Let the sandman bring you rhythm: SRJC students present dream interpretations

James Dory practices his dance in the middle of a circle of his peers. Dory and his fellow students will perform May 9-11 at 8 p.m. in Burbank hall.

Jesse Hoopes, Staff Writer

In the harsh light of day on this particularly hot April afternoon, the sound of heavy boots and bare, calloused feet follow the circuitous boom/thump erupting from the speaker. Leilana Puelin, 27, yells to her dancers above the roar, signifying a change in movement to which the dancers immediately respond, resulting in a synchronized about-face followed by the sound of loud stomping analogous to the beat of the music.

This is Puelin’s version of a dream. The four minute dance will be one of 13 presented at Burbank Hall this May as part of the SRJC dance department showcase: “Dreamscapes.”

Puelin gets approximately five minutes to rehearse her piece. As soon as she finishes dance student Maddie Watson will rehearse with her team of dancers, her interpretation of a dream.

“Some are literal and some are abstract,” SRJC instructor Susan Matthies says. With time and space being a factor in the rehearsal process, the dancers take advantage of each moment, enduring intense rehearsals for what will ultimately be a 90 minute performance. “All that work for that little time,” Matthies says.

Students who want to choreograph their own piece go through a rigorous audition process. Twenty students submit proposals to the teachers.

“We want the show to be diverse and varied. We then decide what pieces are together enough to be in the show,” Matthies says. When the pieces have been chosen, “we move to the next level.” The next level being rehearsal, when all of the proverbial kinks are worked out and as Matthies states, “everything filters together.”

The heat level of the rehearsal space is exacerbated by the intense physical movement carried out by each of the dancers in a non-stop queue of waiting their turn to reiterate each move until it is perfect. Matthies is somewhat of a mother figure to her den of dancers, boasting about each one and the intense camaraderie they shares, “[We] are respectful of each other… a team.” She says, “We are one big family here.”

The big family encompasses a diverse student profile. Kyle Mitchell, a marketing/advertising major who is one of the choreographers of the show, admits that his future plans are still up in the air.

Bridget Codini, dance major and another choreographer of the show is also performing in the upcoming SRJC show “Spamalot” and is enrolled in 22 units. Asked if she had a job, Codini replied, “No time, I get financial aid.”

Puelin teaches yoga and dance in Sebastopol and hopes to work with patients doing movement therapy, being an advocate of the mind-body-spirit connection.

Described as the “quiet one,” dance major Izzy Contreras has the ‘no pressure’ honor of presenting the last piece, a risqué number based on “Moulin Rouge” with a twist. Contreras plans on attending Sonoma State and getting his B.A. in dance.

Rehearsals are coming to a close as the last group assembles to run through a piece having to do with a Holocaust nightmare. With absolutely no hesitation in the oppressive heat, the dancers place gas masks over their heads and wait for instructions. Matthies notices that one of the dancers is missing his mask. “Where is your mask?’ she asks, to which he replies, “I left it at home.” Matthies can’t help but smirk a little when hearing this. The blare of music signals the dancers into acquiescence.

“Dreamscapes” premieres 8 p.m.  Friday May 9 in Burbank Hall, then Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $17 and can be purchased via the box office (707) 527-4343. ASB students can receive one complimentary ticket.