Arts Uncategorized

“Appalachian Spring” Preview: Andover Dance Group Performance Embraces Collaboration

Staring joyfully over the heads of their friends and family, Him and Her, played by Zach Ruffin ’17 and Sabrina Appleby ’17 during the Saturday night show, clasp their hands together tightly as pastel ribbons ascend overhead. Although conflict arises later, in this moment Him and Her are united with, and supported by, their loved ones.

Choreographed by Judith Wombwell, Instuctor and Chair in Theatre and Dance, “Appalachian Spring” is the primary dance of Andover Dance Group’s (ADG) new show. “Appalachian Spring” and the three other dances in the show are united by a common theme of collaboration. Many of the dances were accompanied by student performers from the Music Department.

“[Collaboration between the Music Department and the Theatre and Dance Department] was something that a lot of people, faculty and student musicians and dancers and artists, [wanted to do]. Everything is performed to live music… so there’s this whole thread of this collaboration. We have fantastic dancers and a very strong Music Department, so I think this was one way of honoring both departments and the strength of both,” said Janice Cheon ’16, a choreographer, dancer and musician in the show.

The show opens with the piece “Dreams of Terpsichore,” choreographed by Cheon. The dance is set to an original piece composed by Charles Stacy ’16, which is played onstage by five student musicians. Opening with a slow, languid section, the piece progresses to a dissonant middle section filled with leaps and twirls. Finally, the dancers slow down again before “waking up” and walking offstage.

“‘Terpsichore’ is one of the nine muses from Greek mythology, and she happens to be the muse of dance and music. But she also might have an element of night or this essence of dreams to her, so Charles decided to title this piece ‘Dreams of Terpsichore.’ I took a lot of inspiration from Greek vases with the nine muses on their sides. I also took inspiration from one of Botticelli’s paintings of a spring scene with the muses and everyone dancing, so [the dance] is very heavily influenced by this Hellenistic work and also this Renaissance style. I also kept this element of dreams and this whole thread of sleep in mind while I was choreographing… It’s a very fastpaced, lively dream, but it’s not a nightmare,” said Cheon.

“Equal and Opposite,” a slower, relaxed piece follows “Dreams of Terpsichore.” Choreographed by Wombwell, the piece is accompanied by “Pas de Deux” by Samuel Barber, played by Sergio De Iudicibus ’16 and Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music, on piano. The piece opens with gentle swaying before shifting to rapid running across the stage. As the dancers run, there are moments where one dancer is lifted up and carried across the stage by others.

“I was just thinking about forces that play on a person; you get pulled in different directions, and I really like that Barber piece. Many years ago I did the whole thing, the suite is called ‘Souvenirs,’ and it’s probably about 25 to 30 minutes. There’s a lot of variety in the piece, and I love that. I had this idea about the dancers trying to almost persuade each other, influence each other, and once I started going with that, we just had fun in the studio. Every rehearsal just worked. The dancers were great,” said Wombwell.

Following “Equal and Opposite,” members of ADG performed the piece “Take 507,” choreographed by Erin Strong, Instructor in Theatre and Dance. The dance is choreographed to “Suite for Jazz Quartet” by Claude Bolling, which is performed by four students. The dance starts with a languid section before suddenly changing into a much faster portion, featuring flying leaps as the dancers race from one side of the stage to the other.

“The reason we ended up calling [the dance] ‘Take 507’ was because there’s this one part in the first part of the music, the slower part, where there’s this transition move that we never knew what we wanted to do with. We had all these combinations of shifting from one side of the body to another, and we said that we took so many takes that there were 507 versions of it. We decided to go with ‘Take 507’ as the final one, and that’s what we ended up naming the piece because we had no idea what else to call it,” said Hannah Beaudoin ’17, a member of ADG.

The show concludes with “Appalachian Spring,” choreographed by Wombwell. Set to “Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland, the dance is accompanied by the Academy Chamber Orchestra. The dance follows the story of Him and Her, who meet and fall in love. Their love, however, is complicated by familial disapproval and the anger of her best friend. Through music, dance and lighting, “Appalachian Spring” explores the themes of community, friendship, love and loss.

“[The themes] really impact the music and the style of the music. There’re some parts where the music is really light and everyone’s happy, and sometimes it gets very loud and very intense. For instance there’s a part that we call the tantrum scene because the best friend gets really upset and throws a tantrum at Her for leaving, and the music gets very dark and loud,” said Emily Jackson ’19, a member of ADG.

“Appalachian Spring” will be performed this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Tang Theatre. Tickets are available for $5.00 at the Theatre Box Office in George Washington Hall.