SAN DIEGO – For approximately two minutes, Tiffany Goff was neither a student nor a dancer. She was a dog named Sam. She waited and paced by the door for her master to come home, and when he did, her canine joy was unbounded.
Goff’s performance in “My Name is Sam” was choreographed by Nancy Boskin-Mullen, a Grossmont College professor of dance, and was one of the highlights of the 2 ½-hour-long performance at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre of “Entrances and Exits,” the annual dance concert featuring the work of Grossmont students and their faculty.
I was very delighted to watch the April 26 performance. While I was not at all a fan of ballet, jazz, or contemporary dance, attending “Entrance and Exits” provided me with new insight into these dance styles.
Music gives off many feelings and emotions and also tells a story. A dancer’s job is to tell that story through movements and facial expressions so people can further understand the music.
Choreographers Boskin-Mullens, Sylvia Morales, and Melissa Adao created dance pieces that interpreted music in a fashion that could be appreciated by both untrained eyes and trained eyes.
For example, Morales “Dance-Play-Dance” was a very playful piece. I happily imagined having a daughter who would similarly play with her friends, smile, enjoy life, and not worry about anything. Through the use of bright colors and lighting, the audience was able to feel the emotions effectively. The facial expressions of the dancers were very clear.
Adao’s “In The Wild” was aggressive and primal. I felt like I was in a jungle surrounded by animals ready to pounce on me at any given time. The expressions of the dancers were fierce, like they were ready to go to war with anyone and destroy anything that got in their way. “In the Wild” was probably the most entertaining work because it was dynamic, from slow to fast and weak to strong. The moves and the music awakened me from a sleepy state and kept me alert.
I had watched almost all the “Entrances and Exits” rehearsals. What I wanted to see was which choreography best illustrated the accompanying song, which needed the most work, and which was most entertaining.
Initially I was frustrated by Adao’s “Throwback Version 2.0” because I felt that the dancers were not sufficiently attuned to the hip-hop style. I’ve grown up with some of San Diego’s best future choreographers from renowned dance troupes such as Indecisive Dance Krew, Natural Vibes, Super Galactic Beat Manipulators, Syde Fx, and Urban Fx and through watching and learning from them, I have gained insight into this art form.
It seemed to me that some of the dancers in Adao’s piece weren’t feeling the music and that they were used to other dance styles such as modern dance. Although hip-hop can incorporate any move from any kind of dance, experience is needed along with extreme effort.
Paul Mota and Kiyoka Nakada, who showed their versatility in other pieces during the evening, were strong in their execution of Adao’s “In the Wild”. Unfortunately some other dancers lacked their precision.
In the final analysis, “Entrance and Exits” was an amazing show. I’ve even begun to like ballet, modern and other dance styles. In the future I might take some of the courses so I can learn more moves that could be used in some of my future hip-hop choreographies. Some of the dancers danced in multiple pieces and I felt exhausted just watching them. A certain amount of stamina is needed in order to do this and there are not many dancers who can dance in 2-3 minute choreographies 2-3 times and with only a few seconds or minutes of break.
I will be looking forward to more dance concerts featuring Grossmont students and faculty and hope to learn more from the choreographies.
Asuncion is arts editor of the GC Summit. He may be contacted at [email protected]