Looking Back On Dance Visions 2019

By Sydney Charles

UCI Dance Department’s annual faculty-run show, Dance Visions, featured incredibly choreographed works from renowned dancers during its four-performance run at the Irvine Barclay Theatre from Feb. 21 to Feb. 23. Including undergraduate and graduate student performers, this year’s Dance Visions was one of the most memorable and enthralling productions yet.

The first piece of the night, “The Last Kingdom,” was choreographed by Professor Tong Wang. According to the performance’s program, this dance was meant to transport the audience into the lifestyle of the Moso people of China. With a cast of 22 male and female dancers, the piece was reflective of “a matriarchal society on the pristine shore at Luku Lake.” Dancers wore brightly colored costumes as they engaged in a series of solos, trios, and partner work, and illustrated euphoria in every movement.

Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

“Odalisques,” which included excerpts from “Le Corsaire,” was the second piece of the night. Choreographed by Marius Petipa and re-staged by Professor Wang, the piece was indicative of the quintessential classical ballet. With their decorative tutus and shining pointe shoes, three female soloists performed impressive variations which included numerous sets of difficult turns and leaps. “Odalisquesalso included a male variation which was performed by dancer Greyson Hanson.

“Le Corsaire has always been one of my favorite ballets,” Hanson said, “Having the opportunity to work with Tong on creating a short solo and showing off my specialties was definitely a highlight for me.”  

Professor Lindsey Gilamour choreographed the third piece, “Divine Demoness,” which gave recognition to female empowerment. With a cast of all women, this intriguing piece took audience members out of their comfort zones and into an unexpected array of emotions. The piece started off with an eerie ambience, with dark lights illuminating the dancers and their teased, mane-like hair. As the music intensified, the piece did as well. Dancers ran across stage screaming and chanting a variety of fascinating excerpts from writers Katie McGeorge and Karl Brunnhölzl. The dancing mellowed down as the piece continued with repetitive partner work and chants of “I am full, I am empty.”

Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

During intermission, attendees were able to interact with some of the dancers performing in the next piece: “Hire Knowledge and The Anthropocene.” Choreographed by Dr. Wray, this piece forced an intimate interaction with the idea that our society has self-destructive tendencies that result in severe consequences for the environment that we live in.

The program read, “We are living in a time defined by nuclear tests and plastic pollution; we’ve entered The Anthropocene. Humankind has determined this geological epoch where ecosystems have been significantly impacted. Our insatiable demand for inorganic materials technological warfare and patented produce has already led to global mass extinction of species, and yet we have the ability to make more sustainable choice.”

The dancers themselves personified abstract roles such as “the environment” and “society” in order to communicate the dramatic urgency of our environmental crisis.

The last piece of the night was “Dvorak Serenade,” choreographed by Lar Lubovitch. Interestingly, this was the only piece of the night that included guest artists, Nicole Corea and Tobin Del Cuore, who are principal dancers from the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. The fluidity and beauty of the movements in this piece left many audience members in awe. Each dancer represented the dynamic of a different musical tempo, for example, Moderato, Valse, Larghetto, and Allegro.  

Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

For audience member and dance major Cayla Flagg, this was her favorite piece of the night.

“[Lubovitch’s] piece was breathtaking. I was truly shocked at how closely the UCI dancers resembled Lar’s professional company, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of them,” she said.

The diversity of stories told by the choreography throughout the show, from cultural reverence to environmental advocacy, made for an unforgettable Dance Visions 2019 production.