The Contemporary Dance Ensemble celebrates its 10th anniversary

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Dance Class 163 Contemporary Dance Ensemble (CDE) is celebrating 10 years of its annual dance concert with its special 10th anniversary contemporary production, “Directions: One Breath at a Time”.

“Directions: One Breath at a Time” showcased true art of emotion and movement through dance as the ensemble’s first virtual performance and was inspired by the concept of the moments people live in. The production took place from March 12 to 20. .

The possibility of the show taking place was slim due to the constant change in COVID-19 protocols for in-person instruction. Dance 163 is a two semester course and was one of the few in-person courses for fall 2020.

CDE artistic director Kenneth Balint lobbied for the production to take place for his students but faced challenges due to the pandemic.

“The biggest challenge was not having an audience. Playing in an empty house was just weird, the atmosphere was dead and had no energy, ”Balint said. “The dancers had to support themselves.

Although “Directions: One Blast at a Time” took place virtually, Balint said the CDE received great support and encouragement from the public.

“A lot of people are going the extra mile to support the arts and students this year. Sometimes it’s just the prospect of having something taken away that makes it a little more valuable where you want to reach out and experience it, ”Balint said.

With only 12-foot zones for each dancer, the production was only allowed nine dancers to match the risk assessment for the studio and the stage. Compared to last year, there were twice as many dancers.

The nine Fresno State students who starred in the production were Nicholas Castro, Khalil Curry, Megan Evans, Cory Faamausili, Fatima Flores, Alicia Longoria, Jessica Lopez Morales, Jose Ruiz and Siena Simas.

Photo courtesy of Miguel A. Gastelum

There were also three student choreographers because the department could not bring in outside choreographers from across the country.

The student choreographers were senior Ruiz, Morales and Castro who all graduated in dance.

Ruiz choreographed and was also the costume designer for his piece titled “June 24,” which was a contemporary style performance that conveyed dissociation. The theme of the performance was inspired by Ruiz feeling dissociated from everything around him.

Castro was the choreographer and costume design coordinator for his piece titled “Amateur”. who played a role in each of the student choreographed pieces on “designated spaces and the bodies and lives that live there,” Balint said in the production program.

Morales said she has been dancing since she was 16 and this was her first time as a student choreographer.

She was the choreographer of the play called “Catharsis”, which told the story of grief and loss.

“For me, dancing means being able to move freely without limits. It’s freedom, ”Morales said.

“My goal was for the audience to be touched by the choreography through a computer screen… everyone worked so hard to create a piece with some type of connection without physical contact,” she said.

One of the highlights of the dance ensemble’s production was the performance of “This is NOT the Tony Bennett Concert,” which was a celebratory performance for the group’s 10th anniversary.

“This is NOT the Tony Bennett concert” featured former dancers from past performances and nine current CDE class dancers.

Choreographed by Balint, this piece paid tribute to the 2005, 2012, 2016 and 2021 distributions of this particular dance work.

Balint helped choreograph several pieces throughout the CDE’s performance and even acted as artistic director of “We Work Alone Together” which offered a glimpse of seven different shots of everyday life in a 10×10 cube.

Other pieces throughout the night such as “Solo Project / COVID-19 Style” included both faculty and students in a collaborative performance that allowed ensemble members to show off their talents before the spotlight is on the next dancer.

In the “Directions: One Breath at a Time” program, Balint made sure to thank those in the Arts & Humanities department who helped create this production.

“I would like to thank the Acting Dean of Arts and Humanities [Honora] Chapman, Associate Dean La Porta, Director of the Department of Theater and Dance J. Daniel Herring and Professor of Theater Liz [Elizabeth] Crifasi for their unwavering support in making this production possible. I am delighted to present the nine dedicated, determined and talented dancers of the Contemporary Dance Ensemble in “Directions One Breath at a Time”.

Written with the contribution of Halle Sembritzki

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