“East Meets West” in a Dizzying Set of Diverse Performances

By: Eashan Reddy Kotha

Photo Courtesy of: Jerry Li

Audiences packed into the Barclay Theater to witness a program of dance and music that stimulated the senses on Oct. 22. The “East Meets West” International Dance and Music Festival was full of wonderful segments. The content ranged from group performances with heavy synchronization to solo performances with every movement onstage being  measured. Since the festival started in 2016, it’s come a long way.

The night’s program was made more special by virtue of it being the first time in its three-year history to feature notable figures in the music scene. Luwa Ke, an award-winning soprano, gave a stellar performance, hitting notes and moving smoothly through her melodies. With the piano accompaniment, Ke’s vocals jumped up and down the vocal register, sounding like a point-counterpoint interaction. Shunxiang Zhang, a well-respected Jing Hu player, toyed with audience expectations while delivering a frenetic performance. Just when one thought the tune was completed, Zhang would start up again, hitting new highs before his bombastic final notes.

The other performances in the program ranged significantly in styles and themes. Ballet dancers from the Southland Ballet Academy took to the stage to perform an excerpt of “Chopiniana.” This act was followed by an impassioned number performed by dancers from the UCI Department of Dance. The Beijing Dance Academy followed up with a brighter performance, taken from the Qin Dynasty’s imperial ceremonies. The vivid attires and movements differed from the night’s earlier segments which predominantly featured more muted color pallets. Providing a stark contrast to the high energy number that preceded it, the Wakashisakai Japanese Dance Group presented a patient, leisurely depiction of an early 1800s sequence within Kabuki theater. The piece, “Fujimusume,” provided a reprieve and drew focus to the ornate costuming and measured movements by Rinsen Wakayagi. Sukunya Kumar’s choreography of “SEA…The Other Side” was stirring, employing multimodality backed by an A. R. Rahman composition, drawing out emotions ranging from curiosity, to bombastic reactions and tranquility.

After the intermission, there was a barrage of performances. The Southland Dance Academy took the stage to perform the “Frescoes.” Claire Goldes’ choreography “Let Me Take Your Pain” incorporated an interview with her grandparents in the score to add an interesting effect. One highlight included Ten Huang’s performance of “Lone Crane.” The deliberate and measured movements Huang made imbibed a sense of fragility to the performance. The Yaya Dance Academy presented a light-hearted routine to the audience’s amusement. The movements were amusing because they were exhibited a childlike energy. Closing out the night was “Blossom,” presented by the UCI Department of Dance.

The “East Meets West” International Dance and Music festival provided an eclectic mix of styles and performances. While the transitions between these individual acts wasn’t part of a cohesive unit, the diversity in scope provided viewers a wonderful splash of the varying performing arts styles and themes.