Speaking Movement dance concert captivates audience with symbolic and enthralling performances


Kirsten Hoj, Moorpark College dance student, performs in a dance number titled "Die, Die, Dichotomy!" during the Speaking Movement dance presentation on Thursday, Nov. 14. The number was choreographed by Emma-Rose Allen, a fellow dance student at Moorpark College. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Madina Safdari

In a collaboration between students and faculty, heartfelt dance routines took the stage on Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Moorpark College Performing Arts Center. The Speaking Movement dance concert showcased 11 original works highlighting an array of styles and talent.

The dance department rehearsed since the beginning of the fall semester in order to compose an evening of compelling performances. Co-director and faculty choreographer Robert Salas emphasized the significance of naming this event “Speaking Movement” is as a motif for the feelings dance is able to communicate without words.

“My colleague [Beth Megill] and I have taken the approach of using poems and actual spoken word within the dances, I even have sign language in one of my pieces, to help tell the story many ways: physically, verbally and with gestures and sign language,” Salas said.

Speaking Movement_1.jpg
Moorpark College dance students perform a number titled, "Ghosts" during the Speaking Movement dance presentation on Thursday, Nov. 14. The number was choreographed by dance department director, Robert Salas. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Dance faculty members Wendi Baity, Beth Megill, Vivian Goldes and Salas all choreographed routines with distinct symbolism and significance. Salas’ choreographed routines include “Ghosts”, “Gilroy” and the finale “Words and Movement.”

“One of them is called ‘Gilroy’ which is essentially my exploration into the deconstruction of an individual that leads into violence,” Salas explained. “I start off with a video that shows the effects that words have on people bullying and you see with his posture kind of a deconstruction of the individual and then you see these three dancers manifesting fear, anxiety and even possibly ‘who’s the shooter?’ or ‘when?’.”

Student choreography was also a main fixture of the event, with dance department students Brianna Kurth, Jasmine Glavey, Kevin Holland, Emma-Rose Allen and Kirsten Hoj all debuting original pieces. Third year dance student Emma-Rose Allen choreographed “Die, Die, Dichotomy!” a dance that used spoken word to explore the struggle between opposing human desires.

“I actually came up with the idea at the end of last spring semester and the original idea was sort of tied around a lot of things; our addiction to technology and the lack of human connection and the lack of touch and there are things that we don’t get, that we need in this modern day,” Allen said.

Speaking Movement_3.jpg
Several Moorpark College dance students perform a dance number entitled "Die, Die, Dichotomy!" during the Speaking Movement dance performance on Thursday, Nov. 14 in the Performing Arts Center. The number was choreographed by Moorpark College dance student Emma-Rose Allen. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

However, after Allen took an anthropology class this semester, she was inspired by the beginnings of man and used a key attribute that sets humans apart from other species into her choreography.

“It kind of transferred into this idea of the obsession on material items, so a materialistic view. So ‘Die, Die, Dichotomy!’… is the idea that there are two parts of you and they’re both trying to simultaneously be on top … and how do you navigate the balance between those two things?” Allen pondered.

Speaking Movement.jpg
Moorpark College dance students perform a routine titled "Strictly Business" during the Speaking Movement dance presentation on Thursday, Nov. 15 in the Performing Arts Center. The routine was choreographed by Brianna Kurth. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

The range of genres performed, included ballet, jazz and more, all which were positively received by the audience of both students and supportive parents. Second year theater major Seth Gunawardena was excited to attend and see close friends perform.

“I think dance concerts are super interesting, especially from an acting point of view, just because it’s like theater but there’s hardly any words … I think ‘Ghosts’ was my favorite, it had a lot of beautiful moments,” Gunawardena said.

Speaking Movement will have ongoing shows over the weekend on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and an afternoon performance on Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Performing Arts Center box office, by contacting them at (805) 378-1485, or online to save 20%.