JUX: Spring 2022 Senior Projects

VCUarts Dance + Choreography presents JUX: Spring 2022 Senior Project Concerts over two weekends. Friday, April 22, 7:30 pm @The Courtyard of the Theresa Pollak School of the Arts Building, 325 N. Harrison St. (Lucia Biondi), and Thursday-Saturday, April 28-30, 7:30 pm, and Saturday at 2:00 pm @The Grace Street Theater, 934 W. Grace Street (program details below). All performances are FREE. Masks are strongly encouraged. Call 804-828-2020 for information. The April 22 outdoor performance is not ticketed. Reserve tickets for April 28-30 by following this link.

Program details:
Program A features work by Joi Brown, Casey Gutenberger, McKenzie Page, Jane Wyatt
Thursday, April 28, 7:30 pm & Saturday, April 30, 7:30 pm
Program B features work by Qico Cook, Tamara Denson, Nelson Mejia, Ashley Sese, Maria Williams
Friday, April 29, 7:30 pm & Saturday, April 30, 2:00 pm

“Jux” is an abbreviation of juxtaposition and refers to the way the spring class of 2022 has navigated unique pathways and experiences during a challenging time. Ironically, these diverse paths led to the development of distinct works that became a bridge that solidified a cohesive community of emerging artists. 

Throughout our time in the department, we weathered multiple iterations of a global pandemic, learning how to learn through different modalities, isolation, and a large-scale social justice reckoning. As such, we have created unique strategies to advance through the program and developed unique creative voices, while upholding the voices and traditions of our dance community. This concert encapsulates these factors in how our artistry compliments and juxtaposes each other’s. Through these varying contrasts, we discovered complementary interplay through our collective experiences and are excited to share our journey through Jux.” Senior Project Students – Spring 2022 

Lucia Biondi’s re- [form/purpose/define], is an interactive performance that examines the following ideas of production and consumerism – haggling/bargaining culture, the significance of making/creating as a liberating act, and radical market pricing. The work explores how clothes are exchanged and handled cross-culturally. “For instance, the ways I handle clothes are intertwined with my Venezuelan identity and yet, these ways become transgressive behaviors when confronted with the customs of the United States’ hyper-consumerism.” I have left clothes on a clothesline, forgotten clothes in the dryer, bargained for clothes at street markets and shopped at malls with non-negotiable prices. I have held onto clothes for repurposing the fabric/garment, which has been viewed as hoarding in the U.S. These two distinct realities make me question whether there are methods of handling clothes that add more value, purpose, and care to what we wear? 

Who They Were Becoming is a multimedia work that grew out of choreographer Joi Brown’s research entitled Intergenerational Performances of Black Womanhood, funded by the VCU iCubed Program for Undergraduate Scholars. In the research, she examines how performances of southern Black womanhood had been passed down intergenerationally through discussion-based interviews with eight Black women, ages 20 to 71. These discussions centered on the women’s experiences with traditions, lineage, and storytelling. This work comprises the creative translation of these narratives and of those shared by the cast and Brown’s own experiences. The result is a performance piece that reflects and celebrates Black womanhood. 

Quest 4 R3-B!RTH is a dance film that explores questions around self-determinism choreographed by Qiana “Qico” Cook. In the work, Cook uses the lens of the camera to probe the intrapersonal understanding of identity – who are you? who do you choose to be at this moment? How often does the person we decide to be, change throughout the evolution of our life? This process of constant transformation, fostered by curiosity within, can allow one to reach greater heights if only they seek what lies behind the veil of self-doubt.

Energy Flux choreographed by Tamara Denson is an exploration of energy. Here, Denson plays with how dancers feed off each other’s energy, how different dance styles use the same amount of energy yet look different, and how potential energy compares to kinetic energy. Denson uses this investigation of the manifestation of human energy to communicate how emotions are often at the center of our energetic field and interactions. 

“apple jacks, choreographed by Casey Gutenberger, stems from her personal experiences of having to overcome a speech impediment. The work explores humiliation, judgment, and bullying and how these experiences impact self-confidence and mental health. Through explorations of her life experiences, she illustrates how speech disorders affect individuals and impact relationships. 

Nelson Mejia’s work !?” delves into questions around catalytic relationships because of shared space through intra-personal, inter-personal and bodily-environmental interactions. He uses both aesthetic and innately emotional elements to guide an ever-evolving movement experience with the idea of an anchoring point. Yet, what happens when the anchor is no longer there? 

“… just like in the Book,“ choreographed by McKenzie Page, is a creative exploration of virtuousness. She uses biblical text the Book of Revelation to explore ideas of spirituality and goodness in this life and the next. 

Kawayan, choreographed by Ashley Sese, combines the traditional dance of the Philippines, Tinikling, with contemporary American dance forms. Through this process of blending, Sese discovers unique ways of merging these distinct forms and bridging the two countries she calls home – the Philippines and the US. Kawayan embodies this connectivity of embracing old and new traditions and honoring cultural memory.    

(Ri)volving Expedition, choreographed by Maria Williams is about a life-long journey of self-discovery. In this work, Williams explores her family and cultural roots through music and dance that shaped her identity and purpose as a dancer and artist. For, Williams, these cultural forms provided a foundation that was instructive, familiar, and comforting.  

Jane Wyatt’s One Monster After Another is centered around the exploration of extremes and opposites using costuming to blur the lines between shape, space, and design. The work follows a tryptic structure in three sections, each with its unique body extension via the costume. The costuming impacts how the dancers shape the space and create a surreal world into which they invite the audience. This work was inspired by the children’s book One Monster After Another by Mercer Mayer. Here, the performers take the audience through multiple dimensions of a surreal and eerie disco, where they tease the viewer with the hum of familiarity juxtaposed by the preternatural.

The spring 2022 Senior Project Concerts are the eighth event in the VCUarts Dance + Choreography 40th Anniversary Season, featuring new works for stage, screen, and other sites by students, faculty, and guest artists.