A visual of an eye blinking is displayed on the back of the stage while a dancer sits at a table and slowly flips a small wooden toy chair back and forth with her finger at 7:20 p.m., 10 minutes before the Pacific Dance Ensembles annual Autumn Choreographers show begins.
As people slowly begin to trickle into Tom Miles Theater, filling the entire theater, the sound effects of chairs scooting grows louder and then the first scene begins.
This fall, artistic director James Healey decided to do something a little bit different.
Through this show’s theme, disarrangement, he decided to create a dance that left the audience with a feeling or sensation rather than a story.
“I can say the overall idea stems from the fact that most of us are hardly ever not seen in today’s environments; privacy is not so accessible anymore; we are never really alone,” Healey said. “Also, I have been in a career where I am always on the move or on tour, so my sense of ‘home’ is complex. I think that the image of the eye and the movement of the chairs throughout the piece, represent these two feelings.”
The show’s idea originally stemmed from a project he worked on with high school students in North Carolina in 2013.
“The point was never to make a cool dance or a perfect final product, but to give students room to think creatively within a performance,” Healey said. “I decided to do that here at Pacific. One reason was because I knew it was already successful once, so I wanted to recreate that success with a different group of students. Also, I like to work with complex ideas that may or may not always work; to give myself a puzzle to solve and see what happens.”
And the show that took place on Nov. 19, 20 and 21 was a success.
Junior Taylor Baker, who choreographed a piece about disconnected relationships, says her duet went well as she received a lot of positive feedback from the audience and peers. Overall, she feels the show ran very smoothly thanks to Healey and the dancers.
“The disarrangement theme was probably one of my favorite pieces I’ve done with ensemble so far,” Baker
said. “James really pushed us to move in different ways. To me, the theme was that we were all trying to find our homes but couldn’t because there was no organization in the beginning. As the show progressed, these pieces became more cohesive and eventually became everyone moving together rather than all moving on their own.”