Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stephen Petronio Dance Company

Stephen Petronio’s fifth time at UCSB culminated in a night of provocative narrative and impressive physicality set to the backdrop of the powerful and prodigious music of Nick Cave. Underland, a production that Petronio choreographed in eight weeks in the heart of Sydney, Australia, looks at the cyclical and subconscious emotionality of Cave’s work through the physical manifestation of the body as the site onto which “the dark beauty of his music, its rawness, pain and redemption” saturate the dancers’ movements with pronounced mastery and passion. The pieces illuminated Cave’s predilection towards the battle of lightness and darkness and his unique articulation of communal struggle and salvation. In the Q&A after the performance, Petronio noted how blessed he was to work with so many dedicated performers and collaborators in a creative space where, after twenty five years in the business, he could finally have the confidence to illustrate Cave’s lyrics through textured flashes that slide back and forth between abstraction and explicit illustration. With industrial overtones and muscular grace, the Stephen Petronio Dance Company moved the audience with their sultry agility and blurring movements in pieces that aptly depicted Cave’s focus on the journey of both the submission and exaltation of the human soul.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Creole Choir of Cuba

On Wednesday night, the Creole Choir of Cuba, comprised of ten members from Camagüey, Cuba, arrived in Campbell Hall to a crowd eager to hear their internationally renowned traditional Creole songs. Creole, the fusion of multiple languages over the course of centuries of slavery and cross-cultural interactions, represents the hybridity of Cuban culture through beautiful and soulful vocal recitation. On a sparse stage with a small percussion section, the choir evoked a markedly powerful response through their passionate harmonies and nuanced choral configurations. Energetic and lively, the song selection spanned the cultural history of Cuba from the Haitian slave trade to contemporary neo-liberalism, illuminating the textured history of Creole culture. The themes freedom, family, and hope rang true through their intimate stories of resistance and identity. With music as the hub of expression and cultural preservation, the simplicity of the performance juxtaposed to their dynamic vocal exaltations made for an evening rich in rhythm and radiance.