Dance Labs Spotlights Improvisation & Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Illuminated by a soft violet light, Florence Grenon ’19 gracefully sat up and down on the stage’s floor in sync to the somber chords of Arvo Pärt’s “Für Alina.” Choreographed by Alice Tang ’18, the audience gazed intently as Grenon performed various yoga poses, eventually executing a forward roll and pushing herself up to into a standing position.

“I think [Alice’s piece] was really original. She planned to make it [look like] yoga where breathing is the main part of it, and you really need to focus on your breaths while you dance. I thought that was really creative; I’ve never done a dance like that, so I really enjoyed doing it,” said Grenon.

The first Dance Labs of the year were held last Friday in the Modern Dance Studio. Directed by program coordinator Alice Tang ’18, the performance included two student-choreographed dances.

“I wanted to have a big range of dancers and choreographers, and we kind of had that, so I’m pretty pleased with the way that [it] turned out. I was really just envisioning some pieces that were very individual to the student or the choreographers, and I’m glad that it worked out the way it did,” said Tang.

Tang’s piece was largely based on improvisation. In an interview with The Phillipian, she recalled working with Grenon to embellish isolation and yoga techniques in a piece paralleled to a performance last spring.

“My main inspiration for the dance was from a piece that Ms. Wombwell choreographed for us last year in the fall [Andover Dance Group] show, and the music was by the same composer. But the movements themselves were sort of improvised and they came from just talking and experimenting with Florence in the studio and seeing what we liked and what we didn’t,” said Tang.

The second performance featured a group dance choreographed by Emily Jackson ’19 to a cover of “Cancer” by My Chemical Romance. In line with this month’s Breast Cancer Awareness, the five dancers, including Jackson herself, brandished pink ribbons on their wrists while balancing on one leg with the other bent and lifted behind them. Toward the end of the piece, the four dancers linked hands as Grenon fell back into their arms as a symbol of weakness.

“I realized that it was all correlating into the whole idea of loss. It wasn’t just the story of the patient; it was the story of everyone around them. So we had a main dancer that represented the patient, and we had four other dancers around her, representing people that care about her,” Jackson said.

Dance Labs will continue throughout the year as an outlet for student choreographers to practice and showcase their work in an intimate setting.

“I wanted to do real choreography and really dive deeper into how a dance is made or why do we do this or perform here. So ever since I took the [choreography] class [at Andover], I’ve been getting really into it, and I’ve been picking out songs here and there throughout the summer, so I have all these songs in mind that I want to choreograph to. So Dance Labs is a great way to experiment,” said Jackson.