By Erin Harrington

What do you get when you mix dancers on dollies, dancing dolls and orgasms?

You get UC Santa Cruz’s dance recital, “Random with a Purpose,” of course. This year’s dance recital spanned many genres. In fact, some performances weren’t even modeled after the traditional definition of “dance.”

The most controversial piece appeared to be “Enter the Artist,” choreographed by Jorge Rodolfo De Hoyos, Jr. The dance starts with an assembly of almost-naked women moving to form the shape of a vagina at the command of a male artist’s clap. At first glance, the performance appears to simply be about a man that can instantly give a woman an orgasm with the clap of his hand. Although the concept sounds like fun, De Hoyos explains that the dance goes much deeper than that.

“There were three things that inspired [the piece]. The first one was a film by Pedro Almodovar, Hable con Ella (Talk to Her). Also, there’s a picture called “Voluptate Mors,” an [artwork] collaboration by Salvador Dali and Philippe Halsman.” Fellini’s 8 1/2 was also credited as an inspiration.

De Hoyos explained that, to him, the pieces were symbolic of “the male [exploring] the landscape of the female body, the male artist and the woman as medium or muse for his art, and the surreal scene of… rebelling women and the male figure whipping them into place.”

De Hoyos adequately combines all of these themes into the piece through movement that is, at times, so creative it can be indescribable through mere words.

“The piece also addresses the ‘male gaze,’” De Hoyos explained. “Some feedback that I have gotten, especially from men, is that they express a certain feeling of tension when they see the women. They want to look at the women, but at the same time they feel bad because they know they shouldn’t—the women are being objectified and used by this man on stage.”

This performance could easily be mistaken as a misogynistic, sexist and amusing game depicted through movement. Alternately, the dance could be interpreted as a critical illustration of exploitation and fetishism of the female body.

One performance that cohesively fused the use of body movement as emotion and aesthetics was a piece by UCSC third-year Hansel Palarca called “Reanimation.”

Palarca explained that his purpose for creating the piece was inspired by the fact that he identifies as gay.

“After coming out, a gay person is disassociated from society,” Palarca said. “People assume that they know everything about you and begin to create stereotypes. In a sense, then, you try to fulfill these stereotypes and are forced to conform.”

During the dance, a group of “dolls” forces a young girl to look and move just like them—hence the theme of conformity. The dancing was wonderfully varied and dynamic with bursts of syncopated movement aligned with the music. This performance went beyond a show of dancing dolls on string.

Another dance, “Skin, is My,” used balloons were a central. More than just floating, helium bubbles of happiness, these balloons were utilized by the dancers in various creative ways. The performance appeared to be an experiment with objects and spatial relations, with graceful ballet movements thrown into the mix as well.

UCSC fourth-year and ballet dancer Kim McCollister stated that there was a specific theme associated with the use of the balloons.

“The dance is about the duality of love,” McCollister said. “Love is oftentimes a battle and the balloons are supposed to represent this battle. [For the balloons and dancers] there is a battle between love and gravity.”

“Weeeee” seemed to be a real crowd pleaser. This performance took a nostalgic look at the “joys of childhood.” The theme was easily relatable to a general audience. After all, we have all been kids. Or perhaps it was simply the mesmerizing effect of dancers zooming across the stage on dollies that made the performance entertaining.

Aside from problematic thematic elements of certain dances (e.g. the lack of any apparent message and/or evocation of emotions) and ineffective choices for transition and organization in certain pieces, the show was aesthetically enjoyable. Considering the fact that the show is free to UCSC students, visiting the second stage in the Theatre Arts Department this weekend could prove to be an entertaining expedition.

“Random with a Purpose” will be shown on the Second Stage of the Theater Arts Center. Performance times are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16, Saturday, Feb. 17, and Sunday, Feb. 18.