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Fresno State’s Contemporary Dance Ensemble: 5 Things to Know about ‘Connections 2023’

It’s opening weekend for the annual dance concert at Fresno State, which always gets a spot on the university’s main stage. The company consists of majors across the University and is under the artistic direction of Theatre and Dance faculty member Kenneth Balint. This year’s title is “Connections 2023.” It continues 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, and runs 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Feb. 25.

I asked Miguel Gastelum, who handles publicity for the theater department, to put together an exclusive Five Things To Know list for you. Take it away, Miguel:

1.

This year the company is performing a piece from the acclaimed San Francisco dance company Robert Moses’ KIN.

The acquisition is quite the big get for the program. Early in September of last year Elena Martins and Juliann Witt of Robert Moses’ KIN come to Fresno to restage “The Supplicant.” The dance work premiered in 1996 and is still being performed by the company today. It is a demanding piece and, according to Balint, “it has brought considerable artistic growth to the dancers cast in it.”


2.

The program features a piece choreographed by Fresno State senior dance major, Zachary Garcia.

While the main component of membership in The Contemporary Dance Ensemble is to dance, it is tradition that one of the six dance works presented at the spring concert be one that a member of the ensemble has created. This year is no exception as Zachary Garcia jumps into the Choreographer’s seat. Garcia’s piece “Something in the Water” brings together lush contemporary choreography along with projected video. “[the piece] leads the viewer into a physically active and fluid environment,” says Balint.

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“Something in the Water” is also one of the two adjudication pieces that the ensemble will present at the American College Dance Association conference in April at UC Irvine.


3.

While the title may suggest an overarching theme, that’s not the case.

Each dance work in the performance is an independent statement. Each has their own theme and message. The idea of repertoire performance is so that the observer can experience multiple journeys within a single evening’s performance.


4.

The production is an all-hands on deck affair, involving 69 people in total.

That number includes 14 dancers, six choreographers, one artistic director, two stage managers, nine designers, 10 running crew members, and 27 staff members and student assistants. It really does take a village.


5.

The Contemporary Dance ensemble is open to all students, and has been recognized nationally for its achievements.

The ensemble welcomes students of any major across Fresno State to audition. Auditions are held in April for inclusion in the next academic year’s ensemble. Students in the ensemble enjoy at least two residencies from outside master choreographers each season. This year’s guests included Robert Moses and Bernard Brown.

The ensemble attends the annual American College Dance Association Conference and has been recognized multiple times for performance and choreographic excellence and awarded the coveted “Gala” status.


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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com

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