Soloists Take Center Stage at DanceLabs

As her white dress floated up with the momentum of her body, Alexa Goulas ’18 appeared to freeze midair. Goulas completed the split leap by falling softly onto one knee and rolling herself back to standing.

Goulas’ performance was part of last Friday’s DanceLabs. Unlike previous DanceLabs, which showcased group numbers, the show only featured solo acts. Lizzie McGonagle ’16, Director of DanceLabs, hoped this change would push the boundaries of tradition in the Dance Department.

“DanceLabs have been around for a while and we’ve always wanted to bring in more of an audience,” McGonagle said, “When we were coming up with ideas, I suggested we do a solo show. It would be completely open to all styles for anyone who wanted to perform. We were trying to change it up and bring something new and different.”

Seven solo dancers performed a variety of styles ranging from jazz to Kathak, a classical Indian dance form. In order to provide an intimate setting, the performance took place in the Modern Studio in the Borden Gym, which has been modified to accommodate performances through the addition of state curtains and dramatic lights.

Goulas was inspired by the opportunity to dance in a more personal setting. She performed a self-choreographed contemporary dance to “Drops of Jupiter” by Train, using kicks, leaps and turns to create sustained lines and emphasize the immediacy of each moment.

“I was trying to portray the message in the song, which is to live now, because people leave and you never know how much time you have with someone,” said Goulas.

Draped in a red, flowing costume designed for traditional Indian dance, Anushree Gupta ’18 presented a Kathak solo. She began with a soft and delicate beginning consisting of emotive poses and hastaks, or hand positions that symbolize various Sanskrit words. She gradually grew to a climax in which she completed fast, intricate footwork and rapid turns, which were accentuated by ghungroo, or 100 bells on each of her feet.

“That was one of my most recent pieces that I learned and I just really loved doing it in class,” said Gupta. “I love that piece out of others because it combines almost all aspects of dance.”

The show ended with “Heaven’s Hanging Low,” a self-choreographed modern piece by Erin Strong, Instructor in Theatre and Dance. The dance, set to “I giorni: Andante” by Ludovico Einaudi, was inspired by the notion that the energy of someone who has touched one’s life will never truly depart. Strong’s choreography explored different levels and dynamics. She incorporated both floorwork and jumps into the piece, keeping her face calm while her body darted from one side of the stage to the other in a complex series of reaches and pulls.

“Sometimes the energy that remains [from] the memories of people can weigh you down, where it’s hard to breathe, but at the same token it’s a comfort to have those memories,” said Strong. “I was portraying both of those sensations, and in the end that’s really, I think, why the energy of their souls does remain, so you can carry their love with you forever.”

McGonagle felt that these DanceLabs were particularly successful in attracting a range of performers and styles.

“I hope to continue to have a diversity of people who are involved in DanceLabs. I think it was really successful having people who did jazz, modern and Indian dances. Hopefully in the future, we will work with groups and try out new collaborations,” said McGonagle.