Featured / Mosaic / Reviews / May 21, 2014

Student dancers will amaze this weekend

Dance Ensemble 2014’s show opens with drumbeats and high energy with a cast clad in sweatsuits: hoods up. This piece — “Gone 2 Soon” — was set by Vershawn Sanders-Ward during her company’s Red Clay Dance residency earlier this term. The movements are well synchronized, clear and dynamic: suggesting serious months of rehearsal for a piece so long. I had to remind myself that the residency was mere weeks ago. The minimalistic costuming allows the movement to speak for itself: these dancers love this piece. I love it, too, and look forward to seeing it again.

This year’s Dance Ensemble performance also features pieces by seniors Emily Diklich, Jmaw Moses and Kelsey Cullum created out of independent studies. The former’s piece is titled “with respect to” and involves dancers moving about axes taped to the stage. I’ve experienced math major Diklich’s choreography before. She’s exceptional with formations. This piece brings something more, though, because, instead of applying her math smarts to creating formations, her entire piece IS math.

Cullum’s piece was a contemporary trio that also included senior GraceAnne Roach and freshman Mary Blair. The beats of a Ratatat song are refreshing and the three demonstrate excellent musicality. Their physicality was on par as well: Cullum’s dancers frequently touch hands or rest upon each other in ways that require being in the right place at the right time. Well done.

Moses choreographed “The Human Project: Being” which uses the biggest cast of the whole show. While it’s not the most complicated in movement, there is a lot going on at the conceptual level with coordinating a cast of that size. I urge you to see it for yourself.

Moses also performs a solo choreographed by Professor of Dance Jen Smith. I don’t want to say too much to give anything away but I will say that it’s worth seeing. It’s spoken-word-meets-dance. Spectacular.

Professor of Dance Kathleen Ridlon’s pieces are very different. The first, titled “Rhythm People”, uses traditional and modern jazz music and invokes a loose-yet-serious air. While this piece seems intended as a more playful one, dancers seemed concentrated on the movement. Some missed a few steps but overall everything looked together (if a little visually busy). Her second piece closes the show and is, in my opinion, the stronger of the two. “Silk Shepard” has six dancers moving with three very large pieces of cloth. Props are hard to introduce in dance and these dancers nailed it. Ridlon and her cast have put together something very soothing and beautiful.

The second of Smith’s group pieces, “Uprising” is weird and a little creepy. It works because it’s properly executed and because junior Lara Brewner’s theatrics drive it home. An all female cast performs it in what look like wedding dresses and there’s a fog effect.

“Uprising” is in the second half but Smith’s first piece, “Keepsake,” comes smartly before intermission. It is a tear jerker made gut-wrenching by Professor of Music David Hoffman’s score: “For Lexie and My Knox Family” written to honor the life of Lexie Kamerman ’08. It was a major struggle for me to breathe normally throughout this piece.  I would say the dancers beautifully navigated it and its gravity hits home. According to Smith, her choreography was done in collaboration with the dancers. If you come to the Dance Ensemble show, come for this piece if nothing else. It will make you feel so much so deeply.

Camille Brown
Camille Brown is a junior majoring in English literature and double minoring in educational policy and journalism. Previously, she served as editor-in-chief of her high school paper and a reporter for TKS. She spent the summer of 2012 freelancing for The Peninsula Gateway and is currently pursuing an independent study concerning the media’s influence on education.

Tags:  choreography dance dance ensemble david hoffman independent study Lexi Kamerman music

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