As the lights dim in Tang Theater, “Sh-Boom,” an upbeat 1960’s song by The Crew-Cuts, begins to play as an image of the album cover is projected on the back wall of the stage and five dancers dressed in red and black leotards begin to strut, leap and boogie their way onstage.
Choreographed by Erin Strong, Instructor in Theater and Dance, “Love Songs” is one of four pieces comprising “LOVE,” Andover Dance Group’s (ADG) upcoming show. Judith Wombell, Instructor and Chair in Theater and Dance and Director of ADG, chose the theme of love to unify the pieces, which all address the topic through both movement and music.
“Lately, ADG has been performing serious pieces, and [after hearing] some fun songs about love, I decided that I wanted to use them for the group. And there are so many different variations on the theme of love that I thought it would be a great idea for a show,” said Wombwell. “Overall, in the show there is a wide range of styles. So if an [audience member] doesn’t like one of the dances, he or she will like the next one. I think the show has something for everybody.”
The show begins with a piece entitled “Together We Go Apart,” choreographed by Strong. While several pieces of music, including the popular “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran, accompany the contemporary dance, a poem by Noel McInnis, entitled “Flow,” inspired the choreography. Part of the poem reads, “Accept whatever distance others are moved within your flow. Be with them gently.”
Strong said, “The whole dance is based on the idea that we travel with a group of people through life experiences, and at some point there comes a time when the group needs to part. The idea is that you love someone as long as they will let you, and when they no longer need you, you let them go and await a new beginning.”
A jazz dance that features a medley of songs from the 1950s and 1960s, “Love Songs,” follows “Together We Go Apart.” Five dancers perform the piece, each of them getting to dance their own brief solo that expresses a different, contrasting emotions related to the overarching theme of love. Hannah Beaudoin’s ’17 solo, set to “Love” by Frank Sinatra, tells the story of an outgoing and self-obsessed girl who toys with multiple suitors, played by Rudd Fawcett ’18, Johnny Rex ’17 and Zachary Ruffin ’17. She ends up alone onstage as the boys become fed up with her ego. Alexa Goulas ’18 performs a lively routine featuring a series of leaps and turns, set to Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love.”
Beaudoin said, “In each solo, we are expressing a different emotion or story that we have relating to love. After these, when we all come back out and dance together at the end, it ultimately shows how important friendship is and how our friends will always be there for us.”
Also in the show is “Seven Women,” a piece choreographed by a guest choreographer Donlin Foreman who was previously a principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company. The highly athletic dance focuses on the concept of seven women connecting with each other through complex weaving patterns and a series of falls and catches. The dancers, each dressed in different clothing that matches their personalities, use dynamic level changes to create a relationship with the floor, emphasising the importance of remaining grounded.
Sabrina Appleby ’17, a member of ADG, said, “In [‘Seven Women’], we really have to rely on each other and use teamwork. The idea of love is reflected in the relationships that we have with each other in the dance. We have to pay attention and feel each others’ movements and support each other throughout the dance.”
The show culminates with “Love Supreme,” choreographed by Wombwell, which features projections ranging from circles and squares to live feed footage of the dancers on the back curtain. Dancers, dressed in either black or white tunics, incorporate elements of improvisation to create a sense of spontaneity on the stage.
“LOVE, ADG” will be performed this Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 in Tang Theatre. Tickets are $5 for the public and $3 for Andover students.