HomeStage: Performances of the Arts Will Go On

(Robert Canfield)

By Jess Taylor

DAVIS – On Wednesday night, the Mondavi Center hosted HomeStage, their first virtual event. Despite the current pandemic, this event gave students the opportunity to share their original, artistic talents from home or any other setting of their choice.

Opening the show, UC Davis Chancellor Gary May greeted the virtual crowd. He mentioned the importance of the Mondavi Center finding creative ways to bring forth productions to keep students engaged with the campus during the days of social distancing.

Denisha “Coco Blossom” Bland hosted the night with such enthusiasm and energy that it was as if there was an actual crowd before her. Throughout each performance, she maintained the same level of excitement, engaging with those watching the show from home.

Throughout the night, there were a variety of captivating performances. Ranging from solo artists singing with their guitars, to poetry, dancing, opera and bands playing in cluttered, tiny garages, the talent was diverse and individualistic. 

Delivering a well-produced video, Paul Willis created a spoken word about the injustice the black community faces. He stood on a blacktop frozen at a microphone with a shirt reading, “I Am Not a Criminal.”

Behind him, a Black teenage male began to dance interpretively as the track of the spoken word played with dramatic beats emphasizing the power of each word.

The artistic creation formed within Willis’ spoken word was amplified by the emotion the dancer conveyed. The words expressed the hardships the Black community faces in the way they feel inadequate because their culture is not accepted and is targeted by law enforcement. 

The dancer switched from break dancing to miming, to interpretive dance, resembling the struggle of changing to be accepted by society. Across his face, he wore the agony, defeat and despair the Black community feels on a day-to-day basis.

Another notable talent was UC Davis alumni, Katgrüvs. Not only did she play the guitar, but she altered viewers’ ideas of how to play. 

Staged in front of an old, abandoned building with rustic, barbed wire fencing surrounding her, she began her fingerstyle playing. Katgrüvs used a technique of hammering and picking the strings rather than holding them down and strumming. 

Alternate to this, one of her hands was tapping different parts of the guitar, producing different tones in the percussion. Using only one instrument, she made it sound as though there were a bassist and cajonist playing alongside her. 

Although she stood alone in an abandoned lot, her performance was not shy. Feeling the rhythm of her music, she bopped her head to the beat, swaying back and forth and squatting down before bouncing up as the rhythm intensified.

The sensation of her song, “No Wake Zone,” resonated travel and adventure. Its warm, polyphonic melody was more than uplifting; it was invigorating for the listener. 

In addition to gracing the Mondavi community with her talent, Katgrüvs released an EP titled, “Get Grüvy,” to further assist Davis students that have been impacted by the pandemic. All of the album’s proceeds will be donated directly to the UC Davis Medical Center COVID-19 Support Fund.

And giving the audience a futuristic atmosphere, Pablo Gomez displayed his electronic music abilities. With all the lights off and the camera centering his head in the frame, projection lights created wavelike motions.

His synthesizer began to make airy, bell-like beats that intertwined with soft sounds reminiscent of a video game. The track he performed had a trance-like quality to it.

The slow tempo was something one would hear in a futuristic movie or in the Netflix original, “Black Mirror.” To intrigue the audience more, the projected lights began to make all sorts of wild patterns.

Gomez crafted his skill of easing sounds into new ones. As short, choppy sounds were playing, they would dissipate into a longer, new synth sounds. As the sound of the song shifted, so did the images being projected. Although the song itself was slow, the production of it kept the audience on their toes.

The various forms of talent that filled the night brought back a sense of unity and belonging. Even through social distancing, the Davis community can still experience great production of the arts, together, thanks to the Mondavi Center. 

Those interested in live-streaming future events and performances can visit the Mondavi Center website for more information. 

Jess Taylor is in her senior year at UC Davis from a small town called Wheatland. She is finishing her studies in English and Human Rights.

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