Dance Open 2018 Presents Diversity of Movement

Illuminated by piercing red spotlights, Alice Tang ’18, Emma Wong ’18, and Daniela Ronga ’18 extend their arms in long, flowing movements. With their backs turned to the audience, they sway to the chords of Camila Cabello’s “Havana.” As the song reaches the chorus, the trio tiptoes towards the audience, extending their arms to the sky before twirling in opposite directions to create a hypnotizing pattern.

“The music just kind of comes up really quietly, and the lights do, too. It’s really soft, and I think it’s a really powerful moment where it’s kind of seductive in a way. It really captures the audience in the beginning,” said Ronga.

This performance choreographed by the three dancers is one of the 19 dances slated to be performed at this year’s Dance Open. The show was directed by Yishu Chen ’19 and will showcase dance genres including tap, hip hop, jazz, and more.

“I love that you get to see all different parts of the dance community here. I feel like in some shows, you only see very strict modern type or ballet. For example, in Grasshopper, you might only see large dance groups, but with Dance Open, you get to see a lot of small, more independent dance organizations. People are a lot more creative with their styles, and there’s just so much more diversity in the types of dancers and what they’re interested in…” said Tang.

Another performance features the hip-hop trio Layomi Oloritun ’20, Tafari Friday ’20, and Anntonia Taylor ’20. Against green lights, the three dance to a mashup of songs by Lil Uzi Vert: “444-222,” “The Way Life Goes,” “Oh Wonder,” “Sauce It Up,” and “Wanted You.” Choreographed by Oloritun, the three dancers each perform a brief solo before coming together and jumping as a group. The dance ended with the trio walking off the stage together while kicking their legs back and throwing their arms over their heads.

Oloritun said, “Most people think of hip hop as people saying the N-word a bunch of times and about beat fetishism. To me, hip hop is a movement. It’s the music that I listen to and the music that I like. That’s why I get inspired by it. A lot of stuff I do in the dance and in the dance programs here are hip hop, so I wanted to transfer that to one of my own pieces.”

The show also features Michelle Zhao ’19 and Francesca Santiago ’20 dancing a duet to the song “Lies” by Marina and the Diamonds. The duo engages in a push and pull of twirls under a pale blue light, representing the dynamic of two lovers falling apart. During one part of the performance, Zhao lies down on the ground and Santiago stretches over her, hands searching the ground as she looks for someone that is not there.

“Getting everything down and everything polished was hard because I had never choreographed up until this point. We definitely wanted to do somewhat of a romantic duet. We were actually inspired by ‘Purple Rain,’ which was featured in the [Andover Dance Group] 2017 fall dance show,” said Zhao.

The show also includes a performance by SLAM, Andover’s step team. Starting in complete darkness, stomps break the silence as they split from their formation in a circle. With loud and powerful movements, the group dances to the sound of their own stomps and claps, chanting “drop that beat,” until the song “Lemon” by N.E.R.D. and Rihanna began. SLAM members jump and high kick into a straight line where they walk off stage in a synchronized fashion.

Annie McGovern ’18, a member of SLAM, said, “We kind of went into this year trying to incorporate dance and music and just our typical SLAM movement in silence using our own voices. It’s kind of a mashup of a bunch of different things, which is what I think makes it really interesting and unique.”

The performances will be held in Steinbach Theater in George Washington Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 16; 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 17; and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 18.