Six scattered, lonely dancers take turns being illuminated by a spotlight, as “Fall Dance Theatre” begins in Cal State Fullerton’s Little Theater. The show opens with a contemporary ballet number in which each performer blindly searches for their other half.
Whether it’s through the impeccable costumes or the stage lighting that matches the emotions of each ensemble, the concert gracefully transports audiences into the choreography imagined by coordinator Gladys Kares in collaboration with CSUF students, faculty and alumni.
While perhaps not every piece will resonate with audiences, and some tend to drift off at points, certain acts are incredibly memorable, making eyes water and hearts break as the viewer is swept away by the shoes of the dancers particularly with “And Then …,” “The Bystander Effect” and “Always Remember … Never to Forget.”
“And Then …,” choreographed by Muriel Joyce, is accompanied by Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Prelude No. 1 in C major” and “Suite No. 3 Air.” After hopelessly searching the stage, the dancers finally come across their soul mates and the melody shifts from sorrowful to cheerful. The performance radiates happiness, shown through the dancers’ faces as their despair turns into pure, innocent bliss.
“The Bystander Effect,” choreographed by A’Kaila Willis, takes a dive into police brutality, as onlookers watch a black man get beaten by a white man but make no attempt to stop it. The act starts with “Proverb” by Steve Reich, a chilling song that immediately places the audience into the hostile atmosphere of the piece. The performance itself is agonizing as sympathy grows for the victim, causing viewers to contemplate the message.
In all it’s glory, “The Bystander Effect” sends a strong message, forcing the audience to pay attention to the anonymous acts of violence that occur daily and how most individuals try to opt out of situations rather than stepping in and trying to diffuse it.
Another heart-wrenching piece is Macarena Gandarillas’ “Always Remember … Never to Forget.” The number starts off delightfully as a young, playful couple leaps back-and-forth around a counter. When the young man must leave for the army, a captivating timelapse is impressively choreographed with the dance as he leaves for the army, goes to bootcamp and eventually to war with his troop, straining the couple’s relationship.
With its standout pieces about heartbreak, happiness, politics and other memorable themes, the concert has universal messages that will capture audiences with more than just impressive technique.
“Fall Dance Theatre” will run in the Little Theater until Dec. 10.