Protesting through dance

Dancers performing “La Hielera” and “The Icebox” shows a representation on how detention facilities deprived migrants of “basic needs.”

Tahiti Salinas, Staff Reporter

A series of choreographed dances, paired with visuals and audio titled, “Dances of Protest,” demonstrated the struggles related to issues of detention, oppression and immigration. 

Divided between segments, the dancers performed in the State Playhouse for a three-day show starting Thursday. Graphics projected behind the dancers depicted the detention centers; props were laid out like baby shoes to symbolize the children in the camps.

The director’s note, included in the show’s pamphlet, explained that the choreographers and dancer involved in the production “stand in solidarity with all those affected by violence.” The note, written by director and choreographer Seónagh Kummer, continued, “We dance to provoke questions and to embrace those affected by painful conditions or by violent policies.”

Jennifer Ball, a friend of Kummer, said she was invited to watch the performance and thought the show’s message was very powerful: “I think that [the message] was a beautiful and artistic expression of a lot of cultural issues that are going on right now and it was really neat to see that portrayed out in the stage and it evokes a lot of feeling.”

Attendee Mercedes Bankston said that despite the variety dances, the message of unity was still present. “I thought it was very interesting. I liked all the work that [the choreographers] put in together. I really liked the unity and energy that they put into it, [along with] the different styles, and I could tell that each dance was designed by a different choreographer because they all had a different vibe to it.”

Audience member Jessica Romero explained that she enjoyed the performance due to how impactful it was. “I thought it was really cool. They explored a lot of political issues [like] the assassination of Berta Caceres with the use of dance, music and a lot of the auditory cues that they would use to express that.”

Acknowledging that many departments stand for the themes in “Dances of Protest,” Romero said, “I know that there are a lot of departments on campus, like the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, that really focuses on exploring those issues and sharing them, so I thought it was really nice that the dance program was able to explore that through dance and music as well.”

A fourth-year transfer student from Cal State Fullerton and an acting major, Gabriela Mendoza, said she very much enjoyed the performance.

“I’m really glad I came because it was pretty powerful,” said Mendoza. “The emotion that goes on behind the detention centers and with the border, so it kind of hit me because that’s my culture right there.”

The State Playhouse will open its doors again on March 12 through March 21 for “Bloodless” by Nicholas Walker Herbert, directed by Cal State LA professor Stephen Rothman.