It is fundamentally known that art will either disturb the unsettling, untouched crannies of your brain or evoke comforting familiarities known only to the individual. Using the medium of dance to trifle with those wavering emotions, the UCSB Dance Department presented their annual Spring Dance Concert in Hatlen Theater from April 10 to 12. This year’s production, titled Soul Particles, featured seven segments performed by a total of 40 students dedicated to presenting the various styles of dance.
By mindfully incorporating costume design, a lighting system and an unconventional music selection, the concert expanded the definition of dance to create a more complex and elaborate interpretation for audience members to ponder over.
A restless, plucky orchestral track roared from the speakers to signify the beginning of the first dance piece, “Six in the Field.” Accompanied by a large screen that presented moving images of deep space, six students swayed onto the stage to perform nimble twirls and brisk technique. With linked arms and light hops, the performers mirrored singular stars within a galaxy to eventually assemble into delicate constellations.
“It was clever to use images from NASA as a multimedia element,” commented first-year Paris Cullen. “It really added to the feeling of a galaxy endlessly expanding.”
Another segment called “Chocolate Delight” played on the childlike curiosity and innocent jealousy we occasionally expose regarding trivial matters. Set to woozy, cheerful soul tunes by Ben L’Oncle Soul and Stevie Wonder, a small box of chocolate became the object of desire amongst several dancers. As if in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, they tugged and whined over the sweet treat. A personal favorite, “Chocolate Delight” elicited fond memories of snatching the most pieces of candy in a hectic moment of competition.
Pieces like “Empty Vessels” and “For the Fight” showcased the darker, grimmer emotions of humanity. These segments consisted of spastic fits of movement that contrasted from the earlier exhibitions of grace and elegance. Rather than employing melodies pleasant to the ear, warped sounds of incoherent mumblings and cerebral vibrations resonated throughout the theater. The choreographies materialized emotions of panic and fear into twitchy convulsions and desperate gasps for air more disconcerting than a horror flick.
The UCSB Dance Department has proven more than worthy of composing a concert that both accommodates and alarms the preferences of a diverse audience. At worst, Soul Particles celebrated the craft of dance; at best, it will inspire feelings that explore the human spectrum of emotion.