Isabel Li ’25
For their annual spring dance concert, Scripps College’s dance department presented a breathtaking array of eight performances choreographed by 5C professors, students, and guest artists. Featuring many different styles of contemporary dance, three live shows were held on April 8 and April 9 at Garrison Theater.
The show’s scheduled dates were only two days after the consortium’s decision to halt all 5C events, citing a significant spike in COVID-19 cases. This policy change was made public on April 6 via an email to the student body from Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Adriana di Bartolo-Beckman.
“The week leading up to the shows was stressful for many of us as there were many close contacts and dancers directly affected by COVID-19,” said Ysabel David ’25, who prepared to dance in two selections of the concert program. “Unfortunately, some of our dancers were not able to perform on stage with us, and their presence and hard work throughout the semester were greatly missed.”
Since the concert was categorized as an academic event, the show was not canceled or postponed from its original dates. Friday evening’s concert was also available via a Zoom webinar livestream for those who could not attend in person.
As the theater’s lights dimmed and the red curtains drew back, the first performance, titled “Revival – Hunt for the Well Water,” opened the concert with the work of choreographer Lindsey Lollie. The dance involved the use of two large fans positioned at stage right, creating a windy billowing effect for the dancers’ hair and outfits.
The second and sixth performances, “Richie’s Disappearing Acts” and “Richie’s Reappearance” respectively, were choreographed by Professor Suchi Branfman for “Undanced Dances Through Prison Walls During a Pandemic,” a Scripps Presents event that was held in November 2021. The two dances featured five performers, dancing to the arhythmic introspective narration of Richie Martinez’s spoken story reflecting his experience in prison.
Martinez wrote the first of his stories in 2020 while incarcerated at Norco prison during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the second story upon the conclusion of his sentence in 2021. Professor Branfman has been a resident choreographer at Norco since 2016, and her work paired with Martinez’s spoken word allows a previously unseen glimpse into prison life.
The show then transitioned to “Arowana – study #1,” choreographed by Professor Ronnie Brosterman. In the dramatic dark blue lighting, dancers in bright red dresses emerged onstage one by one with flowy gestures and dance moves, evoking the image of tropical arowana fish swimming in an aquarium.
The next performance, “What Do You Think of This?” choreographed by Sasha Marlan-Librett ’22, involved the dancers speaking directly to the audience. The dance explored the dynamics of perception using questions and answers, asking each dancer how and when they perceive themselves. The use of mirrors, chairs, and microphones as props further expressed the underlying theme of self-consciousness. Because the dance employed the use of spoken words, the dancers took their masks off to make themselves more audible and identifiable.
After a brief intermission, Cameron Boucher-Khan ’22 presented their choreographed dance, “Nobody’s Looking/Fantasy,” which involved a combination of both contemporary and pole dancing. Their performance was choreographed for the senior thesis requirement in dance at Scripps and mainly focuses on the dynamics of sexual pleasure through the movements and choice of the costumes of the dance. Afterward, Jenna Wu-Cardona ’23 performed her coming-of-age dance, “How You Wish It Would Be All the Time: A Tantrum,” choreographed in collaboration with her fellow dancers.
Preceding the final dance was a warning about the use of strobe lights, particularly for photosensitive viewers. “The Evolution of Time” and “Ruptures in Time,” choreographed by Nadia Schwartz Bolef ’24 and Marissa Singh PZ ’23, began with the dancers dancing to a narration informing viewers about the scientific aspects of time. The dance itself reflected the fluidity of time and its dimensions, as the performers were physically connected with one another.
“The goal of this piece is to explore the linearity of time — particularly what do ruptures of time look like — what does movement look like in this fourth dimension,” read the concert program.
When the final dazzling, flashy display came to end, the audience roared and cheered in applause as the curtains closed. It was a concert that not only highlighted the students’ skill and hard work over the semester but also expressed stories and experiences from a wide range of artists. Amidst a time of great uncertainty, especially with many pandemic-related protocols in place, the annual concert was where both performers and audience members could experience the emotional thrills of storytelling and entertainment.
“For many of us dancers, including myself, this was the first time we got to perform on a stage since March 2020, and we could really feel the excitement and energy throughout the entire performance weekend,” said David. “I think that shared experience has made this show even more special and I am grateful to be part of such a welcoming and supportive community that the Scripps dance program fosters.”
Image Source: Kevin Williamson