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‘Immerse’ yourself in contemporary dance with Orchesis

Cal Poly’s own Orchesis Dance Company is back with its 42nd anniversary concert, “Immersion,” at the Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre. With dances inspired by relationships, religion, society and an experience in a mental institution, this performance will be one to remember.

Orchesis director Diane Stanton said “Immersion” is different every year, with new choreography by faculty, guests and students. Last year’s students selected the title “Immersion” to represent the overall ideas of the dancers and choreographers.

Biological sciences senior Misty Moyle has danced and choreographed for Orchesis for two years. She choreographed pieces in the student spring dance show and for the company last year.

“For me, choreography is very therapeutic and is a way to engage in art and activism creatively,” Moyle said.

She said her dance this year — “I Corinthians 13:4-13” — came to her in a vision while listening to “White Blank Page,” by Mumford and Sons.

“I literally got a vision of the movement, the costumes, the lighting and the meaning of the dance all at once,” Moyle said. “After that moment, I knew what I wanted the piece to be about.”

She spent the next few months working on the concept and shaping that vision before she auditioned to be a student choreographer in September. Moyle said the dance explores love, religion, society and equality.

“I liked (Moyle’s) style from the beginning,” theatre freshman Alexis Arens said. “She focused on technique and style, and I decided to do this piece because (I) am not afraid to support the gay community.”

No nerves or stage fright come to Arens when she hits the stage. She said she feels the energy from the crowd watching her dance, and that feeling is the reward to her hard work.

Others Orchesis members, such as kinesiology junior Kelsey Latourette, feed off of the rehearsal process leading up to the big show. Latourette said the rehearsals provide a lot of interesting experiences, and moments that remind her why she chose to dance.

“We’ve had a lot of moments of being delusional, screaming and yelling for each other during conditioning competitions, falling or running into each other and just being silly,” Latourette said.

Latourette told a story of when guest choreographer Holly Johnston spoke about dance to a small group of dancers at the end of a weekend of rehearsals. Latourette said she spoke in “incredible words” about the meaning of dance to the dancers and how fortunate everyone is to have it in their lives. It is moments like that that speak to her the most.

“It made me really think about how much of an impact all of my experiences from dance have had on me and how different of a person I’d be without them,” Latourette said.

“Immersion” isn’t a fully female affair, though. Take computer science senior and Immersion choreographer Ryan Badilla for example.

Even though Badilla is a seasoned dancer, this is his first year working with Orchesis. Badilla, who started off as a B-boy (or break dancer) in a crew called Outlaw Star Bay Area, and is a B-boy in the Cal Poly Chapter of Hip Hop Congress, choreographed his own piece called “Coexistence,” which he described as a “modern/abstract-breakdance fusion piece about the visual hallucinations of schizophrenia.”

His piece was inspired by a college-aged girl he saw while visiting his mother at the mental hospital where she works.

“At one point, (she) ran through multiple rooms screaming for help while violently throwing fists, kicking chairs and slamming doors,” Badilla said. “When the clinicians tried to contain her, she begged them to get rid of the monsters and demons.”

The hip-hop inspired B-boy styles that Badilla’s piece bring to Immersion will be offset by the variety of movements jazz dance has to offer, according to business administration junior Danielle Dahlerbruch, who has been dancing for Orchesis for three years and choreographing for two.

Dahlerbruch said she enjoys jazz because of the variety of movement it offers, and her piece was inspired by some events with friendships in her life.  These events caused her to look at different types of connections, from long-time relationships to acquaintances, in her life and all around her.  Dahlerbruch said these connections impact our lives and the paths we chose to take.

“I wanted to take this timeless theme of connection between people while allowing the dancers to add a bit of their own lives into the performance of the piece,” Dahlerbruch said.

Guest choreographers include Seattle choreographer Markeith Wiley, director of Southern California’s Bare Dance Company Mike Esperanza and director of Ledges and Bones Dance Company, based in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, Johntson. Local and faculty choreographers include Stanton, Michelle Walter and Lisa Deyo.

Cal Poly’s Theatre and Dance Department, the College of Liberal Arts and the Instructionally Related Activities program sponsor Orchesis. Orchesis, Cal Poly’s oldest concert dance organization, was founded in 1969 by Moon Ja Minn Suhr.

Tickets for the show are $13 for general admission and $10 for students. The show runs Jan. 27 to Feb. 4.