Sonoma State University Forever in a Second

Photo by James Wirth

Review of Forever in a Second
Directed by Kristen Daley
Sonoma State University Department of Theatre Arts & Dance
Sonoma State University, Ives Hall 119
Rohnert Park, CA

RUN: February 10-12, 2017
RATING: 4 of 5 stars

February 10, 2017

Forever in a Second is a collection of contemporary dance primarily from choreographer and professor Kristen Daley, with a work by Mark Haim. Underlying the pieces is a sense of our humanity, reaching for what gives value and purpose to life. Local artists have come together for these performances, from dancers and vocalists to original music from Jesse Olsen Bay, who has created collages of sound ranging from serenely contemplative to the harsh cacophony of modern society interpreted through music.

In the Absence (2016)
5 of 5 Stars
Choreography: Kristen Daley in collaboration with the dancers
Music: Jesse Olsen Bay

Chilling loneliness opens this piece with a riveting solo, utilizing stillness and reaching round movement tracing across the floor. The dancers are garbed in ragged sand-colored tunics designed by Ashley Williams, bound together in an oppressive sense of fear, unified and beaten down by circumstances, yet always gazing up, hoping for release. The choreography is earthy and grounded, filled with group lifts and slow exploration, moving from the core with hints of Martha Graham. I have seen this piece before, and it always inspires a sense of beautiful longing.

Sonoma State University Forever in a Second

Photo by James Wirth

Donna Anna Study (2003)
4 of 5 Stars

Choreography: Mark Haim
Music: Recitativo accompagnato: “Don Ottavio son morta…!” and Aria: “Or sai chi l’onore” from W.A. Mozart’s Don Giovanni

An astonishing and clever dance, it uses the rhythm and feel of the opera translated into physicality. Kristen Daley’s strong technique reacts viscerally to the singing as counterpart to emotions being portrayed in the music with silent film style melodrama and comedy. Standing to the side in an ornate 18th century jacket, Jared Wiltse is the passive recipient of Daley’s passionate reprimands. Juxtaposing traditional with modern costuming felt distracting as an audience member, taking away from the dance, which was a joy to watch and unique idea to explore. Mark Wilson’s lighting design shifted seamlessly in parallel with the resonance and drama of the choreography.

I can see everything from here (2016)
4 of 5 Stars
Choreography: Kristen Daley in collaboration with the dancers
Music: “I can see everything from here” by Jesse Olsen Bay

Using the phrase that titles this piece as a motif, the dance ebbs and flows like an ocean with the gentle harmonious humming of three live singers who create a mantra atmosphere and sense of awe. Dancers journey through the stage, switching places, building tension that explodes into screaming agony and settles into leery steps of discomfort, whispering “I can see everything from here.” Uncertainty layers over an ensemble that attempts connection with each other, sliding in graceful passé leaps and constant shifting. Costumes of muted colors in navy blue, burgundy, and moss green emphasize the quiet desperation of this dance.

…the words we have forgotten (Premiere)
5 of 5 stars
Choreography: Kristen Daley in collaboration with the dancers
Music: Jesse Olsen Bay

Thunder rolls into darkness, triggering a brilliant collage of sound effects, from a telegraph to dripping water, traffic, and an echoing heartbeat. This concentrated powerhouse of a pas de deux is filled with nervous energy; it is reminiscent of PTSD victims facing their fear, shaking uncontrollably, yet persisting through support of each other. Aimée Otterson and Jared Wiltse fight to be together, often dancing apart, and rushing past in flashes of complexity. Long straight lines feature in this piece that speaks to anyone who has experienced a tragedy or terror and is struggling to have a relationship with others as a result.

Interface (2012)
3 of 5 stars
Choreography: Kristen Daley in collaboration with the dancers
Music: Jesse Olsen Bay
Text: Peter-Peringer Batten

In the 21st century, we have become a culture of physical disconnect—clinging to smart phones and tablets, spending more time on social media than actually meeting with friends, and rarely having the opportunity for the intimacy of a touch, embrace, or face to face conversation. Interface explores this phenomena, and while the concept is authentic, the dance feels artificial and too literal at times, particularly the concluding tableaux. The center of the piece has energy to it, with chaotic jetés and sprinting from one side of the stage to the other, breaking into small groups and returning to the synchronicity of a crowd with smooth, swinging movements. Dancers use their back to the audience, which is a subtle nod to the meaning of the piece, and even as the last dance on the program, the technical aspects were sharp; unless a jump was meant to slap into the ground as part of the percussion, landings were soft and silent. Geometric and angled, Interface is an intriguing piece and did open discussion about how as a society we need to find better ways to connect that do not involve technology in between.

Kristen Daley continues to impress with her emotionally driven choreography that does not shy away from commentary on current issues. She has gathered a talented group of students, alumni, and local performers; I look forward to what she will bring to the stage this year and beyond.