Students, faculty, and guest choreographers will celebrate the Theatre and Dance Department’s 60th anniversary with a special presentation of the University Dance Company/Dance Sites 2016, featuring the re-creation of a groundbreaking dance number.
Directed by Professor Lorelei Bayne, Dance Sites 2016 will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7-8, 8 p.m. Dec. 9-10, and 2 p.m. Dec. 11 on the main stage of the University Theatre.
The concert’s centerpiece is a suite of dances from “A Choreographic Offering,” part of a larger work created by José Limón (1908-1972), who is considered a seminal figure in the advancement of modern dance.
It is being staged by Gary Masters, a professor emeritus of dance at San Jose State who has worked with the Limón Dance Company and Foundation as a dancer, artistic associate, and director of the company’s San Jose operations.
“The piece is Limón’s tribute to Doris Humphrey, one of the pioneers of American modern dance,” Masters says. “José used about 22 different motifs from Doris’ own works. So they come from her through him to us. It’s a connection to our heritage in a very visceral, internal, kinetic way.”
Comprising 14 Sac State dancers, the suite is complex in structure with a sense of tremendous movement. “Staging it really is like working with an orchestra,” Masters says. “While some are playing one section or one motif, other dancers are doing other things.”
The suite is one of eight works in the concert, which features a total of 31 dancers and includes music by artists such as Sarah Vaughn, Bach, Peter Gabriel, and Charlie Barnett.
In addition to Masters and Bayne, the choreographers include Linda Goodrich, Philip Flickinger, Nolan T’Sani, Nhan Ho, Osvaldo Ramirez, and Aubri Siebert.
Bayne has been working for some time to pull everything together to stage the Limón piece. “Thirty years ago, I was lucky enough to perform in one of his masterworks during my undergraduate dance education,” she says. “And, with the University’s One World Initiative theme of ‘Inheritance,’ I think it’s especially appropriate this year.”
Masters also notes the thematic relationship of doing such masterwork numbers. “It’s a tribute to dance’s ancestors – to the people who allowed us to be here today, to continue to explore and to investigate, and to find new ways of communicating through the language of dance,” he says.
Tickets for 6:30 p.m. performances of Dance Sites 2016 are $8 general admission and $5 for children. All other performances are $12 general admission, $10 for seniors and students, and $8 for children. Tickets are available at the University Ticket Office, csus.edu/hornettickets or (916) 278-4323.
For more information about the Theatre and Dance Department, its events, and its programs, visit csus.edu/dram or call (916) 278-6069. – Craig Koscho