Mt. SAC’s Dance Department presents its annual Fall Repertory Dance concert from Oct. 25-27 at the Sophia B. Clarke Theater. The performance will include a variety of dance styles that transcends through movement and music.
The repertory concert is co-directed by dance professors Michelle Shear and Karol Ritz, and it will feature original choreography from the entire Mt. SAC dance faculty—which comes as a first for the department. The show also features choreography from adjunct faculty from both Pasadena Community College and Santa Ana College.
Francesca Lee, an adjunct dance professor at Mt. SAC, will feature an emotionally moving piece entitled “Yukie,” which is inspired by the recordings of her aunt’s recollection of childhood memories of living through the Japanese internment camps during World War II.
“I interviewed her, cut parts of her interview and experimented with a few different types of music, and came up with something to kind of go with the storyline of chaos, sadness, with a memory type-feel,” Lee said.
Each choreographer has artistic freedom to create a dance piece to share in the concert. Some dances are upbeat, others have a more serious tone, and some are interpretative, so there is something for everyone.
The show will feature 20 dancers, all who auditioned for the repertory concert back in June of this year. Rehearsals began the last week of August, and each dancer is held to high standards, practicing up to 10 hours a week.
Meghana Bakhshi, a 20-year-old business major, has been dancing as long as she could remember. She began dancing the classical Indian dance style Bharatanatyam when she was six years old, as her parents wanted her to stay connected to her cultural roots. By the time high school rolled around, Bakhshi was introduced to various other dance styles and has not looked back. Bakhshi, who currently serves as the dance club president, balances academics and dance but uses any free time that she has dancing. The repertory concert has been both labor-intensive and time-consuming, but Bakshi finds dance as her “number one passion” and has learned so much from both dance directors Shear and Ritz.
“We’re trying to give [students] that professional experience of the collegiate environment. So we run things very professional, we set very high standards for them,” Shear said.
Shear and Ritz approach their choreography from a collaborative perspective. The directors come up with ideas through a variety of creative concepts and empower their students to contribute ideas to the pieces. Their approach is to motivate their students to invest in the artistry of dance.
“They are not just learning dance, but they’re investing in the process, the movement … the artistry of dance,” Ritz said.
Shear and Ritz both hope that audiences will resonate with the performances of the dance repertory.
“I hope they just experience something that speaks to them,” Ritz said. There is enough variety in the concert to entertain groups of all ages.
Shear hopes audiences are taken on a breathtaking journey. She added by saying, “I hope audiences share the experience of that journey with someone else and then come back to see our concerts again.”
Festivities kick off Friday Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. with a reception in the courtyard outside of Berger Art Gallery and a gallery exhibit. Finger foods, drinks and wine will be served following a gallery exhibit of Professor Jason Perez ‘s “Odar” at 6:30 p.m. The dance repertory begins at 8:00 p.m. For tickets and more information, call the Performing Arts Box Office at (909) 274-2050.