Dance / Mosaic / Reviews / May 3, 2012

‘A Call to Rise’: Spring dance concert

The spring dance concert entitled “A Call to Rise” featured powerful story telling through dance, complete with creative lighting and costumes. Many of the pieces were from Dance Ensemble, a two-term academic course designed to create an experience similar to working in a professional dance company.

Dances were choreographed by Associate Professor and Chair of Dance Jennifer Smith and Assistant Professor of Dance Kathleen Ridlon, Tracy Von Kaenel of Aerial Dance Chicago and advanced choreography students seniors Brynn Oglivie and Jamie White.

The concert opened with “Other: Outside In,” with three screens forming a wall, dividing junior Kate LaRose from three other dancers. As if entering a new world, LaRose emerged from outside the screens to where the others were located, watching their sharp, angular movements with increasing curiosity. She slowly followed their movements as they became aware of her. They circle her and then disappeared as if they were swept away from the stage.

Senior Rachel Lyman put on a one-woman dance with “… you were wrong,” switching quickly from erratic motions to static positions. During the piece, which races across a spectrum of emotions, a voice narrated through the speakers. Lyman’s movements included collapsing into fetal position and lying supine as if depressed and transitioning to swaying violently from side to side. A single spotlight shone on Lyman before, startled, she suddenly got up and crawled away.

Next was “Sour,” with the duo seniors Emily Berkson and Erin McKinstry illustrating a push and pull relationship — literally. Attracting and repelling each other throughout, the piece was a juxtaposition between the two being enamored and repulsed by the other.

The two seemed deliberately disjointed while mimicking the same movement and yet dancing away from each other.

In another kind of relationship, “All Strings Attached,” choreographed by Oglivie, told the story of a puppeteer and his puppets, illustrating the helplessness and hopelessness of those controlled. In the beginning the puppeteer, played by senior Jaime White, controlled the movements and momentum of the dancers with invisible strings — if he pushes, they have no choice but to fall.

The relationship and the struggles of the puppets changed as White exited the stage and they slowly reanimated and moved themselves. A music box-like melody played while the puppets explored their new freedom of mobility, free from the strings. However, they were pulled back by White when he reappeared — their expressions of desperation hung on their faces as they are once again hung by strings.

Using techniques learned from workshops put on by dance company Aerial Dance Chicago, the piece “State of Being” revolved around a long piece of fabric draped in the center of the stage.

Seven dancers all took turns swinging and climbing on the fabric, sometimes with three using the sling at a time. Techniques featured in the dance included twisting on sling, appendages flying in all directions, as well as standing on it and pulling back the fabric as if about to shoot an arrow. “Stage of Being” was sure to be a highlight for many with its dynamic movements.

If the movie “Mean Girls” were remade into a dance, it would be “Things She Knew.” No music accompanied the piece but dialogue, repeated phrases and onomatopoeia conveying gossip and jealousy filled the silence.

Dancers Berkson, McKinstry and junior Kyla Tully played the part of “Mean Girls” well by dropping each other as they fell and, at one instance, even slapped each other.

“Scribe” was unusual in that it all took place on a circular platform no bigger than six feet in diameter. Sophomore Kelsey Witzling performed the dance in an almost mythical fashion during the intense dance. Her costume had long sleeves, which she used to add to her performance. She ended the performance by finally stepping outside the confines of the platform.

Choreographed by White, “Time Will Tell” played the sound of a clock ticking the entire time as dancers slowly walked from one end of the stage to another. Breaking from a pre-destined path, each of the five dancers took turns dancing around the others who looked straight ahead toward a bright light offstage. During their turn, the dancer would try to interact with the others, but to no avail, as they rejected his or her touch.

The last piece, “Heroine,” had seven dancers taking turns performing in two different groups. Like heroines, dancers positioned themselves in strong poses. This dance had the honor of being performed in March at the Midwest Regional Dance Festival in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Stirring the spirits and emotions of the audience, the story telling of “A Call to Rise” through dance moves more than minds and bodies.

Sheena Leano

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