Politically Charged Dance

In an enlivened performance, the Andover Dance Group and members of Fall Term’s Dance troupe (as a sport) intrigued and impressed the audience with a modern-based performance in the Arabesque Fall Dance Concert. The concert was divided into two separate portions. The first half showcased the choreography of the new Instructor in Dance, Erin Strong. After a short intermission, the ADG performed for a full thirty minutes straight, in Instructor in Dance Judith Wombwell’s work in progress titled “The Road,” which the group will perform this summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The opening piece, “B-Flat Society Blues,” featured innovative choreography during which dancers appeared as two-dimensional objects. The second piece, “Enduring Hard Times,” consisted of simple, elegant movements that complemented the hopeful tune of the accompanying music. Ms. Strong’s final piece, from the repertoire of renowned choreographer Donald McKayle, was “Rainbow Etude.” Performed to a traditional southern chain-gang song, the dance depicted the hardships of African Americans during the 1950s. “It was challenging for me to learn a piece where the choreography corresponded to the words of a song rather than the beat of the music, but it actually made the piece more effective because each move was made specifically to accentuate the words of the song,” said performer Renee Amirault ’07. Since the piece called for an intense level of emotion, Ms. Strong used unusual techniques to prepare the performance. Each dancer wrote a short paragraph about a situation that had caused her great anger or frustration. The dancers then ripped up the papers to channel their burdensome emotions. Amirault said, “The yellow papers helped us bring our personal struggles into the piece. This allowed me to concentrate while performing the piece on what it is that I struggle with and how I can show that to the audience while performing. I don’t think the piece would have been as effective if we did not first reflect on our own hardships and put our own lives into the piece.” “The Road” consisted of various sections, which combined to tell a story. In contrast to ballets, where the story lines are very deliberate, the plot of this collection was open to interpretation. During the question and answer session it was unanimous that the piece showed the temptations faced by citizens in America today- ranging from an obsession with war to the brainwashing effect of modern technology. The dancers had artistic freedom with the interpretation of the piece and were also given the opportunity to choreograph parts in duets and trios. “By having creative input when choreographing ‘The Road,’ we [the dancers] added some of ourselves to each part of the dance. Being able to personalize these pieces really helped make ‘The Road’ to everyone, since we were able to perform our own work,” said Mikaela Sanders ’08, a member of the ADG. One element in particular allowed “The Road” to stand out from the other performances at Andover: the technical work. Behind the dancers were magnificent projections that caught the attention of the audience. Assistant Stage Manager Abby Collela ’08 said,