Dance / Mosaic / Reviews / May 25, 2011

Terpsichore turns up the heat

Performed for a brimming audience in Harbach Theater last Friday and Saturday night, Terpsichore’s spring dance concert “Heat Index” offered up a diverse program; from a charming depiction of the neurological process to a scantily clad samba, there was pretty much something for everyone.

Watching the concert’s opening dance, “A Hard Day’s Knight” choreographed by seniors Timmi Schmeling, Zak Kahn and Jae Hyoung, was like being transported back to an elementary school playground in the midst of a rousing game of Jedis vs. Storm Troopers. Dressed up like first-graders on Halloween, a chaotic miasma of dancers swarmed the stage in this re-imagining of George Lucas’s “Star Wars.” Clumsy, yet entertaining, this dance was an appropriate opening for an overall playful performance.

Another playful piece was “Playdate,” a dance choreographed and performed by freshmen Kelsey Cullum, Evelyn Langley and Kelsey Witzling. Performed to The Kings of Convenience’s “I’d Rather Dance With You,” this dance felt as though it should have taken place on a playground as well with Cullum, Langley and Witzling all donning overalls and pigtails. Cullum said the piece “was conceived one day when Evelyn brought in overalls as a joke,” and the concept just took off from that point on. With an excellent mix of technical precision and light-hearted subject matter, this dance was an audience favorite.

“It was just so well danced and adorable,” sophomore Amanda Lee said. “You couldn’t help but smile.”

Yet “Heat Index” also had its fair share of more melancholy contemporary pieces. One of these was junior Laura Mogilevsky’s “Sometimes I Catch Myself Repeating Myself.” Danced to Arcade Fire’s hauntingly barren melody “My Body is a Cage,” with the dancers reaching for and clinging to each other, this dance articulated an aching sense of limitation and loss. Another of these dances was the ironically named “Sweet Tooth,” choreographed by seniors Chalia Bellis, Leslie Kang and Angie Rosa. Opening with strobe-light flashes that projected looming shadows on the stage backdrop, this dance was imbued with a sense of desperation. These seasoned dancers, dressed in oversized, moth eaten sweaters, skillfully twitched like junkies across the stage, each jerk of their limbs expressing a mounting sense of desolation.

However, not all of this term’s dances were so conceptually well realized as the ones mentioned above. “Miles Apart,” a contemporary piece, involved a shoe, which after sitting unreferenced on stage for most of the dance, was put on by Bellis before she exited the stage. This prop choice left many in the audience baffled.

“It was very well danced,” commented sophomore Moira Byrne. “I just didn’t quite understand the point of the shoe.”

Another dance that left many wondering was the aptly named “gl;kjsf;lahsg.” After a few minutes of dancing, all the dancers sat down to watch a man in a monkey suit force a man in a cow suit into a cardboard box. While some laughed at these antics, many just shrugged their shoulders. One dance, “Carnaval Caliente” choreographed by seniors Caroline Castro and Shanna Collins, was more scandalous than it was confusing. There were no warnings given out before the burlesque piece, “Tall Feathers with Mama Des Jambes’ Chic Coop,” featuring the Gizzard Gobblin’ Boys. Last year, the ladies of “Carnaval Caliente” bore a little skin, stripping down to their lingerie in this scintillating samba. Though far from last year’s gratuitous strip tease, barring any significant choreography, this piece amounted to little more than the dancers shimmying around in their underwear.

Taking both the good and the bad, Terpsichore’s “Heat Index” was overall successful in providing enjoyable entertainment for its jam-packed audience. If you enjoy dance, presented with a smörgåsbord of selection ranging from light-hearted romps to moody contemporary pieces, it was difficult for anybody to leave Harbach Theatre unsatisfied.

Molly Lenox

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