Arts Previews: Dance Open

Student performers embraced a variety of unpredictable dance routines en route to creating this year’s Dance Open performance. “We really wanted pieces that had strong choreography, and tried to pick pieces that were different,” said Carolyn Harmeling ’11, Dance Open Director. The Dance Open is a student run production that features 13 student-choreographed performances, which premiered this past Thursday in Steinbach Theatre. Due to the popularity of prior performances, this is the first year where the Dance Open will put on a weeknight performance. Blue Strut opens the show with a piece titled “How You Like Me Now?” choreographed by Harmeling and Juli Brandano ’12. The stage, blazing with red light and set with three chairs, welcomes the eight dancers of Blue Strut for an enthusiastic opening to the show. The group’s clean cut moves, spins and jumps exemplify their ability to combine new techniques and props into their performance. Shifting dramatically from the upbeat choreography of Blue Strut, Noël Um ’12 and Graham Johns ’14 glide onto stage to a more delicate tune. Dressed in a white tulle tutu and en pointe, Um gracefully spins into Johns’s arms. Throughout the performance, the two move in unison, utilizing the stage and demonstrating their strength and elegance with many lifts and jumps. Next, with sharp choreography and energetic movement, Katie Fanikos ’11, Kristina Rex ’11 and Amber Quinoñes ’11 take the stage. Performing “So Many Girls,” choreographed by Fanikos, the three utilize a variety of complex dance sequences and incorporate many lighting tricks that highlight their talent. A single spotlight illuminates moments of great intensity. Following “So Many Girls,” Bollywood music fills the theater for “Guzaarish,” a dance choreographed by Supriya Jain ’12 that features dancers Sophie Gould ’11, Saloni Jain ’13, Supriya Jain and Jenny Zhou ’11. The performance includes a variety of intricate hand gestures that punctuate the beat of the music and draw attention to the beautiful bracelets that adorn the arms of the dancers. “[The dance] is classified as Bollywood, but there’s a play on the music to add different themes, so the first half has an Arabian theme and the second has a Spanish theme, which I think is really cool because it’s like a normal Bollywood style with twists to it,” said Saloni Jain. Carolyn Whittingham ’11 changes the pace of the show, performing a solo titled “Walkin” set to the song “Walking After Midnight” by Patsy Cline. Whittingham utilizes the entire stage despite the lack of other dancers. Her piece includes many jumps and elegant leaps across stage that highlight her elegant costume and simplicity of her steps. Following “Walkin,” Brandano, Madeleine Kim ’12, Quinoñes and Georgia Pelletier ’11 perform “Slow Night, So Long,” choreographed by Brandano. The fast-paced choreography heightens the intensity of the show and gives the dancers an opportunity to toy with different dance techniques. The piece incorporates mirrored choreography and a range of light effects that add to the excitement of the dance. Opening with rain sound effects, the next performance acts out a love triangle between choreographers Zhou, Hector Kilgoe ’11 and Johns. The intimate dance features a series of complicated lifts and gymnastics that add to the drama of the depicted relationship. Although the dance begins by detailing a romance between Zhou and Kilgoe, Johns later joins the dance as the third leg of the love triangle. The dance describes the fighting over Zhou and ends with a humorous twist. Next up, SLAM commands the stage with a fierce performance of “Lose Yourself.” In addition to their intimidating costumes of hooded sweatshirts and jeans, SLAM fabricates a plot into their steps that builds up the complexity of their performance and heightens the sharpness of their performance. The next dance, “Steam Heat” choreographed by Rex, swings the show back in time to the jazz age. The nine dancers, all sporting derby hats, swerve stylishly in time to the catchy beat of the song. With flamboyant arm gestures and playful steps, this performance brings a vibrant edge to the show. “Empty House,” a solo by Pelletier pulls the audience into an eerie and ethereal world. Amongst the green glow of the stage, Pelletier elegantly showcases various ballet sequences, while keeping in sync with the sinister echoes of the music. Then Footnotes transforms the stage into a game of Pacman with their performance of “Pacman’s Revenge” choreographed by Melina Prentakis ’11. The dance narrates an intense and animated battle between five colorful ghosts and five Pacmans. The recognizable tune, electronic beats and skillful tap routine make this a truly unique dance. “It’s like Pacman come to life. [The Pacman] are fighting back and that’s why it’s called ‘Pacman’s Revenge’,” said Prentakis. Unwana Abasi ’13 changes up mood with “Simba’s City,” a duet with Zhou and Michael DiFronzo ’11. Matching in red, the two dancers depict a fighting scene with powerful movements and exciting lifts. The show ends with an overpowering performance “Lost in the World” by Hypnotiq. The dancers, uniformed in bright blue tops and dark masks, hit the stage one by one with fierce steps and complete coordination. The gripping performance mixes wavelike motions with robotic steps to match the song’s fast rhythm and electronic harmony. Although the production includes thirteen eclectic performances, the pieces come together seamlessly. “It’s a very well thought-out show. The director really thought about the order of the show and how they fit together so it is one cohesive show instead of just separate dances put together,” said Madeline Silva ’13. However, the production would not be complete without the assistance of stage manager, Anna Stacy ’13 and the sound and lighting technicians, who in this past week spent many hours enhancing and finalizing the show with special lighting effects. With months of hard work and this week’s intense daily rehearsals, the Dance Open troupe is geared up to put out four great performances this weekend. “I think that if everyone in the cast is happy with how they do then that’s what makes it a good show. I also hope that the audience likes it. It’s awesome. It’s just awesome,” said Harmeling. Be sure to attend one of the Dance Open showings this weekend for an hour of entertainment and excitement.