SF State year-long dance class puts on show in McKenna Theater thru March 3

Captivating someone without speaking can be difficult. But for dancers this is their passion, and they’ll show off their talents at their annual recital this week.

University Dance Theater, an auditioned class, is a year-long commitment for the dancers who are accepted into the performing ensemble. From other classes, to rehearsals and performances, the SF State dance majors have been preparing for the on-campus showcase, held each spring semester in McKenna Theater. This years’s showcase, held March 1 through March 3, is an adaptation of Kimi Okada’s “I Look Vacantly at the Pacific…Through Regret.”

“It’s currently in the ODC (Oberlin Dance Collective) repertoire. It’s a brilliant piece. It’s so intricate and it’s so funny, it’s heavy and funny,” said Ray Tadio, assistant professor at SF State and UDT choreographer. “It’s about cultural understanding and misunderstanding between the East and the West.”

SF State began a partnership with ODC dance company last year. Okada is an associate choreographer, director and founding member of the Mission District dance studio. This year, two SF State students, a lecturer and an assistant professor are choreographing the production. The dancers performing are double cast, which means two casts will be dancing at different shows because they wanted to give more students the opportunity to be in the show.

In Tadio’s pieces, “FourOfFourByFreddy” and “dNcision,” both are choreographed to Freddy Fender’s music, a Mexican-American rock ‘n’ roll and country musician. Tadio drew from famous literature and characters that are dear to him, like Of Mice and Men and Thelma and Louise. Adding to the mystique, the name of the one of the pieces isn’t numerically correct.

“It started out with four sections, then last week I just finished a fifth section. I was just so inspired by the dancers and his music that I added a fifth section. So the title is going to be very strange because its called ‘FourOfFourByFreddy’ but wait, there’s five sections,” Tadio said.

Adorned with a country setting, the piece is meant to invoke an emotion of sadness based on the quarkiness of the characters.

Assisting Tadio in directing is dance student Elizabeth Sheets. Sheets was the captain of her dance team in high school, and is bringing what she learned about that experience to her directing at SF State. Currently Sheets is balancing classes, dancing in the showcase, directing and being an RA on campus.

“Sometimes when I’m dancing, I’ll keep a mental checklist of ‘oh we need to do this’ or ‘oh I need to remember that’. I am in the ODC piece and in one of the two ‘FourOfFourByFreddy’ casts,” said Sheets. “It’s definitely a balancing act.”

As opening night approaches, its crunch time for the dancers.

“Its tough, the dancers are very tired. Everyone has been growing and pushing themselves,” said Cathleen McCarthy, a SF State lecturer who helped choreograph the show. “I’ve seen these dancers go through this experience as artists and dancers.”

The show starts March 1 and runs through March 3, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets for the McKenna Theatre performances are $8 in advance and $15 at the door.


• Darvejon Jones: “Interplay”;

• Brittany Russell: “She Lives Within”

• Jana Griffin: “Hiraeth”;

• Cathleen McCarthy: “Aeolus Quintet”;

• Kimi Okada: “I Look Vacantly at the Pacific … Though Regret”;

• Ray Tadio: “FourOfFourByFreddy”; and

• Ray Tadio: “dNcision”