Random with a Purpose XXIII dancers perform Masha Bluestein’s piece “A Negotiation with Disaster." Courtesy of Steve DiBartolomeo.
Random with a Purpose XXIII dancers perform Masha Bluestein’s piece “A Negotiation with Disaster.” Courtesy of Steve DiBartolomeo.

Standing simultaneously, dancers allured the sold out crowd at the Theater Arts Center’s Second Stage as darkness filled the room during the opening act of Random with a Purpose XXIII.

The audience was treated to a series of dance moves that created visual illusions as performers spurred spectators’ interest to begin the show. The opening act introduced the fusion of dance styles performed throughout the night, which included modern, contemporary, ballet and hip-hop.

For fourth-year students Alex Law, Rachel Peterson and Brooke Smith, the journey to directing and participating in the show began in their childhoods as dancers. Performing on the small stages of their respective hometowns, the trio never imagined they would dance their way to one of UC Santa Cruz’s grandest stages — let alone direct a show on such a stage. For the show’s 23rd anniversary, the UCSC arts community was united by the theme “crossing over,” representing the combination of styles from the visual arts and music departments.

“We really wanted to integrate all the departments here at UCSC. Crossing over was our way of doing just that,” Law said. “We really wanted to get people more involved with dance and understand how important it is to our school. As an art form, it really brings the community together.”

The performers accomplished just that as the audience cheered in elation after each group performance. No act was the same. Each performance included different theatrical features, such as an alternation in light tone. Different genres of music also marked the change in the atmosphere as they set the mood.

To ensure a successful night, preparations were made long before performers took the stage. The directors had about five weeks to assemble the show, but the dancers prepared for several months. The relatively short time frame presented a difficult challenge for first-time directors.

“Learning all of the aspects that come with producing a show, like meeting people’s needs, can be hard at times,” Smith said. “People expect immediate answers, but there is a process that comes with it and it takes time. Doing all this in five weeks — things can get pretty stressful.”

Moments before taking the stage, the group reflected on the culmination of hard work, sweat and timeless hours spent in rehearsal, which called for a brief celebration of the cast’s devotion. For the directors, the show carries a more significant meaning than just one dance.

“It’s being a bigger part of the community. We may dance as individuals, but when we’re up there, it feels like we’re all dancing as one,” Smith said. “Being in rhythm with each other, it’s a nice connection to feel. It’s really cool to see how different students can work together to create new meaning and learn from each other to present something new.”

Random with a Purpose XXIII will run Feb. 19-22 at the Theater Arts Center’s Second Stage. General admission tickets are $11 and $10 with a student ID. The show is $10 for seniors over the age of 62.