Students create their own shows

Paz Sandoval,

As the theater lights dimmed and the music’s tempo began to rise, the silhouettes of students on stage arranging the props for the opening set was all that could be seen. Then the stage lights came on and gave life to “Welcome to the Arcade,” a dance performance that depicts “how immersive, exciting, and energetic video games can get,” choreographed by Taylor Gee, a senior dance major.

“Welcome to the Arcade,” which is about a man addicted to video games, was the first of 10 scenes that students performed as part of the “Searching for Light” event. This “Fusion,” or student-directed, acted and choreographed play, is something students have been doing here at Cal State East Bay for over a decade.

The first challenge for the graduating theater and dance students was picking a theme. Marc Jacobs, associate professor of the department of theatre and dance, encouraged the senior class to come up with a common theme that would remain consistent throughout all of their pieces.

After playing with a few ideas, everyone came to the agreement that most of these scenes were about dealing with difficult times and looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. So “Searching for Light” became the common theme for the productions.

For seniors like Gee, this performance would become the final chapter of their undergraduate careers before leaving in search of higher education or opportunities in their field and beyond.

“The biggest thing to me getting my degree is finally closing that chapter in my life and starting my next one,” Gee said. “It also means I have to begin to look for opportunities around the Bay Area to dance and bring joy and happiness to the people I meet like I have when I’m at CSUEB.”

Gee wants to stay in the Bay Area for a while so he can start getting professional experience and make a name for himself. If he could go and dance with anyone, his dream would be to perform with the Kinjaz, a dance company based in Los Angeles. But pursuing this passion wasn’t what Gee initially set out to do when he first applied at Cal State East Bay.

He originally wanted to work towards a degree in computer science, but depression led him to second-guess that decision. “The lack of self-confidence to sit in front of a computer screen writing code for longer than four hours a day really made me rethink what I wanted to do with my life after college,” Gee explained. “It was thanks to Professor Laura Ellis whom I’ve had a dance class with during my cluster year who was the first to compliment me on my dancing skills and suggested I take dance as a minor.”

He continued, “I decided to take that suggestion one step further and become a dance major. The first year I was a dance major, I was finally able to overcome my depression.”

Gee feels that dance has always been a wonderful mode of storytelling and wrestling with the truth when voice and written word come up short. He hopes his video game-inspired piece makes the experience fun for the audience and performers alike.