“Monstro/us,” the 2022-2023 University of New Mexico faculty dance concert, demonstrates the grotesque with four original dance compositions that examine the horrors of war and the darker side of the human psyche.
Playing for six performances from Feb. 24 through March 4 in the Rodey Theatre, “Monstro/us” consists of two flamenco and two contemporary pieces in an alternating repertoire. A production of the department of theatre and dance, “Monstro/us” features choreography from both resident and guest faculty and performances by students in the UNM dance program.
The UNM dance program is especially renowned for its flamenco work, according to Isabella Alderete — a senior double majoring in dance with a flamenco concentration and philosophy with a law concentration.
“People travel from everywhere just to come and study with the guest artists who travel from Spain every single semester. They come and they make these pieces for us, and we present them every spring,” Alderete said.
“Las Flores Contadas,” conceived and choreographed by guest artist Marco Flores, makes a commentary on the horrors of war, specifically the Spanish Civil War with parallels to more recent conflicts; it serves as the first piece in the concert. The work is inspired by Pablo Picasso's "Guernica” and the musical composition “Guern-irak” by Enrique Morente.
“I’m really excited to do ‘Las Flores Contadas’ because it deals with a heavy subject about war and casualties, and the impact that power and money has had on our communities and people. I am very excited to use a dance form like flamenco to express something like that,” Alderete said.
Dana Tai Soon Burgess, who was an artist in residence last semester, choreographed the second piece, titled “Silhouettes.” A flowing composition full of symbolism, this work examines the psyche, according to Yu “Laura” Hu, a cast member in “Silhouettes” and senior majoring in dance with an emphasis on contemporary dance and a minor in psychology.
“Contemporary dance is what is happening now. I think contemporary allows (you) to explore so much more with dance than just moving your body. It also taps into your psyche. People are looking toward somatics and such, which also relates to my study in psychology,” Hu said.
Moving back to flamenco for the third piece, guest artists Rafael Estévez and Valeriano Paños choreographed “El Sueño de la Razón Crea Monstros.” This piece is inspired by “El Sueño de la Razón Produce Monstruos,” by Francisco Goya, which depicts an artist asleep while surrounded by monstrous creatures, according to Marisol Encinias, professor and one of the concert’s artistic directors.
The final piece is a contemporary dance titled “Morrow,” choreographed by Vladimir Conde Reche, professor and the concert’s other artistic director. This work is about people who see war in their dreams.
“Today these dreams are a reality to far too many people, and the monsters that cause these nightmares roam free with predictable disguises. Morrow is an homage to those who endure such nightmares, and at the end continue to guide all of us with hope towards a more humane tomorrow,” Reche writes in a statement in the show’s program.
The concert doesn’t only provide opportunities for dance students, but for theatre students as well, according to Lilinoe Field-Perkins, assistant stage manager for “Monstro/us” and a student double majoring in theatre and Native American studies.
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“It’s really cool to connect with the dancing part of UNM’s theatre and dance program, because as an actor I hardly see the dancers, so it’s really cool to meet some of them and see their work. They’re really incredible, so that makes it all worth it — how good they are,” Field-Perkins said.
The faculty dance concert has been happening at least once a year going back to the 1970s, according to Encinas.
The performance runs for approximately 100 minutes, including a 10 minute intermission. Tickets for “Monstro/us” are $15 for the general public and $10 for students. Performances are Feb. 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 26 at 2 p.m., March 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. and March 4 at 4 p.m.
Gabriel Garcia is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @GLGWrites