‘Bodies and Ink’ celebrated National Banned Books Week with performances

Audience walks through student performance of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" in the first floor hallway of the Learning Resource Center. / Zara Flores

Audience walks through student performance of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” in the first floor hallway of the Learning Resource Center. (Zara Flores / Lariat)

The dance, music, speech and theatre arts departments presented the “Bodies and Ink” performance in the Learning Resource Center at Saddleback College to celebrate National Banned Books Week on Friday.

Diedre Cavazzi, artistic director, acted as a guide and led the audience through all three floors of the LRC, showcasing student and faculty performances.

There were 11 pieces in total ranging from children’s books to classics and were all pieces of literature that were either banned or challenged in the past. The performance also features an original piece composed by Scott Farthing.

“I wanted there to be variety. We wanted to appeal to the audience,” Cavazzi said. “This [the library] is a space where we associate study, books, reading so to actually take a work that’s all based on banned literature and to set it in the library instead of on a stage seems absolutely appropriate.”

The crowd was able to immerse themselves into the performances given they weren’t limited to seats. The pieces varied display; some on bookshelves or staircases surrounded by the audience, others more private and intimate, being peered in on by the audience, and others where the audience moved through.

The audience had a unique viewing experience. It was all designed to be ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) accessible and audiences are kept to a maximum of 50 people to allow every individual the fullest experience.

The production was 80 minutes long but one of this magnitude and complexity took a year to prepare.

“One year ago I started setting up meetings and getting permission to use the space,” Cavazzi said. “I had to meet with all of the deans, get permission, write up proposals and I had to get approval from the college and permission from campus police [for rehearsals].”

Cavazzi started planning Bodies and Ink last October and had her auditions in May. The dancers were cast and began rehearsals in July, when the LRC was closed on weekends.

While rehearsing and creating all the pieces’ choreography, Cavazzi spoke with the dancers and they all took the time to understand the literature they were working with.

“We’ve all danced together numerous times, we’re like a big family,” Ashanti Robinson said, one of the dancers. “We wanted to bring these stories to life through emotions and music. And Diedre really inspired up… she was tough love. ”

Some pieces were more graphic than others and Cavazzi was sure to offer a disclaimer before those pieces.

“I wanted to do ‘Speak’ to try to tell other peoples’ stories… and have people open up, seek help, not hold anything in,” performer and dancer Marissa Guillen said.

Robinson and Guillen shared the goals for this event as well as praising the efforts of Cavazzi.

“We wanted to bring the community together and celebrate books and literature,” Robinson said. “She was tough love.”

“Diedre really inspired us and pushed us,” Guillen said. “She sees that we have a certain standard and sometimes we don’t see it but she can, in us. ”

“We wanted everybody to be excited… and to make all of this possible, the Angels of the Arts, a scholarship organization, gave me the funding so I could put this on,” Cavazzi said. “Otherwise, it’s very hard to mount something like this that spans multiple departments.”

The final performances of Bodies and Ink will be Oct 7 and 8 at 7:30 pm and Oct 9 at 2:30 pm in the LRC. Tickets are available online or at the door.