“Covenants” showcases a variety of contemporary dance styles

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Story by Avery Johnston and Alex Yanez

Bodies were rising from the dead as they laythere concealed by plastic. Hands were reaching from the beyond. This isn’t a scene from a movie– it was a part of Fresno State’s Contemporary Dance Ensemble show,”Covenants. “

The ensemble debuted its program at the John Wright Theatre on Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. 

‘Covenants” was performed by the Dance 163 course offered by Fresno State and consists of 15  cast members.

 The show was choreographed by Kenneth Balint, Farrah Mcadam, Anandha Ray and Zachary Segovia. 

The ensemble began working on the show last fall. The name of the show comes from the title of one of the six dances performed. Each dance has a new theme and inspiration for it.

The first dance,  “The Whole Piece,”  started off upbeat accompanied with music by Missy Elliot and Bruno Mars. 

Cast members enjoyed a slice of pizza while demonstrating a hip-hop dance. The cast dressed up like an episode of Saved by the Bell and danced. 

Things got darker in the dance called “The Gathering.” Cast members were lying on the floor presumably dead with their hands raised from the grave reaching out. 

One by one, they were uncovered and a collection of bodies turned into a collaborative dance. 

Balint said the inspiration for “The Gathering” was “to offer a glimpse of the beneath the surface longings we all have as human beings.”

Covenant was the star of the show and rather than using the 15 members of the cast, it only featured three as they were lined up behind one another creating the illusion of one person.

The lighting was dark and the music was eerie featuring many different composers. The dance was like a scene from American Horror Story and transcended the audience into a darker world. 

The show ends with a piece called “4CB” that tools the audience through a 1940s-like era, ending the show with a heartfelt look at the past. Confetti was released as the final dance took place. 

According to choreographer and artistic director Kenneth Balint, the inspiration was the idea of a fun dance looking back at past dance styles within the framework of hanging out with friends.

Balint, has been at working at Fresno State since 2001. Balint has also had a 20 year career in professional dance.  

“’Covenants’ represents the artistic work of four choreographers, fifteen talented dancers, and numerous behind-the-scenes artistic collaborators,” said Balint.

Balint expects the performance to go well and he appreciates the time his students have put in through practice. 

“So they are short ten-minute dance works. Each have their own individual scene. I’ve choreographed two of them,” said Balint. “We’ve got a student choreographer who is title, ‘choreographer in residence’, who has done another one. Which is a real beautiful piece.”

Balint also said that the Fresno State Dance Program students working on the performance had training from outside guest artists to train on one scene. 

“I think it is an awesome process. Creating the content and teaching the dancers the content, and perfecting it,” said Balint. 

“And getting on to see the final product on stage with an audience and lights and costumes. It’s a great process.”

Balint is always looking for that support in order to fund future projects within the theatre and dance program, which comes from Associated Student Inc. at Fresno State. 

These meetings for future funding are usually held in March said Balint. “The students have worked so hard and we try to publicize and advertise to the campus community to come out and see them and usually they are well supported,” said Balint. “

And I’m hoping again that this year they are supported.”

“The students have worked so hard and we try to publicize and advertise to the campus community to come out and see them and usually they are well supported,” said Balint. 

“And I’m hoping again that this year they are supported.”

Eric Olsen, a theatre major at Fresno State, works at the box office for the department of theatre arts. Olsen said he sells five to fifteen customers during his two-hour shifts when working at the box office.

   “My expectations for the show, I’ve seen a couple dance performances from last year. I really enjoy them. It’s a neat opportunity to watch the students dance and stuff,” said Olsen. “It’s pretty cool and they put a whole act together and there’s lighting and everything. So that is neat. So I’m excited to see this one.”

“Covenants” will be performed again Feb. 18 through 22 at 7:30 p.m. with a daytime showing on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. in the John Wright Theatre at Fresno State. 

Tickets are $17 for general admission, $15 for staff, alumni, seniors citizens, and military and $10 for all students. 

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