'Berkeley Dance Project 2020' explores community and belonging in showcase of diverse styles and voices

January 23, 2020

UC Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies presents Berkeley Dance Project 2020 at 8 p.m. on Feb. 20–22 and Feb. 27–29 in The Playhouse at Zellerbach Hall. The dance concert features an all-student cast performing new works by Bay Area choreographers Erik Lee, Latanya d. Tigner and Lisa Wymore, as well as works created by students and dance groups at UC Berkeley.

This year, Berkeley Dance Project takes on the overarching theme of community. The wide-ranging showcase features dances that examine the connecting and isolating capacities of technology, cultural changes required for an inclusive society, and possibilities for more accessible exchanges between audiences and performers.

Com. De/vices is Lee's exploration of what he calls the "comical and saddening" ways our society is engrossed in digital media. The piece grew out conversations with youth about how attachment to cell phones and social media negatively impacts genuine communication and relationships.

Cycle is Wymore's study in simultaneously creating and audio describing a dance. The sound score and the audio description create a fuller experience of the dance—for both audiences who have vision impairment and for those who do not—than what is created by the bodies on the stage alone. The sound score supports each mood and shift in the choreography, and the selected words describe and use poetic license to match the intent of the dancers' movements.

United in Belonging is Tigner's meditation on building "a culture of belonging," as envisioned by civil rights scholar john a. powell (sic). The dance challenges audiences to consider how people might "organize our spaces, our structures, and our policies to do the work we need to build the world we want to live in."

The concert is rounded out by four student-created works. Joyce Chan and Eden Cayabyab created Aftershocks and Metamorphosis, respectively, under the guidance of Joe Goode, TDPS professor and acclaimed dance-theater artist. The two duets will provide a compositional contrast to the larger group dances that comprise much of the concert. East and West, by Namrata Subramanian and Mitali Yadav of the student dance group Maya, fuses Indian classical and American pop styles. Equinox, by Michelle Lin of Fei Tian Dancers, employs traditional Chinese symbols to depict the rejuvenation of spring.

Tickets for Berkeley Dance Project 2020 start at $13 and are now available for purchase online through the TDPS box office. Gravity Access Services will provide live audio description and a pre-show haptic access tour for the performance on Saturday, Feb. 22. UC Berkeley's Disability Access Services will also provide ASL interpretation for the performance. Patrons may reserve an audio headset and request other access services by completing an online request form or calling the TDPS box office at 510.642.8827.

About the Production

Berkeley Dance Project 2020 opens Thursday, Feb. 20 and continues through Saturday, Feb. 29 in The Playhouse at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets for students, seniors (age 65+), and UC Berkeley faculty/staff are $13 online in advance and $15 at the door. General admission tickets are $18 online in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets are now on sale through the TDPS box office.

About the Choreographers

Erik Lee, born and raised in Oakland, began his dance journey by choreographing and dancing hip-hop routines at the age of 16. He earned a B.A. in Dance and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley in 2010. Since 2009 Lee has danced with Covenant Worship Center's Worship in Arts Ministry (WAM), where he has been Artistic Director since 2014. In 2011 he joined Dimensions Dance Theater Company, where he continues to work as a company member. He also has served as a mentor for 10 years and as a program director for four years in the Berkeley Scholars to Cal Program at Stiles Hall. Lee recently completed an M.F.A. in dance at Mills College.

Latanya d. Tigner performs professionally with Dimensions Dance Theater, traveling nationally and internationally. She studies various African Diasporic dance forms in addition to contemporary and jazz. Tigner coordinates Dimensions' Rites of Passage program for youth, directs Dimensions' Extensions Performance Ensemble, and teaches dance at Contra Costa College and UC Berkeley. She holds a B.A. in dance/physical education and an M.A. in arts administration.

Lisa Wymore (director of Berkeley Dance Project 2020) performed her graduate study at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. In 1998 she moved to Chicago and continued her career as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She was a faculty member within the Northwestern University Dance Program from 2000 to 2004. She is now Co-Artistic Director of Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts with Sheldon B. Smith. Based in the Bay Area, the company creates multimedia dance theater works and experimental performances. Disappearing Acts recently completed a three year artist in residence program (2015–18) at ODC Theater, San Francisco, which culminated in an evening-length work entitled Six Degrees of Freedom. The piece explored computer augmented performance interfacing with explorations around body memory, sensation, power, and perception. Wymore is now the Chair of the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley, where she teaches classes in choreography, technique, and pedagogy. She is a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst from the Integrated Movement Studies program.

Jeze Fabijanic and Joyce Chan in "Aftershocks" | Fall Choreography Showcase 2019

Jeze Fabijanic and Joyce Chan in "Aftershocks" (photo by ben dillon)