Dance styles vary, but the Deyo Dances concert at the Spanos Theatre reflects a theme of community and communication, explained director Lisa Deyo.
Two of the pieces are world premieres. My Village discovers connections between different elements in a community, and DYLMHa (dilemma) explores conversations between people speaking different languages. The other dances are revisions of Sketches on the Spectrum, examining autism from the inside and the outside, and The Red Shoes, featuring 23 community members in a whimsical number about reactions to a childs sparkly shoes.
The diverse works all involve a sense of community and how it affects family, village and nation, Deyo said.
My Village was inspired by a recording of folk songs and childrens songs in Catalan, the ancient language of Catalonia. Deyo realized that the translations reflect the components of a village how different each one is, but how essential they are to each other and the community as a whole.
It opens with an ensemble section, with the eight Deyo dancers, then segues into a duet about two sisters, then a trio depicting lifelong friends, a solo by a grieving widow, next a romantic duet and a closing section with all the dancers together again. The dancers are Deyo, Helene Dinsmoor, Mallory Furtado, Solina Lindahl, Dana Lossing, Amanda Rounds, Drew Silvaggio, Elena Smith and Harmony True.
DYLMHa is a lighthearted piece that features live music and involves the dilemma of people speaking two different languages, not just spoken languages but the language of dance and the language of music.
I teach jazz at Poly, Deyo said, and I notice how the way musicians and dancers communicate is so different. This piece shows what happens when the musicians and dancers mix it up as they try to communicate, in vignettes with varying outcomes. Its so much fun.
The title of DYLMHa comes from a sequence in the childrens book, Go Dog Go. The initials are from the repeated question, Do you like my hat? This schtick is part of the piece, Deyo explained. The musicians are Dave Becker, musical director, Steve Carlson, Jess Rounds and Lauren Wasynczuk.
The community piece, The Red Shoes, is another whimsical number. The dancers, some experienced and some with no dance experience, range in age from 5 to 50-plus. The idea for the choreography came to Deyo when she noticed the reaction of women of all ages to her then pre-school daughters sparkly red shoes.
Women said, Oh, theyre beautiful, I wish I had a pair.
We made our own sparkly shoes, the director said. The piece celebrates the spirit of how it came about.
I also like the idea that Dorothy (in The Wizard of Oz) was transported by her red shoes.
There is a five-minute pause in the show after The Red Shoes to sweep up the sparkles.
Sketches on the Spectrum was originally created and performed with Ballet Theatre San Luis Obispo for the Arts for Autism event a year ago. Originating in a concept from Theresa Slobodnik, Deyo choreographed this ballet to reflect the different aspects of being on the autism spectrum, she said.
I dove into it and fell in love with it.
She approached the choreography from the point of view of the person with autism, as well as those affected by it, the family and the community. One of the challenges of communication with someone who is autistic is how to convey closeness and love in nontraditional ways, Deyo explained. Saying I love you doesnt translate, and ordinary ways of expressing love, like a hug or a gesture of comfort, dont always work, but repetition does.
After you get over the annoying aspect of repetition, it becomes a rhythm, and the consistency is comforting.
The segment closes with a recording of Rosemary Clooneys song Hey, There (you with the stars in your eyes). Its a lovely resolution to the piece.
There will be a question and answer period following the performance, said Deyo, noting that the Spanos Theatre is an intimate space that lends it to audience interaction.