The fifth annual Primavera festival, a celebration of contemporary arts and digital media, culminated in an innovative and diverse set of performances from the UCSB Dance Company last Saturday at Lehmann Hall.
The company’s program featured a unique fusion of modern dance, ballet, jazz and hip hop, giving the student dancers an opportunity to demonstrate their wide range of skills, in addition to their immense talent and creativity. In the opening performance, “Waterwheel,” the dancers’ pastel clothing flowed with the rhythmic music, evoking a sense of awakening and spiritual rebirth throughout the song. The following piece, Janna Diamond’s “Snake.Rattle.Roll.,” featured erratic, serpentine movements, paired with remixed guitar music. The sequence involved a struggle between couplets of dancers, alternating between interlocking and pushing away from each other. The eccentric music triggered a sense of discomfort, elevating the mood of the piece.
“BASK,” choreographed by Christopher Pilafian, premiered at UCSB’s Lehmann Concert Hall in 1994 and was also performed Saturday evening. The piece began with a dancer dressed in white, dramatizing doll-like movements to discordant music box sounds. One by one, more dancers entered, mimicking the original figure’s motions, and adding their own interpretations. Strange, computerized sound effects completed the odd, yet engaging, scene. The dance did not fail to incorporate a sense of humor, and ended with the dancers’ comical, pointed facial expressions.
Two solo pieces brought a new dimension to the performance as a whole. “Cante Flamenco,” performed by Lynda Gutierrez, imbued traditional flamenco dancing with a new twist. Gutierrez, floating in the swirls of her simplified flamenco dress, exhibited strength and power by tapping her feet to the powerful music. Chelsea Retzloff performed “Harmonica Breakdown,” an allusion to the struggles of blacks in the South, paying homage to the power of humanity to break through oppression. The catchy rhythm of the piece was accentuated by the twang of the harmonica music.
The highlight of the performance was the ensemble finale, “At Last It’s Clear,” a fast-paced, energy-charged piece, featuring futuristic jumps, robotic movements, and a synthesis of hip hop beats and classical string music. The cast, united to perform the last piece, proved that it still had an impressive amount of energy left.
As a whole, the Primavera performance was anything but ordinary. Shockingly experimental and undeniably modern, the pieces highlighted the continuing creativity and innovation in the field of dance, leaving the audience members to determine their own interpretations.