Marissa Bostick | Staff Writer
August 22, 2015
Riverside City College’s dance department recently put on its annual summer showcase featuring a variety of dances in various genres including contemporary, ballet and Broadway.
With the exception of two faculty members, RCC students choreographed the dances.
The free event was not just about showcasing students’ work but also about raising money for dance scholarships with a donation jar.
Although the event did not have a specific monetary goal, according to Associate Dance Professor Mark Haines, it raised approximately $600 to be used as housing for dance student Ericka Brown at the Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop.
The showcase opened with a cultural piece titled “Shu Jamila” choreographed by Samar Yehia. While the piece was not as polished as it could have been, what it lacked in readiness it made up for it in high energy. Each dancer in the performance brought something unique to it, as the dancers twirled and winded to Indian inspired music.
Kai Weldon’s piece “So, what’s your real name?” was a unique act in the showcase with a message to share. Weldon along with Megan Fowler-Hurst and Jayson Watson put on a moving story about transgender sexuality. The piece opened with the trio dressed in suits and heels only to end with them in various undergarment combinations not regularly associated with gender norms.
Two honorable mentions for the showcase were Hannah Boatman’s “Bodied” and Jayson Watson’s “Descend.”
Many of the performances featured a strong storyline including Jayson Watson’s solo piece titled “Descend” to Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt.” Watson’s intense emotional delivery and stern facial only brought more seriousness to the already intense story about a man’s descent into a destructive lifestyle.
At one point in the performance, Watson engaged the audience as he pantomimed snorting cocaine of an empty chair and then making eye contact with audience members.
What truly made Hannah’s piece memorable was its use of Sonya Renee’s “The Body is Not an Apology.”
As the words picked up in intensity so did Hannah’s dips, bends, and extensions giving life to the already powerful performance.
The poem along with Hannah’s movement echoing the words allowed a touching reminder to express to all that the body needs to be accepted and celebrated.
Associate Professor Mark Haines choreographed one of the faculty pieces in the showcase. Haines’ piece was titled, “Between Two Thorns” and featured soloist Manuel Meza dancing to “La Vie en Rose” by Plaf and Louiguy.
“Between Two Thorns” showed the audience a seemingly love stricken man and his coincidentally comedic perils.
Although the pieces recycled dancers across genres, it truly allowed them to display their many talents.
Dancers like Thaddeus Ellis Jr., who managed to be in six different performances, including a compelling contemporary piece to an energetic Broadway number, made the genre-hopping look like something a novice dancer could pick up.
Even though the showcase only lasted about an hour, it somehow managed to jam in 14 superb acts by the students of Riverside City College.
The showcase allowed a multitude of stories not normally discussed because they are often considered too taboo to be told.
Love, loss and self-hate may have been a theme amongst the pieces but the talent on display did not leave you burdened with sadness.
To finish out the show in a light mood a exciting interpretation of the Broadway classic Chicago “Cell Block Tango,” choreographed by Jaylon Bennett, was put on with the dancers singing to complete the image.
With the Summer Showcase complete, the dance program is now ready to begin preparations for the annual Riverside Trolley Dances Oct. 18 and Kinetic Conversations 2014, which is slated for Dec. 4-6.