Anyone who's spent time at The Che Café, UCSD's radical, volunteer-driven, underground art-and-performance space, knows that highbrow dance isn't the kind of thing you see there—that is, unless you consider vegan-lentil-fueled moshing to 14 hardcore bands to be highbrow dancing.
Patricia Rincon Dance Company has undertaken the task of transforming the Che into a space filled with movement, color and San Diego history with The Myth Project: Altar, an original dance piece performed as part of La Jolla Playhouse's inaugural WOW (WithOut Walls) Festival, which brings site-specific theater and dance to locations around the city.
For the dance piece, Rincon teamed up with the Che Café Collective and muralist Mario Acevedo Torero—who created the murals at the Che in 1993 as a gift to political activist Angela Davis, as well as some of the murals in Chicano Park—to create a dance that tells the lively history of the scrappy venue.
"I've been going to UCSD a long time as a student and as a teacher," says Rincon, who's currently the head of UCSD's Dance Department. "The Che Café has always been in my life. It's the only radical, youth-driven collective that is independent from the university, which is very, very rare."
For Rincon, the Che provides a great deal of inspiration. She says that by simply walking around and looking at the literature left out for visitors, she feels the energy of the space.
"I've been going to Che Collective meetings, and meeting the collective themselves, and telling them I was interested in the spirit of the history, in terms of what the Che has been," she adds. "They are really a hotbed of asking questions about activism. It can be gay rights, animal rights; it can be security, government. The activism is very strong. So, I told them I would like to embody this work—'I'd like to do a dance theatre work about what you believe in'—and they were really excited by it."
Fifteen dancers, both students and professionals from the Rincon company, will tell the tale of the Che by taking over the entire space, both indoors and outdoors, with the audience following along on foot. Projected text taken from pamphlets found at the Che and sections of spoken word from Torero will drive the story. Torero will also refurbish and update his murals as a "re-birth" throughout the concert's run. They'll honor the space's political ethos with music from Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead, Fat Freddy's Drop, an original soundscape score and live violin.
There'll also be sideshows happening throughout the event, with musicians playing live music, altar building and other surprises.
The audience, Rincon says, "is going to be taken on a little ride, an adventure."
The concert will be filmed for a documentary about The Che Café that Rincon is currently working on. Performances will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Oct. 3 and 4, and Sunday, Oct. 6, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. Tickets ($25) can be purchased at lajollaplayhouse.org.
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