“PULSE After Dark” showcased their second annual visual album in Choi Auditorium April 26. Maya Crawford (senior), co-president of PULSE, said the process of creating the visual album started in November and has been almost a year in the making. According to Natalia Guerra (junior), co-director of external affairs, the visual album is entirely created by students, from the choreography to the video editing.
“One thing I do want to stress about this visual album is that it is entirely student-produced, from the idea to collecting dancers,” Guerra said. “Choreographers are students, videographers are students, students edited it and then we present it in Choi.”
The album itself was diverse in its dance styles, ranging from hip-hop to contemporary pieces, according to Guerra. The group decided not to have an overall theme to the project, according to Michelle Levitt (senior), co-president of PULSE.
“At the start of the project, we decided that it could be neat to have a thematic concept, but ultimately it goes against the creative process we wanted to encourage and that PULSE stands for, so it’s a free for all,” Levitt said.
Guerra said the size of the performances fluctuated from large group performances to solo performances. According to Charlene Chen (junior), a choreographer of the visual album, the process started with an interest form sent to the club to find individuals who wanted to choreograph a piece. From there, other dancers in the group chose which performances they wanted to be a part of. Guerra said the club wanted to engage and involve all levels of dancing, from beginners to advanced dancers.
Chen’s choreography was a solo piece performed by Jessica Lee over the song “When the Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish. According to Chen, the style of the dance is more contemporary.
“It’s a really personal piece for me. The style I would say is more contemporary, lyrical, which is something I have not had a lot of training with,” Chen said. “It’s been something that I’ve picked up along the way and had a passion for, it wasn’t at all something I studied extensively.”
Another performance in the visual album was choreographed by Phoebe Patterson (senior), who is a member of PULSE. She said she was inspired when she heard the song “Caroline” by Aminé because it was reminiscent of some of her memories at Occidental, and she enjoyed the beat and energy of the song.
“Making something for the visual album was my way of contributing to PULSE after all the years of support the club has given me,” Patterson said via email. “I really just wanted to make something fun with my homies that I could look back on to remember how great the club was for me and how fun and stressless it was to dance, and so thankfully PULSE provided that creative opportunity.”
Crawford said the purpose of creating a visual album was to have a medium other than performance in the Occidental dance community. She said it was a different approach to performance that involved specific formatting and staging. Levitt said they also wanted to capture various spaces on and off campus, which would create a new way of perceiving campus.
“We have a lot of dance opportunities on campus but this is a different mode of approaching the creative process, as well as delivery,” Levitt said. “Videos are definitely perceived in a different way than, let’s say, a live performance, which for us was a fun, new space to explore.”
Guerra said they were inspired by other artists who released visual albums.
“Last year was our first year presenting a visual album. It was a creative project that we came up with. We had seen other professional dancers put together similar projects. Ian Eastwood, a dancer, had released a few years back. Beyoncé released her visual album, ‘Lemonade,’ a couple years ago as well,” Guerra said. “We talked about ways we could engage dance in a more creative way, in a capability people beyond our classes would be interested in.”
Chen said her piece was meant to be an external representation of her struggle with mental health.
“Basically, the meaning behind it is that I struggle with anxiety and depression and a lot of the time I feel like my mental illness is internal and so much a part of my inner world, so if you don’t know me well, based on outer appearance you wouldn’t know this is something I’m experiencing,” Chen said. “I wanted to create something that is a physical manifestation, tangible creation of what I experience on the inside.”
According to Levitt, PULSE is a space for weekly dance classes that are taught by students and for students, and “PULSE After Dark” is an extension of the club, which offers more dance opportunities to its members. The club meets every Wednesday night at 8:15 p.m. for its beginner class and at 9:15 p.m. for its intermediate classes and is followed by “PULSE After Dark.”