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Author: Jill Kimball

Dance students and faculty join forces for “The Current”

Each year, University of Colorado Boulder dance students and faculty come together for “The Current,” an annual showcase of brand-new pieces. This year’s performances take place April 15-17 and feature evocative, original work by dance professors Erika Randall and Donna Mejia, lecturer Larry Southall, alumna Megan Odom and Roser Guest Artist Faye Driscoll.

“Every year at this show, I fall in love with our department all over again,” says Mejia, an assistant professor in dance. “I’m in awe of the artists here, and I’m unbelievably honored to be part of this crew. The work of my colleagues brings me to tears.”

Mejia, a self-described transnational fusion artist, has choreographed two works on the program: a longing solo exploring the theme of human intimacy, which draws on moves from Northern Africa and hip hop communities, and an ensemble work called “The Amplified Field,” an uptempo, highly athletic exploration of what it’s like to negotiate overlapping identities in the digital age.

“I’ve got blue eyes, African features and dreadlocks,” Mejia says. “My multi-ethnic physical appearance is definitely provoking and disruptive in social situations, and people frequently approach me asking ‘What are you?’ But in truth we all manage overlapping identities, to some extent. Maybe we’re mothers and also professionals. I happen to broadcast my overlapping identities in a very obvious way, but I observe everyone to be negotiating these cultural collisions within themselves.”

Randall, the dance division’s director, also choreographed two pieces in “The Current:” a driving, bombastic seven-person work inspired by composer David Lang’s piece “cheating, lying, stealing,” and an ensemble piece called “There I Still Hear,” created in memory of a close friend Randall lost recently.

“The whole piece is about what’s carried inside someone’s last breath,” Randall says. “It weaves together memory and nostalgia, and the dancers are meant to represent children who died from scarlet fever in the Victorian era.”

She’ll also perform a solo piece alumna Megan Odom was inspired to create after she’d read a draft of Randall’s novel, “The Secrets of the Dashboard Hula Dancer.” In the novel’s last chapter, a plastic hula dancer comes to life and finds out what happens when, instead of looking out the rear window, she turns around and glimpses the future.

This year’s Roser Guest Artist, Faye Driscoll, says she looks forward to visiting Boulder for the first time and collaborating with dance students on a whole new piece.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the students to use creative agency and work together to make something,” Driscoll says. “That’s what most of my pieces are about, too … the very fact that we’re interdependent and interconnected. Being able to connect with each other in person and in real time … that just doesn’t happen much these days.”

“The Current” showcases more than just physical talent. During the performance, audiences can feast their eyes on beautiful Victorian silhouettes created by CU-Boulder costume designer Markas Henry, music arranged by Daniel Beahm and light design by Jim Doyle, a CU-Boulder alumnus who lit up the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas, the Lincoln Center fountain in New York and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video.

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