It’s a public school art student’s worst nightmare: the moment a school tells that student it no longer has the grant money to fund his or her artistic endeavors. For UCLA world arts and cultures students, this nightmare became their reality.
Friday through Sunday in the Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater, students from the World Arts and Cultures Undergraduate Society will present wacSMASH’d, an annual dance, film, music, art and spoken word showcase. Despite economic shortcomings, these artists decided to fundraise on their own and surpassed their goal of $3,000, allowing them to go forward with producing the biggest annual student showcase the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance has to offer. The idea of wacSMASH’d stems from the combining of art forms prevalent within the showcase. Fourth-year world arts and cultures student Skye Serijan said that this was the only opportunity students had to reveal their work in a semi-professional platform. Artistic media range from the more obvious dance, to pre-show video installations downstairs in the lobby.
This is the first year the “D” has been added to what was previously WACsmash for the past 12 years. The world arts and culture/dance major had been split into two separate degrees in the past year, but the two are now smashed together for a single showcase.
“WACsmash was born out of the time when it was just world arts and culture,” said fourth-year dance student Jacob Campbell. “Now that it’s been split into WAC and dance we’re trying to add the ‘D’ to the end.”
“Some pieces have music and dance,” said fourth-year dance student Ahilya Kaul. “We have an acoustic guitar and tap piece performed by Sarah Summers. It is primarily dances because it is part of the dance department, but we also encourage music, and spoken word. Everyone is sort of mixing genres.”
It was mandatory for students to major in WAC to propose and choreograph a piece for the show, but anyone from any department could be a dancer or performer in somebody’s piece. Second-year biochemistry student Noah Holliday’s involvement in the show as lighting designer is an example of this sort of interdepartmental collaboration.
“Coming here last year, I didn’t know what WAC was, but after attending last year’s WACsmash, I had a completely new appreciation for artistic forms I didn’t even know existed,” Holliday said. “Designing this show is going to be a big challenge because it’s the first time wacSMASH’d has been done in opposing view, which means having the audience on each side of the stage.”
Choosing to set the audience in opposing-view seating for the first time was one of the major initial monetary roadblocks the WAC Undergraduate Society faced that led them to fundraise, but it also reflects some of the major creative challenges wacSMASH’d 2013 is trying to take on. Another wacSMASH’d first this year includes an increased emphasis on more metaphorical, conceptual pieces providing each of the choreographers with a greater artistic challenge.
“We encourage our choreographers to all approach their pieces in sort of the same way,” Kaul said. “Whatever concept they’re working with, we encourage them to think of the most creative articulation of that concept and try to maybe use metaphors or riddles.”
In one of the pieces, an artist uses the prop of chairs to highlight the idea of support in relationships as opposed to focusing on aspects of heartache and breakup. Each of the pieces aims to reveal through an artistic medium some idea of concepts the artists want to explore.
“Sarah’s piece with the acoustic guitar and tap is about the role of tap and how it’s seen as a very one-sided, not deep art form that only serves a function of a certain type of entertainment,” Kaul said. “So she’s shedding a new light on it by using a tap dancer as the percussion section of her acoustic guitar song.”
All of the work in wacSMASH’d is entirely student-funded, -choreographed and -performed, a chance for students outside of the world arts and cultures department to get to see what some of their artistic peers are up to.
“It’s not like somebody else is feeding us words to say or dances to do,” Serijan said. “This is something that people in WAC look forward to every year, so everyone puts their best selves forward.”
Email Pravetz at firstname.lastname@example.org.