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Disappearing Act: Cabrillo dancers perform 'Pretty Vacancies' at this weekend's winter concert.

Dance Dance Revolution

The Cabrillo Winter Dance Concert offers a program that's by turns political, ethereal and theatrical.

By Denise Vivar

If you've never seen the Cabrillo College Winter Dance Concert, perhaps you've just moved into town, or maybe you've been trapped or incarcerated. But luckily for you, the fact that you are now reading this means there is a distinct possibility that this is your year to catch this popular annual event.Cabrillo's dance department presents works that showcase the choreographic prowess of faculty, student, community and guest choreographers, and pretty much anyone who has ever busted a move onstage in Santa Cruz has performed in this revue or knows someone who has. Even Kevin Bacon knows someone who knows someone who has been in this show.

Among the featured choreographers in this year's lineup are Amy Farhood and Cid Pearlman (co-directors of the concert), Leslie Johnson, Yasmina Porter-Honicky, Sharon Took-Zozoya, Beverly Torre, Marissa Valera, Lambert Van Buuren, Rachel Van Dessel and faculty newcomer Christy Funsch.Funsch, who five years ago founded her own dance company, the Funsch Dance Experience, makes her mark this year with Pretty Vacancies, which examines the information left out of the media's coverage of the war in Iraq. Describing the nascence of the piece, Funsch remarks that in the process of getting to know her students, she found that war was "conspicuously absent from their discussions." She decided to bring a certain mindfulness to their experience. "Many of my students were born during a time which has seen an almost constant state of war, and there's a certain acceptance in that," Funsch muses. "Pretty may even be taken in the Hemingway sense of the word," she adds, alluding to the bliss of ignorance.

That very disengagement is the subject of the Sex Pistols' song "Pretty Vacant," a scathing commentary about apathy during the Thatcher regime, and the origin of the title for Funsch's piece. Yet the music accompanying this performance is the Terzetto Concerto no. 74 by Dvorak, which Funsch describes as "immediate, sweet, intimate and romantic," and in this sense, she says, the "pretty" here is a simple reference to the melody and "vacant" a reference to the concerto's conspicuously missing cello part.

"Initially, it was difficult for the students to [relate to] the material, but now they have really embraced it," Funsch says, reasoning that perhaps the lushness and romance of the music allows the students to tap into and express their sadness around the issue of the war experience. She describes her role in the development of the piece as more directorial, and that the specific movements have been born out of the students' own vocabulary, an expression of their interpretation of the theme.

Among the other powerhouses of creativity in this presentation is Amy Farhood and her dance Flourish, which explores the sensuous moves in Latin, salsa and flamenco rhythms and the social basis and dynamics of partner dancing through the individual expressions of the dancers.

Farhood's co-director, Cid Pearlman, also premieres her piece, The Camper Van Dances, a post-punk folk dance—a truly inspired work from the woman who has collaborated with members of Camper Van Beethoven for more than a decade. Her inspiration is drawn from the movement style of Hollywood choreographer Busby Berkeley and the postmodern dance maverick Trisha Brown.

Another innovator in the dance community is Sharon Took-Zozoya, who will present Elemental Moves: Air, Water, Fire, Earth, a piece showcasing the talents of her adaptive dance class students, a perennial audience favorite.

Took-Zozoya is also presenting her Threshold Dreams, performed by the students in her repertory class. Threshold Dreams explores issues of crossing thresholds and inhabiting spaces around and between one another alongside an improvisational musical accompaniment.

This is but a sampling of the range of visionary works being showcased this year, and while everyone dances to the beat of his or her own heart, "in the absence of words," says Took-Zozoya, "dance can become a perfect equalizer."

THE CABRILLO COLLEGE WINTER DANCE CONCERT is performed Dec. 7-8 at 8pm and Dec. 9 at 3pm at the Cabrillo College Theater, 6500 Soquel Dr., Aptos. Tickets are $8-$12; available at 831.479.6331 or at the door.

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