LAUNCH DANCE CONCERT: Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Dance Department

Most of the departments here at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts give a minimum of two concerts per year, sometimes even four (and two or three each semester). But the SOTA Dance Department does one, and a mighty one at that, near the end of the year. This upcoming weekend is this year's dance concert season. This is also the Dance Seniors' last dance concert they will ever have at SOTA, so I decided to dedicate this article to the Dance Department's seniors. The ten lovely ladies graduating from the SOTA Dance Department this year are Nasha Harris Santiago, Audrey Thao Berger, Maya Luna Imperial, Athena Miros, Brianna Vasquez Brosnan, Justyne Belle Greenlaw, Lucy Jaffar, Keiko Kurotani, Adrienne Long, and Maddy Moulton.

DISCLAIMER: I think anyone who knows me just a little bit knows that I come a very far way from dance, and cannot give much description or input other than the general mood or feel of the performance. 

Nasha Harris Santiago was heavily featured in the entire evening, just like all the other seniors, and she performed a solo in When They Go Low, a number choreographed by Lucy Jaffar. This number went very well with the general theme of the evening of equality and the empowerment of all people. When They Go Low incorporated ideas brought up to the surface by this concert, especially the idea of never losing hope and going high when those who wish you ill go low. Nasha's performance projected all of these themes very well.

Audrey Thao Berger performed a duet with Ian Debono called Collide, which they choreographed themselves. This duet also stayed true to the themes of the concert, and Ian and Audrey worked very well together to produce a stunning effect on the audience. Their awareness of the choreography and of each other really brought the piece to a new level.

Maya Luna Imperial was in many numbers, and her performance in Waves and Currents was the most memorable. She depicted the motions of the sea with her body, and the stunning lighting effects produced by the tech crew really enhanced the already fascinating image created by Maya.

Athena Miros danced very well in gestures and angels and Bolt. In both numbers, she manifested very lofty body control and smooth and elegant body motions. Her cream-like movement and very present facial expression gave life and soul to her dancing. I especially enjoyed how she used the negative space in her choreography, and how every single gesture and expression she produced seemed to have a purpose for the portrayal of her character.

Brianna Vasquez Brosnan performed a lovely solo Knocking, which she choreographed herself. This number was performed with heart and passion. The lyrics being about heartbreak and lost/blocked love, Brianna's choreography made it very easy for the audience to sympathize with the character. Her harsh movements during the literal knocking sounds and smooth movements for when the song was describing the unsuccessful love situation depicted the emotional turmoil experienced by anyone with a broken heart.

Justyne Belle Greenlaw performed in Something in the Water, choreographed by Melissa Payne Bradley. This number had a very rhythmic soundtrack and focused a lot on how the dancers' bodies interacted with each other. Justyne performed very gracefully and full of heart.

Lucy Jaffar performed in serveral different numbers and she choreographed When They Go Low. Her choreography was very natural and pleasant to watch (as a person who understands less than zero in dance). Her own dancing was very light and celestial, and it was almost as if she was flying during her jumps.

Keiko Kurotani performed a solo in the number Coloring, which was choreographed by her and Caitlin Miranda. In this number, Keiko made a very rhythmically potent performance with lots of sharp edges and stunningly quick movements. Her skills in robust manifestations of a tempestuous character really seeped through her performance.

Maddy Moulton performed very well in Epilogue, which she choreographed herself. Everything fit very well together, and her personal portrayal of the dance was original and interpretive.

Adrienne Long performed a solo in Phenomenal, which she choreographed herself. This performance was basically a reading of Maya Angelou's phenomenal poem Phenomenal Woman, and Adrienne gave an absolutely fabulous dance interpretation of the poem, and portrayed both the feminine and masculine qualities of the poem. I included the poem below in my post because I love Maya Angelou's poetry, and especially Phenomenal Woman.

Special thanks to department head Andrea Hinman and to all the wonderful artists-in-residence in the dance department. The technical crew consisted of Dexter Chew, Iain Langlands, Sage Pothier, and Justin Svendberg on lights, Sam Travers on sound, and Nina Patchel and Char Burns as stage managers. Paul Kwapy is the Technical Theater Department Director.

I would also send lots of very special thanks to Julie Glantz who does all of the promotional materials and graphic designs for ALL the departments shows, and without whom none of us would have all the pretty posters that we all have.

Also lots of thanks to Colleen Ivie, executive director of Friends of SOTA Foundation.

If you would like to purchase tickets, you can get them here

Now please enjoy Phenomenal Woman by the wonderful poet and author Maya Angelou.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


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