Celebration evokes mixed emotions

The Riverside City College Dance Program’s latest performance, “Celebrate Dance,” showed May 3-5.

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By Courtney Coleman / Staff Writer

By Courtney Coleman / Staff Writer

The Riverside City College Dance Program’s latest performance, “Celebrate Dance,” showed May 3-5.
The show invited the community to join in a celebration of dance and the performing arts.  
The performers were excited to be a part of the presentation.
“This is by far one of the best performances I’ve been in,” said dancer Kenji Maddox, “It’s very different from what I’m used to.”
The show was different indeed.
It started off with costumed dancers taking the stage, single file, via contorted movements.  
The characters each dancer portrayed ranged from a swimmer to a colorful jester, all chaotically dancing about.
The chaos continued for a few minutes until the curtain was drawn to reveal a neon-lit screen, the perfect backdrop for these creatures to express themselves through dance.
In an artful scene, the dancers stripped off their costumes, stripping their identities along with them.
Of course, one identity was left in all of them.
Beneath what makes them unique is what unites them: their love for dance.
They celebrated that love, illuminated only by the colorful screen behind them.
But this was about as celebratory as “Celebrate Dance” got.  
The rest of the show was filled with contemporary dances portraying the sorrows of love, a warning to respect Mother Nature, and other serious issues.
 In one scene, performers danced seductively to a series of monologues focused on rape and abuse.
Not expecting the show to be for mature audiences, some viewers ushered their young children out of the sanctuary.
Marina Orth, one of the recital’s ushers, hoped that the show would help the audience find “the inspiration to become a dancer.”
The performance was definitely inspiring in the sense that its messages of faith, love and loyalty touched the heart.
Hopefully the performance inspired viewers to appreciate dance as well.
After all, the performers did a superb job at nailing dance moves that required both power and skill.
Seeing such passion in the dancers was sure to awe the audience.
Even so, the performance lacked a show of classical dance techniques alongside the contemporary ones favored in the recital.
Sometimes dance is elaborate, like a perfectly synchronized ballet.
Sometimes dance is as simple as wiggling around with joy.
While “Celebrate Dance” made sure to showcase how dance can be used to convey a message, the lack of classical techniques may have caused it to miss the mark helping the audience appreciate dance in every form.
The show closed with what finally felt like a celebration as all the performers danced and clapped down the aisles to an upbeat song.
Perhaps it was just the title of the show that was wrong.
Instead of “Celebrate Dance,” perhaps “Dance Speaks,” or something along that line would have been more appropriate.
Aside from a title that didn’t seem to fit with the content and the fact that some of that content was too dark and dreary for the audience it was reaching, “Celebrate Dance” put on a good show.
Let’s hope it was enough to prove to viewers that dance is an art, and a beautiful one at that.  
 

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