Expressing feelings and thoughts nonverbally can be near impossible at times, but The Orchesis Dance Company plans to do just that when they open “Momentum,” their 38th annual concert at 8 p.m. Friday.
Featuring Cal Poly students, faculty, community members and award-winning guests, the company will bring to life a diverse and complex range of emotions through various forms of dance.
“What’s really significant is that at Cal Poly we don’t have a dance major and all the students participating come from all across the university to share their talents,” dance program director Maria Junco said.
Different from past performances, this year’s show will involve a majority of first- and second-year students and very few third-year members. In previous years the performances have included several experienced fourth- and fifth-year participants.
“The ‘Momentum’ theme is appropriate because that is what we’re trying to accomplish,” Junco said. “We want to gather up momentum as a relatively new company and gain strength with our new members.”
Including an assortment of dances ranging from sophisticated and modern to classic and contemporary, with hip hop and tap dance in between, there will likely be something to please everyone in attendance.
Though students primarily dance the pieces, many are also involved in creating them. Francesca Lee, a communication studies junior in her second year with the company, serves not only as treasurer but as a choreographer as well. Her piece, which she created with journalism junior Krizia Torres, is titled “Driven by a Force,” and focuses on intervals in motion.
“It’s a modern lyrical piece set to a song composed by my friend, so the music will match the movements really well,” Lee said. “The concept is about time and how we are constrained by it when it’s really just an abstract concept that is controlling us.
“There is a lot of variety in the pieces and the show will be artistic but also very entertaining,” she added. “We put a lot of time into our work and it’s great that our friends and the community can come and see our love and passion showcased.”
Another highlight of the show will be the dances created by guest choreographers from across the country. San Francisco-based Robert Moses’ contemporary piece “Lucifer’s Prance” will be performed as well as a portion of New York choreographer David Robertson’s piece, “Strange Prisoners,” a contemporary ballet featured in Robert Altman’s film “The Company.”
Moon Ja Minn Suhr, professor emeritus in dance, will be directing “The Black Swan” from Marius Petipa’s historic ballet “Swan Lake.” Suhr created Orchesis in 1969; since then the program has served as a way for Cal Poly students to create and perform the art of dance on a campus where the major is not available.
“Non-professional student performers participating in professional level work is very significant,” Junco said. “These students are exploring sophisticated ideas and trying new things while experimenting and risk taking, and that makes me very proud of them.”
Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday as well as Feb. 7 to 9 in the Spanos Theater. In addition, a 2 p.m. matinee is scheduled for Sunday. Tickets are $10 for students and $13 for the public and can be purchased at the Performing Arts Ticket Office.