Drop What You Know

The theme of this year’s student-run Dance Open is “drop what you know.” Director Sayer Mansfield ’10 encouraged student choreographers to leave their comfort zones, try unfamiliar styles of dance and to experiment with new movements and formations. The Dance Open opened Thursday night in Steinbach Theater and will run through this weekend. The four performances sold out as early as Tuesday. “The Dance Open is probably the most popular dance show of the year,” said Jenny Zhou ’11. “It’s just a fun opportunity to get involved with dance on campus, even if you haven’t tried it before. People come to see their friends dance and to see the dances their friends have choreographed. The dances are so different—there’s something for everyone.” The first dance of the show is “Drop Your Socks,” choreographed by Brenna Liponis ‘10. The lights go up on five dancers, dressed in deep purple and edgy metallic. Their faces are hidden by masks, adding to the dark and intriguing feel of the dance. The dancers move effortlessly and with great charisma, seamlessly mixing hip hop and jazz. “[Brenna’s piece] is very energetic,” said Rochelle Wilbun ’13. “It will be exactly what the crowd needs to get hyped up.” Chanel O’Brien ‘10 mixes it up with “Fun House,” a techno dance filled with robotic movements. The six dancers in her piece wear neon-colored tees and sparkly silver leggings. The music is “Let Me Think About It,” a funky electronic sounding song by Fedde le Grand and Ida Corr. Clad in black with red roses in their hair, the ladies of Blue Strut perform a fiery “Assassin’s Tango.” The piece builds in intensity, starting with only a few dancers on stage and ending with the entire group in unison as the drum beat mounts dramatically. Sexy and striking, this is Blue Strut at its best. Jennifer Chew ‘10 creates a fairy woodland with her piece, “In the Moonlight.” The music is a piece by Johannes Brahms, making this dance unique in its classical soundtrack. The dancers whirl about the stage in pastel-colored dresses, ending in arabesque with their legs extended behind them. Lizzy Goldsmith ‘11 and Angelica Jarvenpaa ‘11 choreographed a dance about the Seven Deadly Sins. Each dancer represents a sin and dances accordingly onstage. Noël Um ’12, for example, symbolizes pride and moves with haughty attitude. The dancers don ripped black shirts with colored tank tops underneath. The music is a sinister music box tune that gives the dance a creepy vibe. “Hurricanes,” choreographed by Rachel Zappala ’10, is an unusual mix of heavy metal rock music and delicate pointe dancing, while “Twisted Intent,” choreographed by Shannon Callahan ’12, is a fluid hip-hop and jazz duet between Maya Odei ’12 and Gabbie Cirelli ’12. Melina Prentakis ’11 choreographed an upbeat and fun routine called “Does Your Mother Know?” to music from the ABBA musical “Mamma Mia.” Though the four dancers are all female, two pretend to play males, dressed in baggy tee shirts and jeans. This peppy dance about two couples fuses hip-hop, musical theater and jazz styles of dance and incorporates some funky partnering. Footnotes, Andover’s tap group, has a dance-off competition in “Step it Up,” choreographed by Sumi Matsumoto ‘11. Sporting brightly colored tank tops with black splatter paint, the dancers split into two groups and challenge each other to battle. The piece takes a dramatic turn when Katy Svec ‘10 enters with a jump rope and proceeds to perform several impressive tricks, including one in which she jump ropes from a sitting position with her legs extended in front of her. Soon, more dancers are bouncing to the beat with glowing jump ropes. The dance concludes with a final pose center stage, the dancers holding up their jump ropes triumphantly. Zhou choreographed a magical duet between Hector Kilgoe ’11 and Matsumoto. “The story is about forbidden love,” said Zhou. The dance is technically difficult, involving many lifts, and quite emotional. A crisis arose on Tuesday, however, when Matsumoto, who dances in numerous pieces, injured her foot. She is uncertain whether she will be able to perform this weekend. Other dances include a fierce Hypnotiq piece, an edgy tap duet between Kristina Rex ’11 and Katie Fanikos ’11 and much more. Dancers and non-dancers alike auditioned for the Dance Open late in the Fall Term. Choreographers observed the open audition and requested dancers to be in their pieces. Once the cast list had been posted, dances met in the evenings and on weekend mornings to rehearse. There were two “check-points,” in which Mansfield and Erin Strong, Instructor in Theater and Dance, watched the dances-in-progress and gave feedback to the choreographers. Zhou said this was the first year she can remember in which every dance made it into the final show. Last year, a few dances were cut from the lineup because of time constraints. “I’ve been in [the Dance Open] every year since freshman year… it’s a part of my Andover experience,” said Rachel Zappala ’10. “You spend all term working on it. After all the hours and hours of rehearsal, all the hard work is paying off this weekend.” Carolyn Whittingham ’11 is the stage manager for the production. “It’s a huge time commitment,” said Whittingham. “I needed to learn how all the technical equipment of the theatre works.” Mary Polk-Bauman ’11 is the Assistant Stage Manager, Joanna Wang ’11 is the Light Board Operator and Christie Whalen ’11 is the Sound Board Operator for the event. Choreographers requested different colored lights to portray the mood of their dance. Some pieces require more than ten light changes, keeping the tech team on their toes. “I need to watch every dance closely to know when to give warning for an upcoming light cue,” said Whittingham. Having spent every night this week in tech rehearsals, the cast of the Dance Open is ready for show time. “I’m excited because it’s just going to be an amazing performance,” said Wilbun. “The Dance Open brings unlikely things together… exploring and mixing unlikely people, props and space,” said Matsumoto.