When excited audiences filed into the ’62 Center’s MainStage last weekend for the Dance Company’s final performance of the year, Overexposed, few people knew what to expect. It is well known that the modern dance company uses student choreography as a cornerstone for its method of creative exploration, but this performance pushed the use of student compositions even further. For this show, dancers and choreographers worked together with student and faculty composers and musicians to create many expressive, completely original and vibrant dance numbers and scores; nearly 60 performers rounded out the final show from groups ranging from the Dance Company itself to the Williams Chamber Winds. Combine this freshness with the expert use of color and varying backgrounds and you get a show where almost every piece left you wanting more.
The performance opened with a vibrant Prelude in which featured dancer Britt Baker-Brousseau ’11 entered with a violin case in hand. She put the audience at ease as she was humorously pulled around the stage by the violin’s bow. By imbuing her dancing with an acting flair, Brousseau showed the audience that a dance performance can be more than a few strong bodies making pretty shapes.
The next piece, Finding Rhythm, choreographed by Fhatarah Zinnamon ’11 and with music composition by Alex Creighton ’10, did not disappoint. Beginning with both Zinnamon and Baker-Brousseau and eventually incorporating eight more performers, the choreography made the dramatization of becoming a dancer a visual delight. Incorporating controlled falls, stylized confrontation and versions of exercises found in every dance classroom, Zinnamon showed a strength for storytelling echoed later in later numbers.
Mokuyoubi, choreographed by Emily Smith ’09 and composed by Harris Paseltiner ’09 and Sam Kapala ’09, was different and satisfying since it was less of a story and more of an exploration of the beauty and strength of the human form. The dance was made up of two contrasting solo pieces that converged at the end. Smith opened with the interesting and beautiful use of twisting arms and smooth transitions, while the section of fellow dancer Darran Moore ’09 incorporated sharp, jerky movements that showed off his incredible strength.
The tribal beat and strong movements found in No Strings Attached, choreographed by Matthew Limpar ’09, contrasted well with the theme of the previous, softer flowing piece. This dance, created in collaboration with the dancers, again highlighted Moore’s astounding speed and strength as well as Baker-Brousseau’s ability to engage the audience with her portrayal of vulnerability.
Vertigo, choreographed by Jenny Danzi ’09, was a pretty piece with every girl wearing a flattering purple dress. It was pleasant to watch but lacked an engaging aspect found in some of the other pieces, and at times it was messy. That said, purposeful, unsynchronized movements made for nice visual anticipation.
After a short break, the Interlude began. A funny combination of comedy acting and dance conceived by Erica Dankmeyer, visiting lecturer in humanities and dance, and Omar Sangare, professor of theater, this piece involved a battle of wills between actress Tomomi Kikuchi ’11 and dancer Sarah Clark ’12. It was a wonderful and lighthearted break before the heady next piece.
Choreographed by Baker-Brousseau, Fun & Games was a favorite number for many audience members. The music, composed by Eben Hoffer ’10 and performed with the help of Nathaniel Basch-Gould ’11, was an experimental combination of instruments, heavy breathing and words such as “sweetheart” and “crazy” nearly yelled into the microphone. The number opened with what looked like a domestic dispute between Limpar and Danzi. Soon Moore was added to the scene as the “other man,” and the dramatic tension increased. The dance was beautiful, brutal and at times heartbreaking as Danzi, Moore and Limpar came together to show how people are used and abused through the danced fights, death and tears that ended with Limpar carrying Danzi’s limp body upstage.
For Whom the Ball Rolls, choreographed and costume-designed by dance faculty member Holly Silva, can only be summed up as a work of happy dance fun time, with the stage full of dancing bodies and bouncing tennis balls. It proved that you don’t always need a story for a dance to be exciting and fun. The dancers were obviously having a blast and the audience responded in kind.
Other pieces covered a range of styles and techniques. Self Portrait, a piece choreographed by Kallan Wood ’10, could have been overlooked, but the dancers worked beautifully together to make for an enjoyable experience that lightened the hearts of anyone watching. The piece by Rachel Bring ’09, On the Horizon, presented a soothing and lyrical three-woman dance that, despite its tranquility, was able to stand apart from the monochromatic green theme of the costumes and lighting. Moore’s Walk In, Release, with music composed by Brian Simalchik ’10, on the other hand, was pleasant, though not entirely memorable.
Overexposed was a production to be proud of. Though never disappointing, the dances ranged from average to astounding and from shocking to soothing to filled with child-like joy. I for one cannot wait to see what the Dance Company’s focus on collaboration will bring us next season. Bravo.