(e)Merge, Andover Dance Group’s (ADG) last and biggest production of Winter Term held on March 9, featured original choreography that emphasized individual solos, lyrical interpretation and lighting manipulation.
The evening kicked off with a dramatic interpretation of the song “In the Backseat” by Arcade Fire. Choreographed by Judith Wombwell, Instructor in Dance, each dancer had her own solo performance. Madeline Silva ’13, Rochelle Wilbun ’13, Suzanne Wang ’13 and Marion Kudla ’15 wore black leotards and tights to contrast the red lighting during the song’s crescendo.
For the second piece, “2.718,” Erin Strong, Chair and Instructor in Dance, combined the songs “Emily’s Reel” and “Second Time Around” by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connor to create a more traditional feeling. Dancers Emily Field ’13, Emily Ewing ’14 and Elizabeth McGonagle ’16 wore pastel silky dresses designed by Billy Murray, Instructor in Costuming. The dancers spun in carefully choreographed circular formations while they were accompanied by the folky music. As the music slowed, however, the dance gradually became more individualized and introspective. The dancers’ outstanding facial expressions helped convey the atmospheric mood throughout the entire dance.
“Andover Dance Group is made up of our most serious dancers, so over a period of years I try to give them a variety of different challenges. Since the Nutcracker was ballet and ‘technically’ focused, I thought it would be great to follow up with something where they were challenged more intellectually and emotionally,” wrote Wombwell in an e-mail to The Phillipian. “The pieces ‘In the Backseat,’ ‘Close Calls’ and ‘2.718’ were all very strong, but very different from each other. Each piece really showcased the dancers well.”
Following the trend of highlighting individuality, “Close Calls,” also choreographed by Strong and performed by the same dancers as “2.718,” used the song “There Ya Go,” by Bobby McFerrin and had original contributions from the dancers.
The most experimental piece of the show, “Close Calls” featured dancers Emmie Avvakumova ’14, Rozenn Carrio ’13, Rebecca Cheng ’14, Sarah Cronin ’15, Vivian Liu ’15, Abriana Mayer ’14, Kana Rolett ’13 and Anna Stacy ’13 dressed in tunic-like tops over white leggings. Contrasting the graceful movements of the previous pieces, much of “Close Calls” featured simple, almost mechanical walking movements. The dancers emphasized the quirky nature of the dance with audible breaths and “bip” and “bop” noises.
“[‘Close Calls’] was very interesting because we, the dancers, used our voices, whether it was for humming, whistling or simple things like sighing. We wanted the audience to laugh, in a good way, because this dance is so quirky and different from the others,” said Liu, who has been dancing for 10 years.
The final piece, “Home,” was the most ambitious dance of the night. Choreographed by the Wombwell and Avvakumova as well as the dancers themselves, it consisted of many scenes focusing on themes like fragility, time or technology. The audio was a recording of the dancers’ thoughts on each subject, along with music played by guitarist Alec D’Alelio ’14. The danwce featured Carrio, Ewing, Field, Kudla, Rolett, Silva, Wang and Wilburn, along with Olivia Berkey ’15, Janice Cheon ’16, Susannah Hyde ’13, Graham Johns ’14, Sophie Landay ’14 and Erica Nork ’16 all dancing.
“I love how they took so many elements of home from all the dancers and blended it together to actually mean something,” said Jaleel Williams ’15 in an e-mail to The Phillipian. “As embarrassing as it is, I almost teared up during the part of ‘Home’ where Liv [Berkey] described a letter she got from some of her friends at home, talking about how much they missed her and awaited her return. It reminded me that I had my own friends at home. As a performer, I know that whenever you perform, even though you want to [be] perfect, your main objective is to make the audience feel something.”
According to McGonagle, the dancers started preparing for the performance at the beginning of Winter Term.
“[Wombwell] asked each of us to think about a relationship with a person, place, thing, anything we wanted. When we got back to campus we began discussing our relationships with each other and experimenting with choreography,” said McGonagle.