"From Here - Mountain Tales, Mom Troubles, and Talking Dances"

By Ferda Mehmet, student intern of CHASS College Computing

Shawn WomackThe Department of Dance presented From Here on May 1-3 at 8:00 p.m. in the ARTS Building Performance Lab. The hour-long performance presented three new solos by choreographer and performer Shawn Womack. The dances merged Womack's interests in choreography, writing and personal stories while playing with questions about memory, place and identity. Having grown up in Riverside, Womack provided the audience with a way for seeing dance in relation to memory, various histories, place, present circumstances, shifting, and shifty identities related to the city. From Here allowed identity to burrow inside movement and text as it wriggled, writhed, snuck or lunged forth into a prism of bodily images.

The first piece presented by Womack, "I'm No Beauty," was a solo that demonstrated choreographed movement, spoken narratives, video imagery, and recorded narratives of Riverside's Mt. Rubidoux. Pushing on the notion that the landmark is a space of contained wilderness, Womack personified it as a rough-tough woman squeezed and clamped by pushy backyards. The Tens, the second solo, was performed by Riverside native and dancer Jennifer Twilley. Her moving and sounding conversation with cellist Josh Aerie culled and re-patterned from memories of danced and played experiences of the performers' past. The final solo, Mom Troubles, featured Womack splicing fictionalized and true accounts of troubled mothers and mothers in trouble. It sedimented notions of the white suburban mother, which at times appeared as a documentary of two particular women who garnered recent media attention.

A terminal degree designed specifically for artists wanting to work and do creative in the academy, Womack will be the first Master of Fine Arts to graduate at UCR. The MFA in dance is the first MFA program at UCR. There is no other MFA program like this because of the way it interfaces with the Dance Department's PhD program, also the first program of its kind, that is a scholarly humanities-based dance studies program in dance history and theory that looks at dance through cultural, rhetorical, and political historical discourses.

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