The 418 Project brought dancers from the Santa Cruz community together last weekend with the 4th annual Emerging Choreographers Showcase.
Hosted by The 418 Project, the showcase featured up-and-coming dancers and choreographers in the Santa Cruz area. Performers included dancer Ian Crowell, Cabrillo student Callie Daniel, and UCSC alumni Charley Fierro and Chelsea Moreno, who all displayed their talents through original modern dance choreography.
The 418 Project is a non-profit movement arts center located on Front Street that focuses on celebrating dance through bringing together dancers and choreographers in the local community. The showcase was held on Nov. 9 and 10 to celebrate the center’s nineteenth year.
RD Bolam, lead of the Artist Advisory Committee, said they look for less experienced choreographers for the showcase.
“We’re looking for something that strikes us as being either extremely competent or new in some kind of way,” Bolam said. “It’s really provided an opportunity for people to start building a portfolio.”
Crowell has practiced dance at Cabrillo College and at Motion at the Mill for the past four years. He did not start dancing until the age of 24 but said he believes the arts are important for youth as a way to express themselves.
“I had a rather interesting, rocky life that didn’t involve any arts at all. I think, had I been involved in some sort of art, my life would have gone differently,” Crowell said. “Youth should be able to express themselves in ways that are not purely scientific or mathematical but that are just arts. Art that comes from the heart. I think it’s important to maintain tradition and culture through that.”
Crowell’s choreographed performances often consisted of intensely slow and fluid movements, as well as crisp kicks and pirouettes. His first piece, “Improv Manteau,” was a solo that he chose to improvise at the moment of the performance in front of the audience.
“I could’ve done a solo in which I choreographed,” he said, “but it would’ve been constricted to the vocabulary that I was able to condense at the time that I was thinking of the choreography.”
Crowell wanted “Improv Manteau” to consist of the movements he could express the moment he was performing. His other pieces, which were performed by other dancers, were created on the spot in the dance studio.
“This year I would be able to display a more diverse array of movements and styles and techniques by improvising them instead of trying to consolidate into a structured choreography,” Crowell said.
Daniel, on the other hand, has been dancing since a young age and has continued to do so in college. She had the opportunity to express stories through the energetic and fresh movements displayed throughout her choreographed performances. Her piece “Goodbye,” a duet between her and Crowell, told the story of being in an emotional relationship lacking communication.
Daniel, whose favorite part of choreography is creating the movement, believes dance is important for self-expression.
“Everyone is a dancer. Everyone knows how to dance and everyone can dance. It’s a very expressive thing and we’re expressive beings,” Daniel said. “It’s really important to inspire everyone of all ages, sizes, types, to dance and just feel it because it’s a really beautiful feeling when you can really release that.”
The 418 Project holds numerous performances and classes and allows others to rent out their studio.
For more information go to http://the418.org.