University Times

A Dance That Will Put You In a Transe

A new CSU initiative sets out to help students connect with alumni

Anthony Karambelas

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Everyone knows that April showers bring May flowers. But a lesser-known fact is that April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. What has Cal State LA done to honor this annual occasion? In two words: a lot.

The 12th Annual Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities (CSGS) Student Research and Creative Arts Conference on Genders and Sexualities grants students from all disciplines the opportunity to share their contributions to gender and sexuality awareness.

To give an idea of the diversity of student work they present, the following departments were represented: Chicano Studies, Communication Studies, Dance, English, Chicano/a & Latino/a Studies, Liberal Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Philosophy, and Pan-African Studies…and the list goes on.

CSGS Director and Associate English professor Dr. Linda Greenburg noted this was their first year adding Creative Performing Arts to the panels.

The “Dance, Costume, and the Performance of Gender” panel, students Alexander Lucero and Aric Martin provided insight into their work on a Cal State LA dance show entitled Transversals. Both students received fellowships from the CSGS for their work on the show.

Alexander Lucero, a senior fashion student, who worked as the director and costume designer for two of the pieces in Transversals said, “With the costumes, I wanted to take away gender…so they’re not male dancers, they’re not female dancers. They’re just dancers.”

Transversals, this year’s show, naturally focused on gender and sexuality. Put on by the 30-member club, Dancing Cal State LA, performance seeks to “[suggest] new lines that break from traditions,” as written in their statement. The show consisted of eight dance pieces, all geared toward this common theme, but differentiated in how they interpret and express it.

However, Transversals would not exist without the support of Professor of Dance Dr. Seonagh Horne. Seven years ago, Dr. Horne introduced a tradition to campus that would last to this day: the International Day of Dance (IDD).

Presenting different themes every year, the IDD strives to produce powerful messages through dance. “In this way, we open a dialogue with the community through movement and interdisciplinary connections,” Dr. Horne said.

To the onlooker, their dance may seem like any other expressive, passionate and artistic endeavor. What might not be so evident is the underlying message.

As the dancers move elegantly and gracefully across the room, Rehearsal Director Kimberly Baliutavicius highlighted the masculine movement defined by the “running, kicking, throwing, sweeping, pushes and falls…powerful movement” in contrast to the female movement, which seeks to emphasize the “sexual feminine side.” She characterizes this motion with “body rolls and openness…fluidity [of motion].”

Drawing attention to the blur between male and female roles within the piece, Baliutavicius pointed out how one of the female dancers would deliver masculine and feminine movements. As for the constant kicking in the piece, it’s not just an expression of rage or frustration. It’s a fight against gender stereotypes imposed by society. The title of the very piece is not just “some random dance about gender and sex.” It’s “in my skin’s knowing.”

Kevin Fonseca, one of the junior dancers in the piece, said “[I fight against] stereotypes of machismo that play into people’s perceptions about my choices to be involved in an art form that is not considered masculine.”

Jessica Sandoval, the sophomore female dancer, explored both male and female movements. “Power of my movement in this piece is about my power as a woman,” she said.

“Part of the joy is that it kind of becomes like a family,” says Dr. Horne. “Advanced dance students depend on one another as they work with experienced alumni choreographers, guest artists, faculty, and graduate student choreographers.”

So join the family! Transversals will be showing at the Luckman Intimate Theatre on April 22-23 at 7:30 P.M. and April 24 at 2:30 P.M. Tickets are available at www.calstatela.edu/mtd.

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