McKenna Theatre Goes Global
World Cultures Concert draws dance styles from around the world
November 11, 2006 11:36 PM
The World Cultures Concert went off without a hitch Saturday night, at SF State. Featuring dance styles from around the world, the concert’s offerings ranged from hip-hop and tap, to Afro-Haitian, and various styles of Mexican dance.
Twelve pieces were performed by dancers of the Bay Area, some of whom were SF State dance majors. The director, Dr. Jerry Duke, said he is happy to provide the opportunity to perform for those who are not exposed to it on a regular basis.
“They are so excited to be up there on stage,” said Duke, who has taught in the dance department at SF State for 28 years. “For some, it’s their first time to be up there.”
One of the biggest crowd pleasers in the first half of the show was a traditional Polynesian dance featuring 22 women and five men dancers, along with a ten piece live Tahitian band.
Titled “Mokorea, a Tahitian Legend,” the performance told a story of love between a Mokorean woman and an otherworldly fisherman. The combination of chanting, dancing and beating drums held the audience’s attention throughout the compelling dance.
The biggest change between this year and other years, according to Duke, was the level of interest in hip-hop dance. Three of the 12 pieces performed were hip-hop, more than Duke has ever seen in the 40 years that cultural dance has been performed at SF State.
“The demographics of the University have been changing, and that is evident in what is being performed here. There are three of those pieces here tonight, and that’s three more than usual,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see this kind of dance emerge. I would look in on them every once in a while, and they are really hot stuff, they really work hard.”
The performers contacted Duke throughout the fall semester, with interest in performing at the concert. He would watch their work by video or by a live audition, and then handpick the performances. Some had little time to prepare their work.
Linda Landeros, who choreographed “Celebrando El Norte,” a traditional Mexican dance that paid homage to Mexican big bands, said her group, a mix of SF State students and others from around the Bay Area, rehearsed intensely for a month before the show. It all paid off, she said, when she felt the energy of the audience.
“I was really pumped up by the audience,” said the 21-year-old dance major. “It went so well, and we all enjoyed it.”
Another performer, Vanessa Sanchez, a Child and Family Studies major and dance minor, choreographed a tap piece that she performed solo. The dancer said her inspiration for choreography comes from somewhere inside that she can’t explain.
“Sometimes I’ll just do something and I’ll be like, what did I just do?” said Sanchez, 22. “It just comes out, and when I perform it, it’s so much fun.”
The concert drew roughly 250 people, a usual turnout for this event, according to Duke. One of the best parts for him is seeing dance channeled through different cultures and techniques.
“It’s so amazing to see some of these dancers who have had no formal training,” he said. “You can see they have such an amazing center of gravity. Though the focus of the dancing has changed, this event has continued to draw in a diverse range of groups, and they’re all good.”
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