Chico Dance Theatre
Funny. Exciting. Introspective.
A tour through a broad range of emotions—plus a battle between good and evil—is promised when The American Experience, as the sixth-annual Chico Dance Theatre Showcase is titled, takes the stage at the Harlen Adams Theater next week.
The theme for this year’s showcase allows for the exploration of the many angles and sides of American dance, including ballet, tap and jazz. It has inspired a multifaceted repertoire of choreographic works, including the historical explorations of hip-hop and ballroom, an emotional and thought-provoking piece on World War II incorporating modern dance and mine, and a creative blend of country-western and ballet.
Coincidentally, the “American experience” theme was selected long before the events of the last few months unfolded. Chico Dance Theatre Publicist Sue Olson is somewhat concerned that it will be perceived that the group is trying to capitalize on the recent wave of patriotism but hopes that audience members will nevertheless find the experience cathartic.
“It’s important to celebrate who we are as Americans, and we can contribute to that,” she explained. “The arts help us understand who we are as a people.”
Chico Dance Theatre (CDT) is a student-run organization begun in 1995 to give members of the Chico community and Chico State students an outlet for dance. CDT focuses on providing dancers with an environment in which they can study dance techniques, create and explore a variety of choreographic styles and participate in dance productions.
As Olson sees it, “Dance is building and getting stronger” in the Chico community and at Chico State. Since its inception, CDT has grown continuously and currently has over 100 members, including student and community dancers, choreographers, and lighting and sound technicians. Some of the community members who are part of CDT are Chico State graduates who opted to remain in this area because of the strong artistic community found here.
Performing in the showcase will be more than 65 talented dancers chosen from more than 80 people who auditioned for Chico Dance Theatre earlier this fall. The large size of the CDT company helps the group’s directors and choreographers deliver a top-quality production.
Olson says the showcase promises “something for everyone.” The opening number, a showstopper from the musical A Chorus Line, will allow the audience to connect with the cast and offers an insight into what it takes to mount a production of this nature.
“Tappin',” an a cappella piece done in the spirit of the Broadway smash Stomp, will offer nothing but the sound of the dancers’ taps as they explore a multitude of African-American rhythms using ladders, stools and chairs as props.
The conflict between good and evil plays out in “Den of Inequity,” a classical ballet in the style of George Balanchine. Smoke and fire will set the stage for a dramatic battle between elaborately costumed angels and the devil.
Recently refurbished, the Harlen Adams Theater offers CDT choreographers several new technical and special-effects opportunities. Among the most exciting is the new orchestra pit stage, which can be raised or lowered.
The American Experience, presented by the CSU, Chico School of the Arts and the Department of Theatre Arts, takes the stage on Fri., Nov. 30, and Sat., Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 2, at 2 p.m. Advance tickets are $10 general, $7 seniors and $6 students and are available at the University Box Office and additional ticket outlets in Chico and Paradise.