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Sonoma County Gazette
The vibrant piece “Kuondoka.”
The vibrant piece “Kuondoka.”

Review – ‘Spring Dance Concert’ at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park

Apr 22, 2019
by Alexa Chipman


Impressive artistry and movement take center stage in the annual ‘Spring Dance Concert’ at Sonoma State University. Esteemed choreographers gather to create moving, contemporary works with the students, who embody them wholeheartedly. In the final weekend, the ensemble is joined by a group of alumni who will perform “Perceptual Realities” in addition to the core dance pieces.

“Kuondoka” By Erin Landry

Tropical flavored with vibrant, bouncing energy, this piece whirls and flows with impeccable timing. There are no weak links in the flow of musicality that features round, embracing patterns and a cheerful outlook.

“pressure/shift” By Kristen Daley (in collaboration with the dancers)

An atmosphere of ominous darkness hovers over crisp, snapping focus changes from the dancers. Unusual and fascinating, the strange rhythms and shuddering intensity are chillingly beautiful, requiring precise control from the artists, who must isolate specific muscles to create vibrating tension on stage.

Giulie Bermudez gives a virtuoso solo with sweeping gestures and perfect tumbling, leaving the audience mesmerized by her range of emotion conveyed through the choreography. Partner lifts and falls throughout ‘pressure/shift’ demonstrate a deep integrity of trust between the dancers.

Casting geometric patterns, Rose Hattar’s lighting design is an integral part of this piece, with dancers actively reacting as it shifts, becoming part of the art, rather than an afterthought.

Dancers are bathed in dramatic lighting for pressure/shift.

“Urgent-GTS” By Christine Cali (in collaboration with the dancers)

Opening in charged silence, this dance explodes into anger-driven kicks and leaps, always rushing with nervous energy. Dancers fight with themselves and each other in jerky motions, even shouting “now” at crucial moments.Jacob Gonzales uses lighting to project looming shadows of the dancers’ frantic patterns, leading to a captivating ending.

“?” By Larry Arrington (in collaboration with the dancers)

This poetic piece includes extensive use of spoken word, with intriguing visuals of drifting mist and laptop app icons as a backdrop. At times it ventures toward feeling contrived, but the authenticity of the ensemble keeps it grounded with touches of humor. This contemplative, playful journey includes an entertaining use of “I Want to Dance with Somebody” byWhitney Houston.

The ensemble competes in Running as long as we can.

“Running as long as we can” By Monica Bill Barnes

If dance was a sports competition, what would it look like? In “Running as long as we can” a group of driven, but supportive students appear on stage with an enthusiastic narrator commenting on their performance. The wings are pushed aside to show the entire backstage, and the ensemble demonstrates a variety of feats, from a snap-off to the challenging “attitude devant” balancing on one foot.

The audio overlay becomes a series of interviews with the dancers, with amusing insights, such as thinking of the audience as stuffed animals when the lights go down, to avoid stage fright. The confident, positive spirit of this choreography is a strong sendoff for the evening.

Spring Dance Concert
Presented by Sonoma State University Department of Theatre Arts & Dance
through April 27, 2019
Thurs/Fri/Sat at 7:30pm
Tickets: $10-17, Free with SSU Student ID

Evert B. Person Theatre at Sonoma State University
1801 E. Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

(707) 664-4246

Photos by James Wirth Photography.

Alexa Chipman Live Theater reviews

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