Global Motion tours the world onstage
Tahitian dancers moving in ecstasy and Aztecs summoning a serpent god appeared on Friday night at Santa Monica College’s Broad Stage.
With their show “Dance in American Culture,” SMC’s world dance company Global Motion presented an epic celebration of diverse forms of dance from east to west, and formal to tribal. For audience members, it was a global tour and an artistic experiment.
There was no grouping of the dances; one culture flowed into another. It was as if, for this brief evening, national borders became extinct and language barriers were replaced by the movement of bodies.
The show began with a “Dance of Invocation,” also called “The Blossoming,” choreographed by guest choreographer Viji Prakash. This was a dance from the millenniums-old southern areas of India. In traditional Indian garb, the dancers began what would prove to be an astounding, memorable program.
The Middle East was celebrated with a fusion of tribal and belly dances, choreographed by faculty member Jennifer Jesswein, to the sensuous and dark rhythm of Beats Antique’s “Egyptic.”
Mestizo Mexican culture was represented by two dances, “Las Alazanas,” a traditional folkloric Mexican dance with girls in Mexican cowgirl costumes dancing with men in charro suits, and “Jarabe Nayarit,” which featured girls in colorful dresses accompanied by male dancers who stunned the audience with a performance in which they clanked machetes in perfect, but dangerous, synchronization.
Music from the United States took shape with the energetic, fun numbers “Decisions, Decisions,” choreographed by students Martika Yuille and Timothy Nunez, and “Who I See,” choreographed by student Jerry Morales.
The show slowed down for “Dream a Little Dream,” set to the song of the same title by the Mamas and the Papas. Female dancers in nightgowns swayed and danced to the song’s romantic melody.
Havana also came to life onstage with “Mad about a Mambo,” choreographed by instructor Laura Canellias. This performance was a homage to Cuban salsa during which the dancers in their glittery skirts moved in a shadowy, slightly red-lit ambience, almost reminiscent of a seedy nightclub.
Three pieces brought audiences into contact with tribal dances from far-off places. “Makossa,” an exhilarating number choreographed by instructor Angela Jordan, consisted of a large African dance in which the dancers donned traditional, African garb and moved with great power.
“Ote’a,” choreographed by instructor Keali’i Ceballos, was another fever-pitch number in which dancers in grass skirts moved to a Polynesian rhythm driven by pounding drums.
The closing number for the night was a grand Aztec dance with the background lit like a fiery sunset. The dancers dressed in traditional costumes performed “Quetzalli,” designed by guest choreographer James Munoz. The dance was a “Danza Azteca,” which represents unity and eventually symbolizes the summoning of Quetzacoatl, the great serpent god of the old Aztec empire.
As the dancers went backstage, the show’s codirectors, Raquel Ramirez and Sri Susilowati, shared their thoughts on the program.
“Santa Monica is one of the few campuses that has such a variety of students that come from all over the world,” Ramirez said. “Even if they are far away from their country, they can see some of their culture represented here.”
With these dances, Susilowati said they tried to help students “be open-minded and open to new ideas.”
“The audience was able to gather an idea of the different styles that were offered, that this world has to offer,” said Global Motion dancer Yessenia Munoz.