Tucked away in the dance room at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo’s only modern dance company, Variable Velocity, has been rehearsing since fall. Directed by Diana Stanton and Jude Clark Warnisher, Variable Velocity is prepared to open its 10th anniversary show, “Extraordinary Mysteries,” Friday in the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC).
Stanton and Warnisher have selected their favorite pieces from 10 years of working together for the dancers to perform.
At Monday’s rehearsal, the dancers donned costumes and ran through the full show, which Cal Poly alumna and dancer Meghan Morelli said is “very experimental and different from any dance show most people have ever seen.”
“That’s why this show is so special,” Morelli said. “We’re filling other people’s roles. We’re acknowledging everyone who has ever danced with (Variable Velocity).”
Morelli, as well as many members of the company, got involved while dancing with Cal Poly’s dance company, Orchesis. Stanton also directs Orchesis, and pulls dancers from the fall production to work with Variable Velocity.
Mechanical engineering junior Aimee Warner said after working with Stanton in Orchesis, she fell in love with her director’s style of dance.
“It really expanded my knowledge of dance,” she said. “It challenged the way I thought about movement.”
Warner is in her second year with Variable Velocity and said she is especially impressed by the cohesion of the pieces in the show.
“Everything is a little mysterious,” she said. “It’s all a little quirky, a little different and very poignant.”
Despite the fact the pieces were choreographed over a span of 10 years, Warner said they flow together beautifully.
The dancers have been working since fall quarter, but rehearsal for Stanton’s pieces did not begin until February due to her work with Orchesis. Morelli said the small window of rehearsal time has been the biggest downfall.
“The only bad thing about the show is that we’ve had very little rehearsal time for some of the pieces,” she said. “Having less class time definitely made things more difficult.”
Nerves, however, were instantly quieted once dancers took to their positions and began the run through. The show incorporates many experimental elements, said alumna Heidi Vigario, who hopes the show will open the audience’s eyes to different styles of dance.
“We’re showing you dance in a way you haven’t seen in before,” Vigario said. “It’s experimental. It’s collaborative. There’s a really wide range of emotions and themes.”
And with that, Warner said some pieces will leave the audience confused. The directors incorporated singing and speaking into their choreography and have added more than what is to be expected of a dance recital.
“It’s not often that you see someone incorporating speaking into a dance,” she said. “Or you hear someone counting in seconds and not eight counts. But we do that.”
Morelli said the best part of the show was working together with the other dancers.
“Being artists together really bonds you,” she said. “We’re appreciating the last 10 years but we’re also growing in the present.”
Vigario said experimenting with the various pieces helped her to grow as a dancer but also helped create relationships with the other members of the company.
“We all collaborated and we’re all working for the same goal,” she said. “It’s a pretty amazing thing.”
For the first time, Variable Velocity’s show will take place in Harmon Hall in the PAC.
Morelli said she feels nervous, but excited for the new venue.
“It’s a big stage to fill,” Morelli said. “But I’m up to the challenge.”
Tickets for “Extraordinary Mysteries” are on sale at the PAC box office and are $22 for general admission and $15 for students. The show opens Friday with another show Saturday at 8 p.m.
Check out the video on Variable Velocity by Victoria Billings: