Dance department gets intimate with ‘Shared Spaces’

When thinking of a dance show, it’s hard to imagine it taking place anywhere other than on a stage. However, Sonoma State University’s dance department challenged this perspective with their annual Fall Dance show, “Shared Spaces.” The student choreographed project played from Thursday to Sunday in Person Theater and site-specific spaces throughout campus. The abnormal settings challenged the audience to think outside the box to enjoy an unconventional show. 

“[Shared Spaces] was about connecting to community and being adaptable,” Christine Cali, the show’s director, said. “The process has been deconstructing traditional, normative theater to allow creativity and authenticity. We wanted to share spaces on campus that aren’t normally used for creating movement.” 

After the first indoor performance in Person Theater, performers asked audience members on stage after the first dance to “share the space” with them.  The altered perspective provided a new viewpoint intended by choreographers. 

Choreographers and dancers found inspiration by their site locations and events that happened in this last semester. “I was inspired to choreograph by the space I chose - the Stevenson Staircase. It was about escaping, whether physically or emotionally,” said Katy Waechter, a senior majoring in dance and assistant director.

The props, costuming, and lighting were often minimalistic to focus on the dancers and the stories and ideas they were trying to portray. A majority of the props consisted of boxes and platforms, while the lights were often only one hue or a single spotlight. The dance “Living Again,” choreographed by Sonia Mata, also featured golden ribbons to portray sunbeams mentioned in the music. 

To break the normative theater notion, “Shared Spaces” also brought some more unique and non traditional theater aspects than just the location and seating arrangements: two emcees. Seniors Waechter and Jennifer Novero provided comedic relief between dances, and time between quick changes of costumes. The duo provided an interactive dance during intermission that they encouraged the audience to be a part of, along with the stage hands and technical staff. 

“Shared Spaces” provided distinctive, memorable and lasting impressions on both the audience and performers. It challenged viewers to see a show from a untypical viewpoint and opened minds to new interpretations of the common thought for the word “show.” “I worked so hard and finally got to show a piece I’m super proud of,” freshman Lizethe Rodriguez said.