"Legends" at the Broad

Last year's dance exhibition, presented by Folklórico de SMC, reestablished Santa Monica College's performance arts department as an immensely talented troupe.

Taking this propensity for panache and incorporating the cultural diversity of the entire student body justifies the troupe's decision to change its name to the Global Motion World Dance Company. However, the changes to this flourishing organization are more than just semantic.

This past weekend, May 15 and 16, Global Motion's "Legends" provided a sensational tour of dance styles from cultures around the world. The show, held at the Broad Stage, integrated the ethnic garments and the deeply rooted heritage of the cultures represented to provide much more than a dance show. Each traditional, culturally significant dance presented an invigorating glimpse into the heritages that comprise our student body.

The show consisted of sixteen individual dances, each remarkably different than the next. The Egyptian belly dance, for example, was followed by contemporary French ballet, which preceded a vibrant Spanish tango.

The cultural significance that each dance had on its respective heritage was explained in the programs, and this level of comprehensive education made for an enlightening experience, as well as an entertaining one.

"You can't just isolate the dance outside of the culture," said SMC Artistic Director Judith Douglas. Douglas advocated cultural immersion, learning as much as possible about the cultures of the world for an all-encompassing comprehension of diversity.

"Each of the 65 dancers in "Legends" was required to choose two dances. They had to learn about the people, the culture, the history of each. They learned everything about the cultures through dance." She added, "We'd like to see all SMC students become global citizens, and dance is a great way of doing that."

But "Legends" was more than an exercise in versatility. The dancing was performed with such enthusiastic finesse that most audience attendees were left astounded. The Hawaiian hula dance featured the lithe, swaying torsos and fluid arm movements native to the tiny islands. The masculine gestures and combative dancing of the Mongolian "Dances with Wolves" contrasted in both tone and style.

With only an empty stage and no sets to distract from their movements, Global Motion executed the choreography of traditional dances from around the world with the kind of exacting precision usually reserved for paid professionals.

According to Douglas, this high level of enthusiasm owes much of its existence to the opportunity of performing at the Broad Stage.

"This is our third performance at the Broad Stage and it's been a fantastic opportunity for the class," Douglas said. "There are over sixty students in this class, and many are training for professional careers. Previously, we were using the SMC Culture Hall – which has no wings, no dressing room – it just wasn't a real theater experience. The Broad Stage presents a legitimate, professional experience to perform at a professional level – an experience aspiring students desperately need."

While the elaborate costuming and ethnically diverse music brought cultures from around the world into the Broad Stage, the sheer vivacity of the performers enraptured the audience, whisking them far from Santa Monica, on a worldwide excursion of global motion.