‘Night of Resident Artists’ features a wide variety of performances

El Camino’s dance performers showcased their number called Rise at the Night of Resident Artists that included a variety of dance acts including tap dancing and theatre. These performances were showcased at the Marsee auditorium on Saturday night. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

The performers sprinted into the center of the stage, their arms cradling what appeared to be dozens of shoes apiece.

Each participant scattered the shoes in every direction until the floor was littered with shoes of all types from boots to sneakers to high heels.

What happened next was something the entire audience saw coming.

The group of fully grown adults broke out into a game of “Simon Says.”

This was just part of one of the eclectic array of performances showcased at El Camino College’s “Night of Resident Artists” on Saturday at Marsee Auditorium. The event was part of the ECC Center for the Arts’ 2014-15 Resident Artist Series.

The show featured performances choreographed and danced by EC professors Michelle Funderburk, Hiroshi Hamanishi, Jamie Carbetta Hammond and Jennifer La Curan. The master of ceremonies was EC professor Daniel Berney.

Hamanishi’s pieces featured tap dancing, modern and more traditional music. His works included dances to music ranging from Foo Fighters’ rock anthem “Everlong” and Flobots’ hip-hop hit “Handlebars” to the ’30s hits “Tuxedo Junction” and “Fine and Dandy.”

Hamanishi and dancer AJ Moore performed a synchronized tap tribute to the late tap dancer Bob Carroll, who passed away last year. Following the performance both Hamanishi and Moore pointed skyward in remembrance of Carroll.

La Curan also showcased her versatility by performing her eerie dance “Shadows From Within” as well as her more whimsical pieces “Thoroughfare” and “Le Train Bleu.”

“Shadows From Within” featured La Curan as a woman dancing with her shadow, portrayed by Samantha DeBritton Hernandez.

The creation of the piece “was probably about a year and a half process in the studio before it actually was ever performed,” La Curan said regarding the process of creating the work.

The dark and chilling feeling given off by La Curan’s first performance was in sharp contrast with the aforementioned improvisational piece “Thoroughfare,” which featured shoes as props and a game of “Simon Says,” and her comedic ballet “Le Train Bleu.”

In regards to the improvisational nature of “Thoroughfare,” La Curan stated that “there’s structure behind it all and it’s all planned but the actual movements and what happens inside that structure is by chance.”

Two of the most powerful performances were choreographed by Funderburk. The dance to a musical rendition of Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise,” which Funderburk titled “Rise,” alternated grace with strength in the movements of dancers.

Funderburk also choreographed a four-part piece titled “Grounded.” The juxtaposition of African tribal music, orchestral instruments, rock music and synthetic sounds along with the subtle changing of the background added complexity to the storyline.

The most elaborate performance of the night was the final act, “Edge,” presented by Hammond. The power ballet told the story of a woman struggling with indecision on who to love as well as the struggle between multiple men to be the one for her.

The variety in the pieces presented at the “Night of Resident Artists” helped everyone involved work towards their goal of entertaining and enriching.

“The goal is really to give the audience an experience of a lot of different diverse styles of dance to show them that each of the resident choreographers comes from a different background, training and aesthetic,” Berney said.

The concert left a big impression on some students.

“I really don’t go to these types of concerts but it was really amazing to see them perform,” Ingrid Camales, 20, biology major, said, “There were a few pieces that almost made me cry.”

While some students enjoyed the concert, others left confused about the meanings of the works.

“For me, I just cannot understand some (of the) dance pieces,” Snow Park, 23, psychology major, admitted.