Global Motion moves to cross cultures

As Armenian music and contemporary pop intertwine and tumble through the halls, the Kinesiology building is far from peaceful. In two separate rooms, Global Motion dancers are preparing for their performance that’s less than a week away. One of the dancers, Sophia Leung, sits on the side of the room with her ankle in a brace.

Keenly, she looks on as her troupe-mates practice.

Following this year’s Global Citizenship theme of “Health, Wellness, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” the Santa Monica College world dance company, Global Motion, will be performing “The Pursuit of Happiness” at the Broad Stage on Oct. 27 and 28. The company’s oeuvre is an amalgamation of various dance styles representing many world cultures.

“When we teach Global Motion, we are teaching dances in a cultural art form. They are not skits or routines, but pieces and works of art,” said Judith Douglas, founder of Global Motion and Dance Department chair. ”We feel that the best way to learn about and appreciate a culture is to learn their dance. Everything from politics, to religion, geography, and the climate of a certain country affects the way that people dance.”

Under the artistic direction of Raquel Ramirez and Sri Susilowati, their dancers come together to learn and perform dance styles of the world. Leung herself emigrated to the United States from Hong Kong to seriously pursue dance.

Joshua Bergeron is a Synapse student choreographer who is working with Global Motion for this performance. “I am of Colombian, French Canadian, and Mexican descent,” said Bergeron. “I am also in the Armenian piece, which is also a joy because I am getting to learn a lot more about another culture.”

The choreographers are SMC students, faculty, and guests who are experts in the field. The performers are advanced-level dance students who have successfully auditioned and spent most of the semester rehearsing.

“This is my first time working with Global Motion because I am a classically trained ballet dancer,” Bergeron said. “I started doing Global Motion specifically because there was a ballet piece. I have done world dance before, but not on a great stage, so this is going to be a great experience for me.”

Not all of the dancers have been practicing for many years.

Biomedical engineering major Glenn Rodriguez has been dancing for only two years. Despite the initial resistance from his traditionally-minded father, Rodriguez chose to pursue dance after recreational lessons.

He saw the joy of being a male dancer, and so he practiced and learned until he finally auditioned for Global Motion earlier this semester. In reference to the program, Rodriguez said: “There is Cumbia, which is something like my dad dances at every single party. It was a good way to connect with my cultural background.”

“The piece is especially close to me because it is about the civil war that happened in El Salvador, and it’s something that happened to my parents,” said Rodriguez. “Just being in that moment, I think it’s something special.”

Global Motion will be performing “The Pursuit of Happiness" Thursday and Friday Oct. 27-28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Broad Stage with a 4 p.m. matinee performance on Friday.