Among the numerous dance performances that take place at Knox every year, Terpsichore is perhaps unique in that it allows the audience to see student choreographers’ work and how it changes over time. This term was no exception. Featuring work from both experienced and first-time choreographers, Terpsichore’s spring concert was a blend of styles that came together to make, for the most part, a very strong collective.
The first dance, “In this connection, the world has a different meaning,” was a modern piece choreographed by sophomore Brynn Ogilivie. The dancers moved with a tired energy that communicated sadness. Technically and choreographically strong, the work was very different from Ogilivie’s previous dances, which featured heavy drill influences and sharp, clean movements. It was an interesting new direction for her work to take and one that definitely succeeded.
Modern dance, although not dominating Terpsichore in the way it has occasionally in past shows, was frequent throughout the performance. Sophomore Hayley Schueneman’s piece “Thought Process” displayed some of the strongest choreography in the show, with the dancer’s movements fitting nearly seamlessly to the music. “The Hustle,” choreographed by sophomore Laura Mogilevsky, had an intriguing slinky feel, although dancers sometimes had difficulty maintaining unity.
A new dance this term was a series of ‘commercials’ choreographed by sophomore Jamie White. Rather than one long piece, the dance presented as a series of three 30-second segments in which the dancers attempted to sell the audience chap stick, perfume and iPods, while White pretended to watch them on the television before being convinced to buy their product. The pieces offered humor and variety and were a refreshing segment between longer dancers.
A crowd (and my) favorite was choreographed as part of a yearlong honor’s project. Senior Lauren Assaf developed a swing piece in conjunction with her outside examiner, Chris Van Houten. As two dancers who knew the style of swing, knew how to respond to a partner and obviously loved what they were doing, the pair took over the stage and left the audience breathless and wanting more.
Less appealing was the burlesque dance, “Tall Feathers with Mama Des Jambes’ Chic Coop, feat. The Gizzard Gobblin’ Boys,” choreographed by sophomore Anna Witiuk. After multiple warnings that the piece was for ‘mature audiences only,’ the dancers proceeded to essentially strip onstage. Depending much more on shock appeal than actual dancing, the piece went on for far too long.
A nice mix of styles was evident in senior Joyce Omondi’s piece, “Twende!” Pulling from African, modern and several other dance genres, dancers exploded off the stage more times that was possible to count, and live drumming was incorporated into their piece. Senior Lauren Scott’s piece, “Blame it on the Jazz and Liquor,” had a silly 20s-era feel about it and was comically successful as dancers waved tree branches and tire wheels to perfectly communicate the feeling of out-of-control driving. Senior Jess DeMory produced another hard-hitting hip-hop dance, finding the underlying beat in the song and then exploiting it to its full effect. Although she has choreographed in this style many times before, each of her dances maintains a uniqueness and energy.
Overall, Terpsichore delivered variety, entertainment and skill. Although pieces occasionally stumbled or went on too long, the group put on a performance that was well worth watching.