Cats, strange Westwood encounters and pop divas inspired the choreography for the 2016 “Yes to Bodies” dance production.
“Yes to Bodies,” a World Arts and Cultures/Dance show, will highlight the work of 26 student artists in its second annual performance Friday in the Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater. The event’s co-producers Michelle Mazzarella and Timna Naim added two new elements to last year’s production of “Yes to Bodies” to expand the WAC/D reach: an opening segment and a post-show discussion in addition to the students’ in-progress works.
The event, based off of Yvonne Rainer’s “No Manifesto” – a written piece about minimalism in dance – centers around bodily freedom and acceptance. The producers said they hope the creation of a safe performing space will unite UCLA.
Like the show’s main choreography portion, the new opener and closer center on the perception and affirmation of bodies, helping to reinforce the show’s themes of self-empowerment to the UCLA community, said Mazzarella, a fourth-year dance student.
“Last year’s format was very showcase-style, in which it was one piece following the next, following the next,” Mazzarella said. “This year we’re hoping to have a little bit more variety.”
The new opening called “10 for 10,” hosted in collaboration with the Queer Arts Collective, consists of 10 one-minute pieces choreographed by students from across campus, rather than just WAC/D majors, Mazzarella said. Participants for “10 for 10″ were selected on a voluntary first-come, first-served basis and didn’t fill out an application or audition, Mazzarella said.
The post-show discussion will open a forum for audience members to voice their reactions to the main works of the show, said Naim, a fourth-year dance student. The discussion, facilitated by Naim and members of the Queer Arts Collective, will create an opportunity for direct communication between spectator and spectacle, Naim said.
“The hope is that the discussion is more about the UCLA campus climate and about the theme of body affirmation within the UCLA context,” Naim said.
The goal of the production is to inspire connections and bring the UCLA community together through the combination of the opening segment and the post-show discussion, Mazzarella said.
Nick Angelillis is one of the two south campus students in this year’s production. Angelillis joined the production after Naim invited him to participate, said the fourth-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student.
Angelillis will perform a one-minute drag piece, along with fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student Jake Garcia. They will shimmy across the stage in matching frilled crop tops and skirts while chained together to portray the strong connection they share as fellow drag queens, Angelillis said.
It’s their first time publicly performing in drag, Angelillis said.
“I would love to be an inspiration, and hope students will see us and think, ‘Oh, there are people like us, who are able to show themselves and do this,” he said.
The piece is inspired by Lady Gaga’s “Do What U Want” and the show’s emphasis on the acceptance and affirmation of all bodies, he said.
“We’re just trying to show there are fierce … queens here on campus,” Angelillis said. “We’re not afraid to come out and show what we’ve got.”
Fourth-year dance students Bora Yoon and Allyson Adams choreographed and will dance in “Yes to Bodies.” Their dance number explores humans’ fight-or-flight instincts and feline-like reflexes to create a piece that celebrates more animalistic aspects of human nature, Yoon said.
“Human bodies live in the space and everything in your environment is your body, and everything in your environment influences your body,” Yoon said. “Cats have the best understanding of this concept.”
The overall goal of “Yes to Bodies” is to connect the campus through performance art, bringing themes of body politics to the forefront and relating the arts to student lives, Naim said.
“With (Yes to Bodies), the possibilities of a campus-wide dialogue become realistic,” Naim said. “We’re hopefully bringing all these people together in one space to share art together, which I think is kind of awesome and beautiful.”