Mendocino College presents
Food For Thought
Mendocino College Repertory Dance Company presents its 24th annual fall production of Food for Thought
“During a long ride to Los Angeles with my friend and Mendocino College art professor, Paula Gray, we spoke about a possible theme for this year’s Repertory dance performance” explains Leslie Saxon West, Chair of the Mendocino College Dance Department and the director of the Mendocino College Repertory Dance Company. “As we were driving and nibbling on snacks Paula blurted out… How about food? And that was the beginning of a very entertaining eight hour drive!
Food for Thought….dances about food, our relationship to food, and dances that provoke deep thoughts comes to the Mendocino College Center Theatre on Friday and Saturday, November 16 & 17 at 8 PM and Sunday, November 18 at 2 PM. In its 24th annual celebration of dance, the sixteen member company presents dances that are poignant and fun; dances that range from silly and absurd to intense and thought provoking.
Opening the show the audience will be treated to a very colorful fruit salad as dancers perform to New Orleans style music in Tooty Frooty choreographed by college dance instructor, Katie Whitmarsh. According to Whitmarsh, “this dance is sassy, cute and silly with lots of fruit to go with it!” Also on the lighter side are a series of short dances entitled Picnic Suite, choreographed by Leslie Saxon West, Susan Era, and the dancers. Saxon West describes these short vignettes as fun and entertaining. “Often these short vignettes are what stand out most in people’s minds when they see our shows” says Saxon West. Everyone needs a break from the seriousness of life, and this suite of dances will surely make everyone smile.”
Many dances will be more thought provoking, and perhaps the most powerful is C.O.M.A. choreographed by San Francisco based dancer and choreographer, Christine Cali. Our dependence on cell phones is a key theme in this dance. As Cali talks about her work she poses many important questions. “Plugged into the technological state of being and unplugged from ourselves and each other, what happens next? How are we evolving as a species and does the word “evolve” seem pertinent as we distance ourselves from the human experience and move into a more artificial existence? How do we find meaning in relationships, human contact, and works of art doomed in the midst of this matrix-style life we are consciously and subconsciously participating in?
Another interesting series of pieces were choreographed by student choreographers and performers Michael Maltas, Macaela Stenback, and Brenda Lopez. All of these dances were inspired by paintings of well known artists such as Georgia O’Keefe and Edward Hopper. In a choreography class last spring, students were asked to place themselves into the painting of their choice, and to write a short story that related to their experience from and within the painting. They were then asked to choreograph movements that coincided with their written stories. These movements became the basis of their dances. Saxon West exclaims “I’m very excited about these student works! We will project photographs of the paintings behind the dances as they are performed along with brief words by the performers, about their dances.” Brenda Lopez, wearing a t-shirt that says “Dance is My Freedom!” and whose dance is titled Self Discovery, says “Creating this dance challenged me to create movement that represented what I was experiencing in my life during that time; working in the family business, going to school full time, and dancing. I was being pushed and pulled in so many directions….it was a very trying time for me. At the end of the dance my heart will be left on the stage!”
Mendocino Ballet, under the direction of Trudy McCreanor, will appear as guests and will perform Half Your Angels. The song was written by David Crosby and Graham Nash after the Oklahoma City bombing and was released again after 9-1-1. McCreanor was inspired to choreograph the piece after the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Dances about food, picnics, relationships, technology, extinction, self discovery, memories, Japanese folk tales, and more; truly, a rich feast for ones senses!
Tickets for Food for Thought are $10 general and $8 for seniors, children 12 and under and ASMC cardholders and may be purchased in advance at the Mendocino Book Company on School St. in Ukiah, the Mendocino College Bookstore on the Ukiah campus, or by calling 707-468-3079.