Institute of New Dance & Cultures Hosts Festival of Creative Expression


Institute of New Dance & Cultures Hosts Festival of Creative Expression
The university's Institute of New Dance & Cultures will host its annual festival on May 26.
This year's Festival of Doors will include dance performances, music presentations, improvisations, visual art installations and performance art.

There just might be 200 pails lined up on the lawn. Or not. Gayle Fekete isn't sure. It's happened before, but one never knows what innovative, unexpected, funny, dramatic, enigmatic or simply beautiful expressions of art will be on display on Thursday, May 26, during the university's Festival of Doors.

As part of an annual celebration of creative expression, various ethnicities and the arts, the university's Institute of New Dance & Cultures is again hosting a campuswide performance. The event will take place from 5-7:30 p.m. in University Park.

“Visitors walk through the campus, and there will be three or four predetermined performances by the institute faculty and students from various departments,” says Fekete, the institute's director.

There will be dance performances, music presentations, improvisations, visual art installations, performance art and “maybe 200 pails on the lawn,” she says.

This year's theme is doors, and that leaves it, ahem, wide open for interpretation, she says.

“Some of it will be high art, and some of it will be low art, but it all will be clever.”

As part of the institute's community outreach, the festival includes artists from Southern California and beyond, as well as students and faculty.

The Festival of Doors and its multidisciplinary, think-outside-the-box approach reflects the institute itself. With an emphasis on modern and multicultural dance forms, says Fekete, the university has set itself apart from other California State University dance programs, which tend to focus on traditional dance training.

Some of the known highlights at the festival will be performances by the institute's students, including its permanent dance ensemble comprised of six dancers. Recently, the ensemble was selected to perform in the gala performance and received the title of regional finalists for the American Dance Festival — quite an accomplishment for a non-traditional dance program, says Fekete.

“Ours is not a conservatory-style dance program. It reflects our campus's diverse, polytechnic population.”

This means that many of the students who minor in dance at Cal Poly Pomona go on to weave it into a career not normally associated with the art form.

“We have students who study dance here who become very innovative math teachers. Hotel and restaurant majors understand the value of the arts in entertaining and presentation,” says Fekete, who joined the university in 1986 and is a professional modern dancer and choreographer. “In fact, we have a great relationship with the architecture department – the way architecture looks at how people move totally relates to us.”

Which brings us back to the Festival of the Doors. Fekete suspects the presentation made by the architecture students may be more literal than, say, that of the ethnic& women's studies students who might approach projects with more subjectivity.

“Maybe the architecture students will set up actual doors,” she laughs. But her creative instincts kick in when she goes on to suggest they do a “memory” door or a “cultural identification” door, as the interdisciplinary process reveals the direction projects will take.

“That's the interesting part about the festival,” she says. “For the viewer and festival participants, things unfold along the way.”