San Diego Dance Theater will kick off the New Year with “There the Dance Is,” a homecoming of sorts as it will be held at the Mandell Weiss Theatre on the UCSD campus- Jean’s old stomping grounds. Jean has selected five UCSD Dance Alumni to perform with the company in works by Jean and guest choreographer Monica Bill Barnes (also a former UCSD student). Dancers Beth Calarco and Jessica Curiel are two of five graduates dancing in the show. They have both been active members of the San Diego dance scene and have stayed connected to SDDT. We are very excited to have these two dynamic ladies in the show!
What are you hoping to experience through performing at the Mandeville as an alumni of UCSD?
Beth: It will be wonderful to return to Mandeville. I have the best memories of performing dance at UCSD and can’t wait to be back.
Jessica: I am performing two very different pieces, each being my favorite types of work: a classic Isaacs rep and a Monica Bill Barnes dance that takes the mental power of a mathematician and physical power of a marathon runner. I am hoping (praying, meditating, full-out begging) to give my best performance yet as a thank you to all of my years of working with Jean (that’s 20 but who’s counting) and to Margaret Marshall, who made a dance degree at UCSD possible. I owe my current professional life to that BA! Full circle moment…
What is your fondest memory of your time as a dancer at UCSD or with Jean?
Beth: Jean wouldn’t be too happy if I shared all…my best memories were dancing, at that time, above the basketball courts in the old gym. Jean often stopped class so we could all ogle the basketball players below. We were cramped, sweaty, dismal ventilation and light, but the most amazing dancing and camaraderie ensued. After class on Fridays frequently found us across the “hump” at Porter’s Pub, with Jean.
Jessica: I first met Jean the summer before high school. Her company and Ramona Arts Unlimited did the most wonderful thing for the students in Ramona, THEY BROUGHT THE COMPANY TO US! I did that 3-week summer intensive, Summer Dancin’, every summer. The summer before my senior year of high school, I talked to Jean about where I should apply to college. She said, very frankly, “Go to UCSD.” I replied, “But they don’t have a dance degree.” “They will,” she said. So, I applied.
Jean always led me to opportunity to train with the best, perform with the best, and be my best. I owe a great part of my dancing life to her. When I think of my favorite times with Jean, they are the simple times, like laying in the sunny spot of Studio 2 of the NDF (New Dance Facility, it had not been named yet) and Jean walking in and seeing the dancers mentally and physically exhausted and saying, “Let’s start on the floor”. I think we (the Jean Alumni crew) did a pretty great job of capturing her “Jean-isms” in the dance we created for her retirement from UCSD. If there is a recording out there, watch it. It was all wonderful, fun, and hilarious.
What part of this rehearsal process has been most memorable for you?
Beth: Probably the day that Jean told us we would be wearing fake fur coats and little else. Oh, Jean.
Jessica: Every time I work with Monica, I am AMAZED by the mental process. Yes, the physical process is intense, but that’s dance and we’re used to that. Monica approaches performance as an actor, which we (dancers) are not used to. I am constantly learning from that MBB&Co brain. Also, I am looking forward to more time in the studio with Jean. That always feels like home to me.
Thank you for sharing ladies! Check them out in what is sure to be a special and nostalgic show on January 17th, 18th and 19th!
Tickets and information can be found at: