Dance Open Showcases Student Choreography

With spirited tap, classic ballet and interpretative dance pieces, individual student choreographers and student dance organizations presented a variety of dances in different styles this weekend at Dance Open.

“The choreographers in this year’s Dance Open really stepped up to the plate in terms of creating diverse pieces to showcase in the performance. Having participated in the Dance Open for four years, I think that this year’s show brought the most energy and high-level choreography that I have seen during my time at Andover,” said Noël Um, Student Director of Dance Open, in an e-mail to The Phillipian.

Um worked with Erin Strong, Instructor and Chair in Theatre and Dance, to produce Dance Open, an annual dance performance that presents student-choreographed and produced dances.

Footnotes, Andover’s student tap group, performed “Big Bad Voodoo Daddies,” choreographed by Brianna Barros ’12 and Malka Berro ’14. The performers tapped intricate rhythms as they danced to as they danced to the upbeat music.

“The Dance of Envy,” choreographed by Supriya Jain ’12, featured an energizing and powerful dance to “Acapella” by Bikram Ghosh and “Dheem to Dhare” from “Takshak.” The dance was performed under constantly changing lights, adding another layer of intensity to the routine. Bells attached to each dancer’s costume and feet enhanced the dance.

“After Hours,” was choreographed by Suzanne Wang ’13 to more contemporary music, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” The push and pull feeling of the piece mirrored the relationship described in Gotye’s song.

Blue Strut brought visible energy and passion to the stage in their performance titled “Home,” choreographed by Julia Brandano ’12 and Madeleine Kim ’12.

“I really liked the Blue Strut piece and I think Julia [Brandano] and Maddie [Kim] did a great job with the choreography. That was probably my favorite piece,” said Deena Butt ’12.

“Remix,” choreographed by Emmie Avvakumova ’14 and Emily Ewing ’14, illustrated the contrast between a modern dancer and a ballerina. Ewing and Niya Zulu ’15 mirrored each other’s dance moves, albeit in their own respective interpretations of dance.

Borkeny Sambou ’12, Cherita Moore ’12 and Unwana Abasi ’13 choreographed Hypnotiq’s contribution to Dance Open, titled “Murder to Excellence.” Hypnotiq dancers were an intimidating and powerful crew, dressed in black tanks and cargo pants.

“Circus,” choreographed by Abriana Mayer ’14, provided a colorful and fun element to Dance Open with multi-colored costumes and dramatic light changes.

Contrasting with “Circus,” the fast-paced, Barros and Graham Johns ’14 choreographed and performed the aggressive piece “Away From the Shore.”

Johns said, “We were trying to display the tension in a relationship and what happens when you reach that exploding point.”

Seika Negao ’12 choreographed “Explosive.” All of the dancers performed different moves that complemented each other, and occasionally came together in synchrony.

“Collateral Damage,” choreographed by Johns, featured Um. The piece was graceful, moving smoothly with the music.

“I picked the music before deciding what the dance would be about. I got a lot of inspiration from my music. I knew that I wanted it to be a neoclassical dance, but I wasn’t sure of what type and the music helped guide me. Like George Balanchine, I didn’t feel it necessary to put a storyline behind it. I wanted the audience to feel the movement as opposed to seeing a story that was built behind a dance,” said Johns.

Madeline Silva ’13 choreographed a piece titled “Young Blood.”As performers danced to the music, they seemed emotionally connected to the dance.

Shannon Callahan ’12 choreographed “Mirror, Mirror.” The piece was a more interpretive addition to Dance Open, as dancers Nagao and Nikki Shen ’12 created a mirror-like division between themselves. Nagao and Shen were able to artfully play off of each other’s dance moves.

A performance by SLAM titled “Stop! Slamming Time” followed “Mirror, Mirror.” The piece captured SLAM’s typical power and combined it with a more playful vibe.

“It was fun to be more playful for a little while and it gave SLAM more character. The captains got to really show their creative side,” said Chiamaka Okorie ’13.

The Dance Open finale was a hilarious rendition of an “Austin Powers” dance performed by all participating dancers.

Auditions for the Dance Open began last term. Dancers were cast and choreographers began creating their dances this term.

“Producing the show was a lot more difficult than I expected it to be-I had to organize more than 50 dancers, cast them in pieces, organize the rehearsal schedules, give feedback for improvement and choreograph the finale,” Um said in an email to The Phillipian.

“I think the show was a huge success. There were a variety of different types of dances of different levels in the show. It was very diverse. … It was one of our best Dance Opens. Our opening night went almost perfectly. There were a couple of mishaps with music, but other then that, the dances were seamless,” Johns continued.