Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rogue review for ACDFA Informal Concert 1

Ok! I can't resist! I am compelled to go rogue and be the underground 'adjudicator' for ACDFA's informal concerts. I am writing these reviews because these pieces deserve some more feedback and this way they can share it in a written form with others! Dance writing and reviews have become an endangered species, and this is just my way to give back to the community and support the creative process. Feel free to post your thoughts and questions for the choreographers too!

Let's get the dialogue started!

What a wonderful opening concert for ACDFA Baja Region festival!! The pieces were varied, entertaining, and passionately performed.

San Francisco State University, presented "Tsudoi" which translates as The Gathering. This piece, choreographed by Ayana Yonesaka, gave me visions of raindrops falling and pooling together. I enjoyed the dancers' clear focus, powerful energy and vulnerability. I particularly enjoyed the simplicity of the light blue costumes which presented the dancers line with honesty and simplicity. Beautiful movement that cast a serene spell over me.

California State University, Dominguez Hills presented a witty solo choreographed and performed by Nathan Ortiz, entitled "To be continued..." Nathan's drag costume of black shorts and a playful apron, thick 50's eye liner and "up do" emulated his Amy Winehouse character perfectly. Playfully incorporating a flask, pill bottle and cigarette made it even clearer. I loved the dancer's ability to evoke Winehouse so clearly in his movement. The most memorable movement was the grand plié with shoulder and chest pops. His pearl necklace accidentally broke part way through, but it was a happy accident, creating a most appropriate metaphor for the singer's destructive behavior and eventual demise. The pearls spread across the stage adding an element of disorder and danger that I loved.

Modesto Junior College instructor Lori Bryhni choreographed "Unearthed" a rich and appropriately earthy ensemble piece. This first thing that stood out to me was the beautiful costumes. Long elegant taffeta skirts that draped and swirled beautifully with the movement, catching the light and adding a dimension of visual momentum to the modern dance vocabulary. The dancers performed from the heart. I particularly enjoyed the open hearted release moments in which the ensemble successfully transformed the stage with their unison shapes and unified energy.

Dominguez Hills presented a second work, called "Chasing Clouds", a duet choreographed by Brianna Colon, that was wonderfully endearing. These dancers were so playful in their movements and acting. It really was irresistible. I enjoyed the sweet, human element of the work. And, the use of the star balloons set the tone for the piece and offered a simple metaphor for the audience to enjoy. I could tell that these dancers dance for the love of dance.

Rio Honda College presented a solo choreographed and performed by Tiffany Ramirez, entitled "To Write Love On Her Arms". This solo was a great example of a student choreographer really working through an idea and discovering her voice in movement. I enjoyed the work with gesture and motif, but I also enjoyed her B-boy-like ease on the floor with leg gestures that coordinated with the strong beat in the music. The dancer's commitment and honesty in presenting a piece seemed deeply personal that put me on her side as an audience member rooting for her performance even though I don't know her.

San Jose City College's student Alex Andrews choreographed and performed in this trio set to a poem by Allan Watts. The poem spoke of light and mysticism, and the dancers flowed through the space in their white garments to inhabit the universal energy. The piece was titled, "The Light That Blinds" and may have been served by stronger incorporation of this powerful image. The piece worked to embody the peace and serenity of this mystical energy, and I wonder how the striking image of being blinded by such beauty may have offered contrast to the elegance and beauty in the choreography.

San Jose State University treated the audience with their quirky contemporary jazz style in Dominique Lomuljo's "Miss Shapen Fortune." I hadn't seen the title of this piece before I watched it, but the design of the costumes complemented the design of the movement and attitude for the piece so well that even I considered getting back into a unitard. I loved the jazz elements of this piece that played so seamlessly into the more modern compositional structures. The dancers were appropriately fierce and detached, embodying the aesthetic of the cool that is a thumbprint of jazz dance. My only question was the use of a traditional parallel passé in the turns when so much of the body shaping was charmingly unconventional.

Anyone who attends ACDFA and thinks the informal concerts are not worth their time is sorely mistaken! These pieces were truly fantastic.

What are your thoughts? Did you see the concert? Share your feedback in the comment box below! Then sign up to follow this blog for more dance writing and reviews and my musings about life and being an artist.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.... So please forgive the typos and grammar errors!


  1. Beth! I'm so glad you liked Ayana's piece! The piece was a part of our last student show and I thought it was so stunning. Aw man, this just makes me wish even more I was there with you guys!

  2. But, you are here in our hearts! As I was watching the piece, I was thinking "yep! I can totally see Jana and Andrea thriving in that environment." So cool.