UCSB Dancers Celebrate ‘Blood, Thought, Muscle, and Grace’


Stunning UCSB Spring Dance Concert: Blood, Thought, Muscle, and Grace

Nura Gabbara

To be a dancer is to be an artist. Dancers are artists who demonstrate stories by use of movement through body, space, energy, and time. After all, dance, specifically ballet and modern styles, showcases the beautiful and masterful strength an individual has over his or her body. To be able to move in graceful forms, such as the plie, pirouette, and jete, is to have synced both mind and body as one artistic form.

Dancers from the University of California, Santa Barbara demonstrated this ability at “Blood, Thought, Muscle, and Grace,” the spring dance performance held April 12-14 in the Hatlen Theater. Directed by Mira Kingsley, this stunning, seven-piece compilation depicted elaborate stories that were enhanced with different dance styles and techniques.

Choreographed by Molly McCord, the show opened with a comical piece called “Submarine Races,” in which female dancers in playful and colorful outfits fought over a man, symbolized by a cutout of a man’s rather good looking and muscular body. Each dancer was mesmerized by the beauty of the cutout and would continue to fight over, dance around, and caress it.

One notable performance was the theatrical and entertaining piece choreographed by Christina McCarthy, called “Requiem for Bubbles.” The piece took the audience back to their childhood days through a lighthearted and merry tale, set in a dreamlike world where everything is teal blue and under the sea. Delicate purple jellyfish, vibrant goldfish, long silks hanging from the ceiling for aerial dancers, and a boy in his pajamas characterized the aquatic scene. It was the only piece this year to feature aerial work and only select students, such as third-year dance major Hilary Bassoff, were given the opportunity to showcase their various dancing abilities.

“[This piece] was about imagination and letting your inner child come out,” said Bassoff.

The show was not just about playfulness and letting go of everyday realities. Choreographer Alannah Pique’s piece, “Entropy,” struck an emotional chord through a moving, contemporary dance. Dim lighting, smoke, soft music, flowing costumes, and the sounds of a light, reverberating heartbeat depicted the journey of delicate dancers, symbolized as particles, in negative space.

“[The dancers] were particles that were colliding, “ said Bassoff. “Some particles work well with each other, and some do not.

The dance show also featured “Abyssinia,” a feminist piece about women workers in World War II choreographed by Genevieve Hand. “Abyssinia” translates to “I’ll be seeing ya,” which was a slang expression widely used in the 1940s when men left their families to go fight in the war. The dance was composed only of female dancers dressed in darkly colored dresses and headscarves.

“This piece is about women finding hope,” said Shenandoah Harris, a first-year dance major who performed in this piece. “It was about women realizing they can live on their own and carry the country.”

The show culminated with a powerful piece directed modern dance choreographer Jose Limon, called “Suite from Psalm.” As stated in the show’s program, for inspiration Limon turned to the ancient Jewish legend of 36 men, ordinary individuals in whom the sorrows of the world reside. The dance featured a strong and powerful style of dancing and was composed of many dancers, emphatically ending the show.