To many people, the thought of attending a modern theater and dance performance is synonymous with watching paint dry, minus the intoxicating fumes. It is precisely those people that should attend this weekend’s world-premier of “”Phantom Bodies/Phantom Limbs.””
The show is the work of dancers/choreographers Jean Isaacs and Patricia Rincon, who are both on the faculty of the Department of Theater and Dance at UCSD. “”Phantom Bodies/Phantom Limbs”” will show this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Mandeville Auditorium.
“”This is going to be a great show,”” Rincon said. “”It is very rich and very strong with the different arts blended together. It is not to be missed.””
“”Phantom Bodies/Phantom Limbs”” combines the work of dancers, actors, musicians, directors, visual artists and designers to bring the audience on a thrilling journey through the concepts of dreams and death.
The show is divided into two sections. The first, “”Phantom Bodies,”” is the work of Rincon.
“”I got a lot of my inspiration from dreams and death,”” Rincon said. “”I researched death in many cultures and how it was dealt with. The Day of the Dead in Mexico was one thing that caught my eye, along with the treatment of death in the Irish culture. I was fascinated with the ceremonies and the rites of passage.””
Using multiple art forms, she takes the audience on a journey through life, death and dreams, and hints at just how thin the line is between each.
“”There is that feeling that people get where they are confused if they are in a dream or if it is real,”” Rincon said. “”There is a question of whether that line can be crossed.””
For those who are looking for something more than purely philosophical interpretation, Rincon’s piece is not without its comedic moments.
“”We also use some comedy in the piece,”” Rincon said. “”Life does have its funny moments. We do get more serious as the piece goes on, but it is poetic and not very heavy.””
Rincon’s portion of the show will feature dancers from the Patricia Rincon Dance Collective, including Carol Abney, Jessica Curiel, Deborah Lohse, Rommel Salveron, Shannon Snyder and Terry Wilson.
Isaacs’ portion of the show, “”Phantom Limbs,”” explores a different aspect of the phantom theme. “”Phantom Limbs”” is based on the premise that when a person loses a limb, he can still feel it there. As with “”Phantom Bodies,”” Isaacs’ piece deals with issues of death.
“”Phantom Limbs”” also uses a combination of actors and dancers to convey its message.
The dance used in this piece is very experimental, according to Cameron Thrash, a UCSD graduate and dancer with Isaacs’ San Diego Dance Theater dancers.
“”This is not at all a stereotypical dance performance,”” Thrash said. “”All of the movements were created by the choreographer and the dancer, working around the dancer’s experiences. Instead of the choreographer just telling us what to do, we are using our own experiences. It makes it very personal.””
With the evening taking on personal meaning for the performers, it has some of them filled with butterflies.
“”I’m anxious and apprehensive about this show because it’s definitely a piece of something that nobody really knows about,”” Thrash said. “”It’s going to be a huge show.””
Isaacs’ portion of the show will feature her San Diego Dance Theater dancers, including Thrash, Elizabeth Lee, Alison Dietterle, Veronica Martin, Faith Jensen-Ismay, Todd Bennett and James Ellzy.
The dancers interact with the actors and use a mix of dance, movement, music and the spoken word to communicate the evening’s thought-provoking theme.
Jim Winker, an actor in the performance as well as an instructor at the Department of Theater and Dance, is very fond of the idea of dancers working with the actors.
“”There are a lot of troupes out there that do nothing but dance,”” Winker said. “”This is a whole different way of working. It is really fascinating to explore the different kinds of communication. I would like to do more of this in the future. It is very interesting.””
Rincon is also supportive of the mix of theater and dance.
“”Dance is so wonderful in its nonverbal communication, but that only goes so far,”” Rincon said. “”The mix of speech goes further in communicating the overall theme. I have been working with actors and dancers for a while now and I absolutely want to continue working in this medium.””
In addition to the dancers, Winker and Charlie Oates are featured actors in the show. Steven Schick, a percussionist from UCSD, will also perform during the show. Les Waters appears in the show and is the director.
The sets for the show feature glass sculptures from Encinitas artist Joel Bloomberg and is designed by Dan Wiener of the La Jolla Playhouse. David Kesner works on the sound and mix production for the performance and Kathryn Gould is in charge of costume design.
As a supplement to “”Phantom Bodies/Phantom Limbs,”” there will be an art exhibit in Mandeville Auditorium featuring the work of Nathaniel Clark, a San Diego visual artist. Clark’s images, which portray dreams in other-worldly ways, provided additional inspiration to both Rincon and Isaacs. The art will be available to view throughout the show.
The performance is made possible by funding from the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, The California Arts Council and the John and Beverly Stauffer Foundation.
Tickets are $18 for general admission, $15 for UCSD faculty, staff and senior citizens, and $12 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the UCSD Box Office, at all Ticketmaster outlets and on the Web at http://www.ueo.ucsd.edu.
For further information on the show, call the University Events Office at (858) 534-4090.