Dance Company captures the crowd

What do you get when you throw together a bunch of student choreographers and composers and tell them to collaborate and create engaging works set to live, original music? An eclectic mix of dances that reflect the creative personalities of their makers, otherwise known as Captured, the Dance Company’s fall showing of works in progress.

In her curtain speech, Artistic Director Erica Dankmeyer said that choreographer-composer collaboration “can be a very tricky but ultimately worthwhile endeavor.” Choreographers and composers needed to constantly keep each other in mind while working on their own components of the collaboration. The result of their hard work was indeed worthwhile, as Dankmeyer said, and the audience was treated to a fantastic showing of varied individual talents united in performance.

The first piece, “Neurosis,” choreographed by Fhatarah Zinnamon ’11 and composed by Alex Creighton ’10, began with three dancers onstage performing detailed synchronized movement that eventually collapsed as they began to run around the stage, stopping periodically to hover precariously before taking off again. These three dancers were joined gradually by seven other dancers in the company who took up the running-hovering. As more dancers joined, the movement seemed increasingly dangerous as it seemed like the whole group could fall at any moment.

“Untitled,” the second piece of the evening, was choreographed by Darran Moore ’09 and set to music composed by Brian Simalchik ’10. The colorless lights came up dimly on the seven dancers who stood in three lines across the stage. As they began to move, it seemed as if their bodies were taken over by some kind of fluid that felt as if it came forth from Simalchik’s eerie and otherworldly music. The strange and unfamiliar hand gestures featured in much of Moore’s movement appeared ritualistic and supernatural when performed by the group.

Britt Baker-Brousseau ’11’s piece, “Fun and Games,” was a taut and highly dramatic examination of the relationship between three characters, and included music composed by Eben Hoffer ’10. Inspired by Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Baker-Brousseau’s piece featured sharp, abrupt and often violent movements performed with great control by dancers Jennifer Danzi ’09, Moore and Matthew Limpar ’09. The complex, tense relationship between these three characters was incredibly clear as they performed a specific movement physically apart and then, later on, together. Hoffer’s music was wonderfully harsh and creepy, including laughter, heavy breathing and spoken words such as “drunk,” “crazy” and “sweetheart.” The tension of the movement was complimented perfectly by the music, which vacillated between beautiful and terrifying.

The piece that followed, “Mokuyoubi,” choreographed by Emily Smith ’09 with music composed by Harris Paseltiner ’09 and Sam Kapala ’09, contrasted with the preceding dance. Smith and Moore began in a sharply defined pool of light and moved together through the space, supporting one another in beautiful lifts and coming apart in moments of tension. Paseltiner and Kapala highlighted this tension through their music, which featured the caressing tones of a cello set to a jerky drum beat.

The fifth piece of the evening, “Vertigo,” choreographed by Danzi, was set to the song “Chocolate” by Snow Patrol rather than an original composition. While Danzi’s movement was modern in style, the piece was structured like a traditional ballet piece: a large group of dancers began together and then broke up into smaller groups over the course of the dance according to the color of their belted sash. This fusion of two different styles was exciting and surprising, and showed that tradition and modernity can be merged together.

“The Red String of Fate,” choreographed by Limpar, was not set to music. Instead, Limpar explored the quality of sound made by dancers’ bodies as they move through the space, creating rhythmic sounds from their stomping and colliding. The dance began with two dancers, Katerina Belkin ’11 and Sonja Boatman ’12, on stage, each moving as if confined within her own small box. A third dancer, Moore, entered and began to dance with Boatman in a sort of push-pull relationship, as if they were attached by a rope. Belkin joined them towards the end of the dance, resulting in tense and violent movement that explained their relationship.

“(A Prelude To) L’Histoire” was a collaboration that explored not only dance and music, but also theater. Created by Dance Coordinator Sandra Burton, Erica Dankmeyer, Professor of Theatre Omar Sangare, and the performers, the piece was set to excerpts from the Suite from Histoire du Soldat by Igor Stravinsky. The dramatic energy of the piece was extremely exciting and engaging. In one particular moment, the six dancers, all dressed like soldiers, began rooting through their backpacks in search of an object. Each pulled a different object from his or her sack. Among these objects were a canteen, a gun and a picture frame, which the dancers then studied and moved with. Their theatrical engagement with these objects was thrilling to watch and the performers’ investment throughout the piece truly demonstrated the excitement of collaboration.

The final piece of the night, “Shock in the City”, choreographed by Kimberly Liu ’12 and set to music composed by Rob Pasternak ’11, featured dancers in ragged, clown-like costume pieces, such as hats and ties. This playful piece explored the disorder of movement as each dancer moved about the space in his or her own way, bumping into each other. Pasternak’s music reflected this playful energy – it resembled the music that might be featured in a dramatic child’s computer game, perhaps something like “Urchins in Space.” This piece exemplified the fun spirit of collaboration; the choreographer-composer partnership created a child-like, whimsical, but somewhat dark piece that happily didn’t take itself too seriously.

The work created by choreographers and composers was impressive, original and wonderful to watch. While Captured was technically a showing of works in progress, the spirit of collaboration was extremely evident in all the pieces. If you missed Captured, be sure to attend Dance Company’s spring show on April 10 and 11, when all the works will be shown in completion.