Cal Poly Orchesis Dance Company to Present ‘Tabula Rasa’ Jan. 18-19 and 24-26

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Cal Poly Theatre and Dance Department will present the Orchesis Dance Company’s 49th annual concert “Tabula Rasa,” Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18-19, and Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 24-26, in the Spanos Theatre on campus. Performances will begin at 8 p.m. on all days, with a matinee scheduled at 2 p.m. Jan. 19.

“Tabula Rasa,” titled after a Latin phrase that is often translated as “blank slate,” will transform the Spanos Theatre stage into an open space. This year’s concert is conceived and directed by Associate Professor Christy McNeil Chand and assisted by Professor Diana Stanton and faculty member Michelle Walter.

“No drapes will mask the backstage areas; we’re cleaning the stage slate and broadening our performance space beyond the proscenium into the area known usually as backstage,” Chand said.

Production collaborators include lighting designer Clint Bryson, several students from the liberal arts and engineering studies program under the direction of Professor David Gillette, and guest choreographers.

Internationally-renowned choreographer David Dorfman and his wife, Lisa Race, created the closing work of the performance featuring all 29 company dancers. Texas Woman’s University Professor Matthew Henley created a modern piece for six dancers that explores what traces are left behind after shape and moments emerge then dissolve. Stanton focused on Carl Jung’s theory of neurosis and the shadow archetype to create her modern dance for 10 dancers. Walter’s ballet features 11 dancers on pointe as part of the Advanced Ballet Repertory course. In Chand’s contemporary jazz work, the dancers represent robots trying to express three different human emotions. The work of local guest artist Horacio Heredia will also be featured.

Truly embracing Cal Poly’s motto of Learn by Doing, five student choreographers will present choreography they created within the Orchesis class process. Aerospace engineering major Elizabeth Hawkinson, biochemistry majors Maile Crowder and Simone Bernsten, biology major Amy Penner, and architecture major Emily Chung have all embraced the theme utilizing ideas such as knowledge learned through travel, perception of the tap dance form, and shedding what has been learned to allow new knowledge to penetrate the body, mind and soul.

Tickets for “Tabula Rasa” are $20 for the public and $12 for students, seniors and children. They can be bought at the Performing Arts Center Ticket Office between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. To order by phone, call 805-SLO-4TIX (805-756-4849). Purchase online at

In addition to the Theatre and Dance Department, the performance is sponsored by Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts and the Instructionally Related Activities program.

— Cal Poly Orchesis Dance Company:
— Cal Poly Theatre and Dance Department:
— Cal Poly Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program:
— David Dorfman Dance:

Contact: Christy McNeil Chand
​​​​​​​805-756-6436 (o); 206-817-2963 (c)

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