Check it out
What: “Ligilo” and “Transmutation”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 21-23 and Feb. 28-March 2; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24 and March 3
Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center
Rating: R, for nudity and violence
Tickets: $17-$19 general, $12-$14 students, children and seniors
Info: tickets.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787
The UC Davis department of theater and dance will present two master’s of fine arts thesis choreographies — “Ligilo” and “Transmutation” — at the Mondavi Center’s Vanderhoef Studio Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 21, through Sunday, March 3.
“Ligilo” by Jarrell Iu-Hui Chua, in collaboration with Bobby August Jr., travels through the worlds of memories, dreams and present realities to investigate touch and its effects on relationships; “Transmutation” by Christine Germain, in collaboration with Andrea del Moral and Deirdre Morris, examines questions of personal identity and shifts in identity.
The title of Chua’s work means “link” in Esperanto, a language that represents the choreographer’s ethnic sensitivities. She and August are both “hapa,” a term that Chua lovingly uses to describe their half-Asian heritage. Their hapa experiences of prejudice growing up in America are a core element in the choreography as is personal trauma from which Chua is recovering.
Emanating from these painful themes, “Ligilo” portrays anger and violence as two performers, Chua and August, physically connect and disconnect. Most emphatically, the piece explores the positive dimensions of human touch in erotic love, humor, tenderness and other aspects of humanity and healing. The spiritual touch of bathing a loved one conveys hope and tranquility. This is both the heart of “Ligilo” and the basis of its foreign title, as Esperanto (literally meaning “one who hopes”) was intended to foster peace among people of differing cultures.
“Transmutation” also has an autobiographical base. The work draws from all three choreographers’ lives, including French-Canadian Germain’s various experiences as an alien living in the United States and other countries.
“Relocating a number of times, I found myself frustrated not speaking the language well, being misunderstood, and misunderstanding others,” Germain said. “Injuries also affected how I saw myself. I became sensitive to, and interested in, the shifting of identity occurring after trauma (both psychological and physical), which can be experienced in so many diverse ways.”
In “Transmutation,” three women — portrayed by Germain, del Moral and Morris — respond in different ways to identity changes including the learning or relearning of who they are and their relationships with others, space and the world. The work is largely formed by Germain’s study of Feldenkrais method — an experiential system providing tools for self-observation through movement inquiry used to improve habitual and repetitive physical patterns.
The audience is invited to participate in exercises along with the performers. This gives the viewer an opportunity to try on new perspectives, seeing and feeling elements of identity in fresh ways.