‘Shift’ director Diana Stanton praises her dancers as ‘creative and enthusiastic.’
‘Shift’ director Diana Stanton praises her dancers as ‘creative and enthusiastic.’ PHOTO BY KIEL CARREAU

The title of Orchesis Dance Company’s Cal Poly concert reflects the nature of dance today, said Diana Stanton, director of the show. “Shift” was the title selected for this year’s performance by dancers in last year’s concert, and it is a concept easily interpreted in many ways.

“It can mean a shift of the body, a shift of focus, a shift toward a new direction, and art itself, shifting and changing,” Stanton said.

The concert features an eclectic program of works by guest artists, as well as local choreographers, faculty and students. The wide variety of approaches represents current trends in dance, Stanton said.

“In the old days, different people were devoted to their own genre or style (such as modern, ballet or jazz), but now we see a fusing together of different forms and modern techniques.”

Today’s choreographers are more likely to emphasize content rather than focus on moves and form, she noted. The pieces are often provocative and emotional, expressing feelings and moods. But the influence of multimedia technology can also be seen in today’s art, and is reflected in the unique finale of the concert, Stanton said.

Choreographers and dancers collaborated with liberal arts and engineering students to create a film of dance which will be shown on three video screens as dancers perform live. The film and performance complement each other.

Other highlights of the concert will be work by guest choreographers who were invited to Cal Poly to spend time in residence working with the dancers who will perform their pieces. Christopher Vo of Lar Lubovitch dance company came from New York for a week and taught “an intensive format,” Stanton said. His piece, “De Profundis,” is classical and abstract, but she finds it “moody, and lyrically beautiful.”

“My interpretation is that it’s about hope, tragedy, and compassion.”

Mike Esperanza, who has his own Southern California company, Bare Dance, choreographed “Portrait.”

“It’s about mourning and death, but his style is athletic, physical and quirky,” Stanton said.

Yannis Adoniou, a dancer with Lines Ballet and founder of the company Kunst- Stoff, came to Cal Poly on an Inner State Grant. His piece is titled “Pursuance/ A Love Supreme.”

“Although he’s a ballet dancer, this 14-minute piece is very contemporary, visually stunning and energetic,” Stanton said. “He lets the dancers’ personalities shine through.”

Stanton’s own piece, “Rock Paper Scissors” is about competition, she explained. “It’s fast, relentless and athletic, as the dancers one-up one another.”

Faculty members Michelle Walter, Moon Ja Minn Suhr and Lisa Deyo have designed new ballets for the concert. Valerie Kline’s modern piece is titled “Help Wanted.”

Four student choreographers were selected by audition. “Sleepin’ Single Like We Do,” by McKenna Friend, is set to “Cry Me a River,” and tells the story of three women jilted by the same man. Misty Moyle’s “Breathe” will be accompanied by a piece of slam poetry written and spoken by Megan McIntyre. The dance is about sexual violence.

Aimee Warner’s modern piece is set to “Hoppipolla,” by Sigur Ros. “Erase,” choreographed by Danielle Dahlerbruch, explores the process of ending a relationship.

The concert includes 22 members of Orchesis Dance Company and 20 guest artists, including other dancers, the poet, and film students.

With the input and expertise of the guest choreographers and the collaboration of the liberal arts and engineering students, this concert has been an especially rewarding experience, Stanton said.

“The students have been creative and enthusiastic.”