Dance Jam celebrates art, spirit of movement
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, May 21, 2012 19:05
Despite having key classes cut from their program, the college’s dance students still pleased audience members with an extensive selection of styles and performances in the Knox Center on Saturday.
The Dance Jam, held on Friday and Saturday nights, attracted fewer attendees than in previous years.
“(The turnout) was disappointing,” Richmond resident Jenneke Schoemaker said. “There were so many nice performers. They put a lot of work into it and a lot of choreography.”
A once bi-annual event, the dance program can now only have the showcase once per year in the spring due to budget cuts, dance ensemble coordinator Latanya Tigner said.
Dance as Performance and Dance Ensemble, two courses that help students prepare for the dance performances, were cut from both the fall 2011 and fall 2012 schedules.
With the elimination of those sections, students are left with just the spring semester to conceptualize, choreograph and rehearse their pieces, Tigner said.
“Students had to put in a lot of work,” she said. “Some of the students got their nerves out last night and performed tonight (Saturday) with more confidence. They showed up and they showed out.”
The event incorporated five of the college’s dance classes and three guest groups.
Theatrics major Brandin Mahasin performed in two jazz numbers, a lively hip-hop number and choreographed and starred in a lively reggae piece called “Jamerica 101: Part II.”
In his reggae number, Mahasin stood out throughout the performance as he jerked his limbs to every beat of Elephant Man and Flying Dagger’s music. Three female dancers accompanied him, thrashing their hair around and crawling on the stage throughout the animalistic dance.
“I had fun,” Mahasin said. “I had a lot of nerves, but they help me do what I do and morph into the person I am on stage.”
He said before going on stage, he does a lot of positive thinking to ensure people love what he does.
Richmond resident Ayanna Rufael was one of the many impressed audience members.
“I love watching the dances here at (Contra Costa College), especially the kids. I thought some of the kids were even better than the adult dancers,” she said.
Montalvin Manor Elementary School’s Pride Pack, made up of some the school’s young student-dancers, began its number “Bitter Sweet” with several little girls dancing serenely to The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” in pink tutus. In the middle of their dance, a little boy chased the dancers off the stage and roused the crowd, breaking into a solo dance to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” The little girls came back onstage and ended the number dancing energetically to Outkast’s “B.O.B.”
Sociology major Andrea Olivares performed in five of the dance ensemble pieces and choreographed Montalvin Manor Elementary School’s dance.
Rufael said she appreciated the inclusion of traditional dances, like the Argentine tango.
“It gives you a feeling that even though they have modern dances, they don’t forget where they come from,” she said.
One of the most impressive groups of the night was the Dimensions Extensions Performance Ensemble. Directed by Tigner, the dance ensemble is a youth program based in Oakland, for members aged 12 to 19, to train in several styles of dance, such as jazz, hip hop, modern, ballet and traditional African movement.
Dimensions Extensions members performed three parts to a piece titled “Do You Really Know.”
The members were some of the more skilled dancers featured in the Dance Jam, maintaining precise formations with all of the members dancing in sync.
For the third part of the group’s piece, the group uniquely blended multiple dance styles to Native American group Ulali’s music.
“I liked the Native American music,” Rufael said. “I loved the colors and the way they danced.”
Six dance ensemble students created choreography to modern individual pieces.
“The individual performances stood out the most,” Schoemaker said. “They all did a good job.”
At the end of the performance, Tigner talked about the program’s need for support in order to survive the budget cuts, and encouraged students sign up for the remaining dance classes in the fall to show the college administration that the classes are not deserving of being cut.