Dance, music, video, storytelling and more are all part of CSUCI’s 2023 “Arts Under the Stars”
“Perseverance” is the theme of CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI)’s 13th annual “Arts Under the Stars” show, scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 on the John Spoor Broome Library lawn. The public is invited, and attendees may bring a blanket or lawn chair for the concert in the park style evening.
“Arts Under the Stars” (AUTS) is an annual multimedia springtime performance with music, dance, storytelling, video, and numerous other types of performance art.
“The students decided on perseverance as a theme and came to the conclusion that in order to persevere, you have to find joy and you have to have community,” said Associate Professor of Performing Arts/Dance Heather Castillo, who coordinates AUTS each year. “These students have always had a social justice lens, but this year they went less with the idea of fight and resistance and more with what they want for the world—more world-building.”
Castillo co-produced the show with an executive producer, Associate Professor of Africana Studies & Performing Arts Cameron Harris.
“He’s a brilliant filmmaker, which really helps with the giant video we have behind many of the performances,” Castillo said. “And he’s helping with the storytelling with the students.”
Dance Studies majors Madison Hitchcock and Gabriella Perry are appearing in seven different pieces in the show. Hitchcock will the first student to graduate from CSUCI with a degree in the new Dance Studies major. Perry graduates in 2024. Both students conceptualized and wrote three pieces after discussing how they would illustrate the “perseverance” theme.
“We found we wanted to make a Utopia where everyone could get along and connect with one another through art,” Perry said. “With bumps and bruises along the way.”
One of the pieces they created is a dance with narration that depicts an LGBTQ couple getting away from an unsupportive family to a place where they could thrive.
“We landed on that because it seems the whole start of 2023 this has been an attack on a lot of people’s rights if they are not straight or white,” Hitchcock said.
Anyone on campus can be a part of AUTS as it encompasses a variety of multimedia along with live performances, which is part of contemporary production, Castillo said.
“When you watch Taylor Swift perform, she has dancers, graphic designers, artistic directors and choreographers to all pull the show together. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Castillo said. “Because of advances in technology, things can be as simple as one person standing alone on stage or something highly produced. Students are learning how to synthesize their pieces with dancers, storytelling, writing, narration, lighting design—they are learning how to tell stories with their various media all together.”
Many of the CSUCI clubs and organizations will be performing pieces as well, such as the Black Student Union, which will be performing a step dance. Also performing will be the Kilusan Pilipino Club, the CI Dance Club and CSUCI’s “Kake Pop” group, to name a few.
CSUCI dancers will perform “Nasty Women,” a piece on women’s reproductive rights, and a lyrical jazz piece about making spaces for people with different identities, based on a dance choreographed by internationally lauded choreographer/dancer Doug Caldwell, who traveled the world dancing for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Queen Elizabeth.
Performance pieces were created by CSUCI Dances Studies, Music Ensemble and Theatre & Performance Studies. Guest performers include “Hip Hop Mindset” from the Rio School District and Inlakech Mariachi & Folklorico dancers from the Inlakech Cultural Arts Center.
“Everybody worked on their own piece,” Perry said. “That’s what I like about AUTS is that everybody has a voice, and they all have something to say.”
Wristbands are required to be on the AUTS lawn. Guests may register in advance at www.2023.artsunderthestars.cikeys.com or when they arrive to the show. The show will also be livestreamed via the AUTS website on May 6.
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