Tango dancers, belly dancers, B-boys and B-girls, cheerleaders, and even children shared the stage at City College’s “Making It,” a collection of nearly two dozen dance pieces.
On the night of Saturday, April 28, the Wellness Center’s third-floor performance theatre held a small audience overshadowed by a cast of 85 dancers, representing a diversity of ethnicity, sexuality, and dance styles.
“Dancing will break the barriers of diversity,” Kristin Williams, City College dance instructor and choreographer for Strong Pulse, a dance collective of City College students.
Forty of the night’s performers were City College students, some of whom have received dance scholarships or have started their own dance groups and companies.
Leah Ferrer, a former member of Williams’ female-exclusive dance group, Strong Current, performed with the Bay Area Flash Mob. They presented their “Janet Medley,” a collection of dances inspired by Janet Jackson music videos, which earned them 20 tickets to Jackson’s performance in Oakland last year.
Duniya Dance and Drum Company contributed ethnic styles to the mix, with Bollywood-style and African dances influenced by hip-hop. Their performances were emblematic of how intertwined dissonant dance genres are in contemporary dance.
Rihanna, Drake, and Beyoncé songs dominated the eclectic ensemble of tracks, which even included a Johann Sebastian Bach piece.
Skorpio, a multi-disciplinary dancer choreographed by City College instructor Christy Funsch, performed “The Optimist.” At once Skorpio’s hands are frantically waving in front of his face and then he made baseball-batting gestures, then break danced on the floor. What could be seen as a clash between movement and music is seen as otherwise by Funsch.
“Skorpio is very movement-specific, and so is Bach’s music,” Funsch said, noting the similarities between their detail-driven performance.
Other dances were more story-driven.
Kristin Rooney and Denaya Dailey’s performance to music by folk artist Iron & Wine conveyed two women at odds with each other, lifting each other and eventually dancing parallel to each other. Their movement was story-like, engaging the audience at their alternate falls, and invoking curiosity at their dance style that incorporates lying on their back as though sleeping, but sliding up and down the stage.
Tango dancer Patricia Gaunt’s butt was rubbed by John Gaunt in their tango piece, “Mr. and Ms. Smith.” John’s blocky movements made for an ungraceful companion to the exceptionally graceful Patricia, who paid close attention to her footwork in ballerina flats.
Syde Prajekt’s three male dancers showed their sass as they shamelessly lifted their shirts and licked their lips before ending on the lyric, “Don’t call me baby.”
Williams, who danced in most of her choreographies, was seen in tiny red shorts, a black bra under a loosely-knitted cropped top, and transparent-heeled two-inch platforms, dancing to the lyrics, “You can just spank me.”
A focal point during Strong Pulse’s performances were difficult to discern, as the large dance crew looked more like a dance party during the pop song “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO.
Performer Gino Thomas’ attitude made for a dominating effect during most performances, particularly during “Making It,” in which he and the other male performers
wore suits while engaging in a battle-like dance, employing a table upon which they danced.
His arm flinging during his solo was like that of an ambidextrous baseball pitcher, and he at one point was lifted by his female partner, defying conventional gender roles in dance.
“Sex doesn’t matter — you can lift anyone if you have the strength,” Thomas said.