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“Dance Visions” Captivates Audiences At The Barclay

The UCI Dance Department faculty created some new incredibly choreographed works for this year’s “Dance Visions” at the Irvine Barclay Theatre from Feb. 20 to Feb. 22. Both undergraduate and graduate dancers performed five pieces that were highly intriguing and representative of an array of styles.  

The first piece of the night took the audience to the time of August Bournonville and his classic ballet “La Sylphide.” Restaged by Tong Wang, this five-part excerpt from Act II displayed much tenacity and elegance among the dancers as they performed light and playful movements in perfect unison. The romantic white tutus with fairy wings and the backdrop of a forest helped create a precise representation of the actual ballet. Sarah Kroll and Morgan Rice shared the role of the female lead while Jehbreal Jackson and Jack Patillo shared the role of the male lead alongside twenty-nine corps de ballet dancers. According to Kroll, the leads performed impressive duets and solos with “a lot of jumps and challenging movements.”

“To hide the difficulty of those steps behind the personality of the character was a lot of fun but definitely difficult,” Kroll said. 

Loretta Livingston choreographed the next piece, “In The Presence of Wildness,” which left the audience in complete awe. The all-female cast began with a unison section that incorporated martial arts elements and utilized in sync breathing to help guide their movements. They wore long tribal-like dresses and danced to a plethora of sounds that ranged anywhere from drops of water to bird noises. 

Photo provided by Rose Eichenbaum/Courtesy.

“Through,” choreographed by Charlotte Griffin, showcased a concept of different movements occurring simultaneously, allowing the audience to choose what exactly to look at. The set design was simple, removing all backdrops to expose the back of the stage and the hanging lights. The intense execution was a great attention-grabber, incorporating some unique choreography that made the piece stand out — such as the incorporation of costumes into the movement. The end of the piece involved each dancer coming out of the wing one by one and doing repetitive movements. 

Chad Michael Hall’s “WE GATHER TOGETHER … A cycle of four short dances” introduced a fun concept told by four cohesive dances that each differed while complimenting each other. The first dance included each dancer dressed in black, while the second piece had three dancers dressed in bright colors. The highlight of this dance had to be the third section which displayed a wedding with fourth-year Lexington Demark portraying a “Bridezilla.” The fourth and final section included a beautiful duet that was much calmer and created a feeling of sincerity amongst the contrasting sections that came before. Overall, this piece produced many laughs from the audience but finished with some gorgeous partnering that left an emotional mark as well. 

Finishing the show strong was Lar Lubovich’s “North Star” executing much stamina and power throughout the entirety of the piece. It began with eight dancers holding hands and moving in a wave. The piece continued with repetitive and minimalist movement. A shining moment had to be the solo shared by Lauren Gresens and Nola Gibson that incorporated abrupt, sharp movements that were absolutely mesmerizing to watch. 

“The journey of learning his creation was incredible; Lar is so imaginative and his creative process is unbelievable,”first-year dance major Karalyn Doolaege said.

 This masterpiece from a world-renowned choreographer was a brilliant way of using bodies in space and a great experience of Lubovich’s signature style. 

Ultimately, “Dance Visions” had no shortage of original concepts, talented dancers and innovative choreographic decisions.  Those who had the opportunity to witness this amazing show were treated with an eye-opening experience that was truly unforgettable. 

Jacqui Pash is a Contributing Writer. She can be reached at jpash@uci.edu