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MFA Thesis Choreographies by Master of Fine Arts candidates Jarrell Iu-Hui Chua and Christine Germain: two new works explore the realms of human touch and identity

MFA Thesis Choreographies: Two New Works Explore Realms of Touch and Identity at UC Davis

What: MFA Thesis Choreographies by Master of Fine Arts candidates Jarrell Iu-Hui Chua and Christine Germain: two new works explore the realms of human touch and identity.

When: Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 21-23 and Feb. 28-March 2, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 24 and March 3, 2 p.m.

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center, UC Davis

Tickets: General $17/19; Students, Children & Seniors $12/14

Purchase tickets: 530.754.2787 or 866.754.2787;

Press Release:

Feb. 5, 2013

UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to present MFA Thesis Choreographies: “Ligilo” by Jarrell Iu-Hui Chua, in collaboration with Bobby August Jr., travels through the worlds of memories, dreams and present realities to investigate touch and its effects on relationships; “Transmutation” by Christine Germain, in collaboration with Andrea del Moral and Deirdre Morris, examines questions of personal identity and shifts in identity. MFA Thesis Choreographies opens at Mondavi Center’s Vanderhoef Studio Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 21 and runs through Sunday, March 3.

The title of Jarrell Iu-Hui Chua’s work “Ligilo” means “link” in Esperanto, a language that represents the choreographer’s ethnic sensitivities. She and collaborator Bobby August Jr. are both “hapa,” a term that Chua lovingly uses to describe their half-Asian heritage. Their hapa experiences of prejudice growing up in America are a core element in the choreography as is personal trauma from which Chua is recovering.

Emanating from these painful themes, “Ligilo” portrays anger and violence as two performers, Chua and August Jr., physically connect and disconnect. Most emphatically, the piece explores the positive dimensions of human touch in erotic love, humor, tenderness and other aspects of humanity and healing. The spiritual touch of bathing a loved one conveys hope and tranquility. This is both the heart of “Ligilo” and the basis of its foreign title as Esperanto (literally meaning “one who hopes”) was intended to foster peace among peoples of differing cultures.

The dimensions of “Ligilo” are furthered by Chua’s use of long shreds of white paper forming a sea that the performers must navigate as well as creating a sculptural soundscape. “The paper represents the majority status quo that Bobby and I tried so hard to fit into,” explains Chua. “And the paper scenes express the confusing back and forth of rejection and self-rejection.”

“Transmutation” by Christine Germain in collaboration with Andrea del Moral and Deirdre Morris, also has an autobiographical base. The work draws from all three choreographers’ lives including French-Canadian Germain’s various experiences as an alien living in the U.S and other countries.

“Relocating a number of times, I found myself frustrated not speaking the language well, being misunderstood, and misunderstanding others,” said Germain. “Injuries also affected how I saw myself. I became sensitive to, and interested in, the shifting of identity occurring after trauma (both psychological and physical) which can be experienced in so many diverse ways.”

In “Transmutation,” three women, portrayed by Germain, del Moral and Morris, respond in different ways to identity changes including the learning or relearning of who they are and their relationships with others, space and the world. The work is largely formed by Germain’s study of Feldenkrais Method—an experiential system providing tools for self-observation through movement enquiry used to improve habitual and repetitive physical patterns. The audience is invited to participate in exercises along with the performers. This gives the viewer an opportunity to try on new perspectives, seeing and feeling elements of identity in fresh ways.

Both new works have benefited from the mentorship of professional choreographers Kim Epifano (visiting UC Davis lecturer) and Joe Goode (UC Berkeley professor). Each is enhanced with lighting design by Heather Basarab. Unique soundscapes are created by Gretchen Jude (through manipulated traffic sounds and voices) and the group Glou-glou for “Transmutations,” and by Cheryl Leonard for “Ligilo” through the use of recorded Antarctic ice sounds, movement through shredded paper, wine glasses and violin.

MFA Thesis Choreographies is rated R for nudity and violence.


Jarrell Iu-Hui Chua choreographs, performs, directs and devises physical theater, dance and video performance. She has presented her work at the San Francisco International Arts Festival, Apature, Asian American Dance Performances, ODC Summerfest, Yugen Presents, Somafest (L.A.), Highways Performance Space (L.A.), Sea Ranch and various site-specific locations in the U.S. and Europe. As a performer she has danced with Anna Halprin, Ledoh and Salt Farm, Dandelion Dancetheater, Headmistress, Plaza and Labayen Dance. Currently she is excited about developing projects with collaborators Terre Parker, Dan Kwong, Christine Germain, Bobby August Jr. and Maria Candelaria. Parker and Chua recently created a dance film that is touring internationally with Videoholica’s International Video Art Festival as a Special Selection Finalist. Chua has also received a grant with Susan-Jane Harrison from the Consortium for Women and Research for their work “Divided.” She is a graduating Master of Fine Arts candidate in Dramatic Art (Choreography) at UC Davis.

Christine Germain, UC Davis Master of Fine Arts candidate in Dramatic Art (Choreography), is a movement explorer, dancer, choreographer and Feldenkrais instructor. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in contemporary dance at Montreal’s Concordia University. In 2006, she moved to California and received a CA$H grant from Dancers’ Group and Bay Area Theatre. She created her company Christine Germain & Dancers as she became fiscally sponsored by CounterPULSE. She participated in the ODC Dance Pilot mentorship program, presented her work at the American Dance Guild Festival in New York City and was recently invited by Scott Wells to be an artist in residence at DanceGround Keriac studio in San Francisco. Germain was selected among artists worldwide to receive a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship in 2011. She was awarded Most Promising Choreographer at the 2012 Montreal Fringe Festival and received the UC Davis and Humanities Graduate Research Award for the 2012-13 academic year.



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