Arts & Culture

Student dancers move bodies and audiences

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, November 22, 2010

Students wow at the Fall Dance Concert sponsored by the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies.

In the intimate space of the darkened Ashamu Dance Studio, the only sound to be heard was the patter of bare feet on the stage.

A packed audience waited excitedly for the lights to come up and the first steps to be taken at this year’s Fall Dance Concert, sponsored by the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies.

Weaving together a wide array of dance styles, including hip-hop, contemporary and tap, the Fall Dance Concert was a celebration of student choreography. Every piece was not only performed by students, but also created and developed by them, said Julie Strandberg, senior lecturer in theatre arts and performance studies and producer of the concert.

Though the concert mainly featured dance companies as a whole, the show was really about independent student choreography, Strandberg said, adding that she strongly encouraged individual choreographers to perform their pieces as well.

Strandberg referred to the production as a “mentor show” because of the department’s role in supervising it and suggesting ways for students to convey their ideas to the audience more clearly.

The first piece, entitled “Coming Home,” was a contemporary performance by Attitude Dance Company. The fluidity and grace with which the dancers entered and exited the stage was a delight — the constant comings and goings teased viewers’ eyes, forcing them to jump from dancer to dancer.

When the pulsating beats of Far East Movement’s song “Like a G6” came over the speakers, it became abundantly clear that Fusion’s “Like a Friend Mikey” was going to be a completely different affair. Combining hard-hitting moves with more lyrical styles, this hip-hop routine was high energy, pumping up audience members so that they bobbed their heads to the bounce and flow of the piece.

Fusion performed three other routines, which showcased the group’s versatility. “Chance Encounter,” a duet between choreographers Dan Lurie ’11 and Joelle Murphy ’11, was simply beautiful to watch, as their support of each other and grace on the stage came together to create a truly moving contemporary work about the pair’s give-and-take relationship.

In “Bleeding Love,” the chemistry between the dancers electrified the audience as the male lead danced with each of his three female co-stars, systematically winning and breaking their hearts. In the end, though, the player got played as the girls left him on stage without a backward glance.

Fusion’s final piece, “Hang With Me,” was a huge group number that fostered organic movements and showcased the raw talents of the group members.

An amazing performance by Doug McDonald ’13 and Perri Katzman ’14 showcased the pair’s sheer athleticism and strength. Dancing on the ground is one challenge, but these two raised the bar by taking their routine to the sky — performing completely off the ground on a bar and a hoop, both suspended from the ceiling. They gracefully created the most intricate shapes with their bodies and completed some moves that would surely make any gymnast green with envy.

The concert also featured numbers by Amira Belly Dance Company and Brown Badmaash. Both groups could be heard long before the lights went up, as their jingling costumes gave them away. The bright splashes of color and technically challenging movements of each group made the performances memorable. A particular standout was Adam D’Amico ’11, who meshed with his female counterparts in Amira spectacularly and showed off some excellent moves amidst an entertaining number.

One group chose to forgo music altogether in favor of busting out a tight beat with their feet. What’s on Tap? performed perfectly in synch despite the company’s large size — 10 dancers. They moved about the stage, created formations and all the while kept the rhythm.

The concert also featured a piece from Brown University Movement Experiments, which combined dance with acting and speaking. “Memory/Translation,” performed to a voiceover in Chinese, relating stories of the Chinese Civil War, was visually compelling. The three dancers performed staccato, disconnected movements brought together by common threads and similar moves. The dance felt like a memory — thoughts flitted and moved across the mind, like dancers across the stage, in disjointed patterns, coming together create a story. The dancers asked, “Do you remember?”

Performances from imPulse Dance Company, Attitude, Extension and the Aerial Arts Society rounded out the concert, giving the audience a taste of conventional and lyrical hip-hop, contemporary routines and even a lyrical scarf dance.

Nicole Taykhman ’11, who choreographed a lyrical hip-hop piece for Attitude, said this year’s concert was exceptional for both quality and diversity of dancing and was very pleased with the high turnout — every concert was sold out.