Journeys, the incredibly moving mainstage dance concert presented by the Knox Department of Theatre and Dance, ran from May 22 to 24 in Harbach Theater. The show included lots of student-designed costume, lighting, and choreography.
“It was invigorating and spoke to my artistic side,” said freshman Danielle Daly after the concert.
A jazz band led by Knox Director of Jazz Studies Nikki Whittaker performed as the audience filtered in during the half hour leading up to the show and accompanied the dancers during the first number, Jazz Suite. Jazz Suite was a colorful and energetic beginning composed of several smaller jazz nightlife scenes happening at once that were very entertaining overall. The number included most of the dancers (who had aided in the choreography of the piece) and even had a short break with an impressive tap trio.
After the band left the stage, the dancers silently crept back on for It Is Their Testimonies Alone that have the redemptive power to Save Us From Ourselves, a much more poignant piece in direction than the lighthearted Jazz Suite, ending with the “deaths” of all but one of the dancers. The bittersweet number was choreographed by senior Jessica Strache, whose choreography has been previously featured in the mainstage dance concert in 2007 and twice at the American College Dance Festival among other performances.
Following the long-titled number was Phoenix. Choreographed by Assistant Professor of Dance Kathleen Ridlon, the solo piece was performed by senior Bethany Vittetoe. Not only did Vittetoe perfectly mimic the movements of a bird learning to fly, but the dance seemed to embody the concept of rebirth. Combined with the lighting and music selection, Phoenix was very moving.
Before the intermission was Woobie, another emotionally intense piece that conveyed several relationships through four dancers with a solo part by junior Rayla Bellis. The soft lighting and old-fashioned costumes gave the piece an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia that added greatly to the overall emotional effect of the story being told. Woobie was choreographed by senior Megan Hall, who has also done choreography for mainstage concerts and has had work featured at the American College Dance Festival.
Postcards: Reflections on Travel was projected on a screen on stage following intermission. Set in France (judging by the music, which was from the films Amelie and Les Triplettes de Belleville), Postcards: Reflections on Travel was filmed in several locations, including a busy street, a train station, and at a fountain. The dancers interacted differently with their environments, sometimes playing with what is conventionally considered to be “dance” and using the rhythms of everyday life for expression. The piece was incredibly creative and left the audience with the sadness that one must experience upon returning home from travel.
Fun without being frivolous, the last solo piece, Again & Again, was well-performed by sophomore Kate Cochran. Choreographed by Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance Jennifer Smith, the number was performed to music by the Kronos Quartet and Jimi Hendrix intermixed with text from the film Easy Rider. This unlikely combination of sound greatly added to the almost rebellious nature of the piece.
The pace slowed with Isabella, which was student-choreographed by senior Natasha Kristina Robin. The dance was performed by only three dancers with sophomore Cassidy Bires as a soloist. The concert finished with Proteus Burp, which began quietly before literally taking off. The fastest and most acrobatic of the dances performed, Proteus Burp was choreographed by Tracy Von Kaenel of AMEBA Dance and demonstrated the skill with which the dancers were able to work with each others’ energy and move as one. The number was a relief to end with after several tear-jerking, sentimental pieces.
“I thought it was a good blend of everything . . . a good climax of the whole year,” said senior Patrick Cogar.