The dance Gone to Return was inspired by research on the migratory pathways birds take as they circumnavigate the globe each year. Migratory birds seamlessly cross borders (even hemispheres), connecting very diverse and disparate countries around the world.
The underlying theme of the dance is the cyclical nature of a migratory bird’s life. In summer, hatchling birds leave the nest and are briefly nurtured by the parents. In autumn, they embark on a journey that takes them to distant and exotic places. If they survive, the following spring they return ‘home’ to initiate their own courtship and attempt at breeding. The annual cycle is complete and will repeat each season, year after year.
Our research on migratory birds, led by Dr. Allison Alvarado in the Biology program at CI, revolves mainly around mechanisms of speciation in birds and conservation of bird diversity. Our current projects include:
- Santa Rosa Island Bird Field Guide: Creating an introductory field guide to the birds of Santa Rosa Island (See interview with student Rebecca Smith-Gridley)
- Divergence and Expansion of Allen’s hummingbird: Assessing morphological divergence and characterizing the recent range expansion of the Allen’s hummingbird (See interview with student Katie Daniels)
- Conservation of least Bell’s vireo: Generating a population viability analysis for the least Bell’s vireo, an endangered bird that breeds in Ventura county and over-winters in Baja California
- Migratory connectivity project: Using genetics and isotopes from bird feathers to link breeding with wintering populations of Neotropical migrants
- Geolocator project: Using geolocators (data loggers attached to birds as ‘backpacks’) to physically track the locations (e.g. migration routes) of small passerines through the annual cycle
- Migratory divide project: Using a North American migratory divide in hermit thrushes to study the evolution of migratory routes and the current role of those pathways in divergence and speciation
The bird research team:
Allison Alvarado – an Assistant Professor of Biology who enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family
Rebecca Smith-Gridley – a senior who enjoys scuba diving, and will soon be backpacking across the country
Katie Daniels – a senior who enjoys photography, and spent last summer doing educational outreach with birds on the East coast
Alanna Overturf – a junior who has lived in Japan, has raised a hybrid bobcat, and excels at plant identification
Lissette Gutierrez – a junior who works as a student lab technician in biology, competes in karate, and ice skates
Shawna Brown – a sophomore who plays softball, loves predatory animals, and is going to Africa this summer
Pictures of the research team:
Allison Alvarado at the LA County Museum of Natural History checking out their hummingbird collection
Rebecca Smith-Gridley in the field, decked out with her bird song recording equipment
Alanna Overturf looking stoic while enjoying a hike down Lobo Canyon on Santa Rosa Island
Lissette Gutierrez looking fabulous without her lab coat, karategi, or dance leotard
Shawna Brown awake early and already on the Santa Rosa Island pier at sunrise
SRI Field Guide Sample Page by Rebecca Smith-Gridley:
Grace Akuna, Christina Brown, Colette Compton, Courtney Derrico, Kailin Doucette, Tracy Guevara, Elizabeth Pedraza, Krystal Belluomini Emily Grochowski, Chelsea Rueda, Yazmine Moreno
Director: Andrew Pearson
Andrew Pearson is a dancer and movement artist who has performed and studied both nationally and internationally. He received his BFA in Choreography and Performance from the University of California, Irvine. He is in his 5th season with the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, with whom he has traveled to Palm Springs, Florida, and New York City to perform. He has also freelanced with many LA-based companies including BodyTraffic, Nickerson-Rossi Dance, Claireobscure, and the Union Project Dance Company. Most notably, Andrew performed in Julien Previeux’s Award-Winning work What Will They Do Next in Paris and Malaga, Spain.
Andrew has created work and directed movement for a variety of mediums and venues, including many musical theater productions, opera, film, and countless concert dances. His original concert-dance work has been seen all over Southern California and he has been commissioned to create new work for the Collabo Youth Collective, Santa Monica College’s Synapse Dance Theatre, the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, and PGK Dance Project.
As a dance educator, Andrew has served on faculty at the The Wooden Floor, the Los Angeles Arts Collective, the Orange County High School of the Arts, and the Nuevo School of Contemporary Dance. He has also been hired as a guest instructor for numerous institutions including Riverside Ballet Arts, The Colburn School, The Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, PGK Dance Project, Malashock Dance, Parker Dance Academy, and Colorado Mesa University.