UTEP Annual Dance Concert Explores Dreams and the Subconscious

Originally published January 30, 2015

By Lisa Y. Garibay

UTEP News Service

What would it be like to watch the world of your dreams come to life on stage?

That’s the question being asked – and answered, in a very unique way – by Dreamscapes, the UTEP Department of Dance’s annual concert. It opens Feb. 6 at the Wise Family Theatre.

UTEP students Skye Adams, Barbara Bernal, Julian Maldonado and Gabriela Moreno in the annual Dance Department concert performance, “Dreamscapes,” which opens on Feb. 6 at the Wise Family Theatre. Photo courtesy of UTEP Department of Theatre and Dance.
UTEP students Bianca Gomez, Gabriela Moreno, Brandon Alba and Julian Maldonado in the annual Dance Department concert performance, “Dreamscapes,” which opens on Feb. 6 at the Wise Family Theatre. Photo courtesy of UTEP Department of Theatre and Dance.

The imagery of noted visual artists René Magritte, Salvador Dali and Remedios Varo explore the waking and sleeping realm of dreams and the subconscious, as do the writings of William Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe. With a grace that is a nod to its performers’ talent, the surreal and often very strange work by the noted Belgian and two Spanish artists is given an onstage interpretation by the dancers, who take the dreamy theme even further by acting out stories by the legendary British and American writers.

Accompanied by the music of French composer Ravel, the dancers explore the common themes that arise where we’re not conscious using evocative and well-crafted set pieces.

To manifest a realm this rich with sensory stimuli, Dreamscapes draws together a multidisciplinary team and resources from across campus. Original contemporary choreography by UTEP dance faculty is set within designs by UTEP’s technical theater program, the Office of Academic Technologies, and University-based visual artists and musicians.

Choreographers Lisa Smith, Myron Nadel and Andrea Vasquez contributed their creativity and professional expertise to the show.

Nadel characterizes “Schwan Break/Side Effects: A Production Nightmare,” his specific piece within Dreamscapes, as a satirical farce comparable to the satire one might see on Saturday Night Live or in a Mel Brooks movie.

“It is a story about a down and out ballet company that is being encouraged by an advertising executive to integrate sponsors’ live advertisements directly into their dances,” he said. “After initial wariness, the choreographer and his mother decide that their company needs to include the commercials to get the big bucks.”

His piece explores the concept of the nightmare – a darker side of the dream world – and was a reach for the dancers and creators to bring to life on stage.

“They play and dance with broad comic intent and adult content, something quite unusual in any dance concert,” Nadel explained.

Dancer and psychology major Skye Adams noted that pragmatic details such as not hitting walls of the on-stage set or getting comfortable with cameras and use of props were also a challenge. She and the team behind Dreamscapes have been working on the show since September 2014.

Given all the effort that has gone into it, Adams stresses that it’s a show not to be missed.

“All of the concepts, both the smaller pieces and the main pieces, are so great and well thought-out,” she said.

Adams and her fellow student performers are grateful they met other, professional artists – including the lesser-known yet greatly respected Spanish-Mexican painter Remedios Varo, who was a pioneer with her visual work and philosophical studies.

Dance major Gabriela Moreno was chosen for three of the four pieces within Dreamscapes and is honored to be performing for all three of her UTEP faculty mentors, especially in such a complex production.

“I think Dreamscapes has a certain uniqueness that I believe the audience will appreciate,” Moreno said. “Not only are we dancing of course, but video, live music and dialogue is included as well. It will show our community that we are expanding our boundaries beyond just dance and the importance of doing so.”

Moreno hopes that, in addition to keeping their minds open during the show, audience members also think about each piece and interpret them in a way that sheds light on their own dreams.

Each year, one full-time faculty member of the UTEP dance program takes the lead with the annual dance production. Vasquez had the privilege to direct the 2015 concert, which is titled after the piece she created.

“All of us, no matter how successful or sane we are deemed by society, have strong personal mythologies of self-image, aspiration, grief, joy, terror, community and sense of purpose,” Vasquez said. “Dreamscapes is a world where these mythologies are illuminated and celebrated.”

While the professor credits dancers with being open, committed, playful and disciplined, she is also careful to note that the production would have been impossible without other talents involved, including graduate music students Hannah Baslee and James J. Kaufman as well as projection designer and theatre major Zach Miles, costume designer Grace Bunt and lighting designer Rosa Gutierrez, all who are seniors within the Department of Theatre and Dance.

The rest of the Dreamscapes evening is rounded out by Smith’s pieces “Count Me In” and “Water Water.”

Dreamscapes will be performed Feb. 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 8 and 15 at 2:30 p.m. Call 915-747-5118 for tickets and more information.

All performances are at the Wise Family Theatre on the second floor of the Fox Fine Arts Center at UTEP. Visit onthemove.utep.edu for best parking options and routes to the theater.


General admission is $13; UTEP faculty and staff, seniors, military, groups (10+), alumni (with card) and non-UTEP students are $11; and UTEP students are $9. 


UTEP Alumni Night is Saturday, Feb. 7: Alumni with a valid alumni card are eligible for a buy-one-get-one free offer.

UTEP Faculty and Staff Night is Thursday, Feb. 12: UTEP faculty and staff with a valid ID are eligible for a buy-one-get-one-free offer.

Military Night is Friday, Feb. 13: Military personnel with a valid Military ID are eligible for a buy one-get-one free offer

El Paso City/County Employee Night is Saturday, Feb. 14: El Paso City Employees with a valid ID are eligible for a buy-one-get-one free offer.

GECU Employee Matinee is Sunday, Feb. 15: Employees with a valid ID are eligible for a buy-one-get-one free offer.