MFA in Dance Thesis Concerts
Sampling of a few dance thesis concerts from the MFA Class of 2014. . . .
Melanie Hawkes: “#SwanLake examines the role that text messaging, social media, and the Internet play in the loss of privacy, in our personal lives, and in our contemporary relationships through a present-day retelling of the classic Swan Lake ballet. This classic story made anew unfolds quickly in a one-act ballet with quirky re-imaginings of the four little swans, a peaceful lakeside scene filmed in Huntington Harbor, humorous text conversations, a wild club scene to Tchaikovsky’s music remixed into a dubstep, and a surprise finale as characters are uploaded and downloaded from the cyber-world.”
Ali McKeon: “Sway is a choreographic exploration of my thesis research as it pertains to issues of identity, feelings of belonging, and aesthetic influence in Hawaii. Defined by smooth, connected, full-bodied movement that is dynamic, emotionally poignant, and visually stimulating, the choreography conveys the subtleties of Hawaii through a physicality grounded in flow and modern/contemporary dance, and embodied understanding.”
Mlondolozi "Mlondi" Zondi's MFA thesis project titled "fix" is a multimedia artistic theorization of the relationship between dance performance and activism. "Fix" explores themes of decolonization and assesses the intersections of gender, race, and class by using a methodology of gathering and presenting oral histories and what performance theorist E. Patrick Johnson coined "theories of the flesh."
Regina Carli: My thesis research focused on screendance, specifically philosophical ideas behind the recorporealization of bodies for the screen. I created a work for the stage, Unus Mundus, which I then adapted for the screen. Unus Mundus, Latin for “one world,” is the concept of an underlying unified reality that everything emerges from and returns to. The twelve-minute screendance was filmed at locations all over Southern California as well as in the green screen studio in the Contemporary Arts Center at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.”
From the MFA Class of 2013
Jackie Kopcsak. “My thesis research investigated the neglected artistic legacy of Paris Opéra ballerinas in the era of Edgar Degas. As my written work focused on the female dancers' first-person accounts, I explored Degas' dance imagery choreographically in my thesis concert, Divertissement Degas – a one-act story ballet set to period music that wound its way through some of Degas' iconic paintings, including the charged mother-daughter relationship of Waiting, ballet master Louis Mérante rehearsing his star dancer in The Foyer de la Danse, and the company assembled for The Rehearsal Onstage.”
Kelly Alvarez. “Kelly Alvarez's written thesis examined the ways in which Denishawn and Los Angeles affected one another, and how the element of celebrity might have played a role in the success of the company and its founders, Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis. Inspired by these figures and a time period (1914-1928) that spawned the birth of modern dance, Kelly created an extended choreographic work, Reflected, Twice Removed, a multimedia journey through time and an exploration of self through the lens of artistic ancestry, performed in the Experimental Media Performance Lab (xMPL).”
Saleemah Knight. “Snow Globeis a four-part work that comments on several issues surrounding the black body in ballet, as it relates to objectification, hyper-sexuality, exoticism, isolation, pressure, and fear. As scholarly research states, this body has and continues to overcome obstacles centered around discrimination within the ballet world, related to the fact that ballet is a Euro-centric art form, primarily dominated by whites, and based on European cultural values. The implication of this work is that the black body faces many obstacles in terms of fitting into the ebb and flow of ballet culture; however this body can be recognized as an integral part of ballet history.”
Jessie Ryan. “8 Studies on The Green Table is a reinterpretation of the 1932 Kurt Jooss masterwork in eight short videos. Each section was approached with different choreographic and filmic methods: some were recorded live performances, while others were developed specifically for the screen.”
Celeste Lanuza. “Celeste Lanuza’s Camino del Alma (Journey to the Soul)integrated a company of nine dancers, six musicians, and original music co-written with her father surrounding the theme of cultural difference and misunderstood language. The choreography was inspired by American dance legend, José Limón, drawing from his life and the influence of his Mexican cultural heritage on his work. The concert follows the journey of an immigrant/one man's quest for identity through hope, dreams, disappointments, and renewed courage.”
Asuka Sakuta.“Exhibit 1-6consisted of movement phrases generated by improvisational tasks. The performance took the format of a 'human installation,' in which dancers were placed in their own 'exhibit' space, and the audience members were welcome to observe, touch, and interact with each of the 'exhibits.’”