colors would shine on stage, complementing the background lighting and the costumes which also contained bright, lively colors. Watching the colors move in such an energetic fashion complemented the choreography and the dance.

The show, however, was not without its flaws. “Physical Graffiti” hit a low point during the individual pieces. That is not to say the dancing was not difficult or that the choreography was bad; however, the package as a whole was lacking in comparison to other group dances.

Most of the individual dances in “Physical Graffiti” sacrificed captivating the audience with intriguing movement to send a provocative message, yet failed to send any sort of clear message or evoke any type of feeling but disillusion. Furthermore, the response from the audience reflected the quality of the piece; the solo pieces consistently received a less enthusiastic response than from group dances.

But that is not to say some individual pieces didn’t succeed. “Dis-Closure,” choreographed and performed by Marissa Osato, a fourth-year literary journalism major, successfully captivated the audience while maintaining a sense of disfiguration and sporadic meaningful movement of individual pieces. “Dis-Closure” maintained the sense of beauty the audience looks for in a dance while still able to evoke emotions separate from adoration.

The show ended with the best dance piece entitled “A Quick Weave.” The dance opened up with the dancers pounding on a cloth, and then proceeding to dance while dragging the cloth with their feet. Watching the dancers move the cloth around in an elegant manner while dancing themselves was by far the best moment in the show.

While “Physical Graffiti” may have not been flawless, it was still a captivating show. To see undergraduates create such complex and creative forms of beautiful art was a sight to see in itself. Those who had the pleasure of watching the show will not think of dance the same.

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