The process of dancing and choreography was Dance Company’s focus this semester, as noted by Erika Dankmeyer, visiting lecturer in humanities and dance, in her introduction to the group’s performance last weekend. In its compositions, Dance Co. sought to address the vocabulary of movement and the ways in which all elements of a performance interact. The result was Suspension, a varied collection of original works choreographed by Dankmeyer and Dance Co. members in the group’s year-end production.
In the opening piece, “Shadows,” choreography by Brittany Baker-Brousseau ’11 illustrated the attention to all elements of the piece – in line with the theme Dankmeyer had highlighted. The piece, which incorporated allusions to Hiroshima, began not with the dancers, but with the musicians onstage. Throughout the dance, the singers’ and musicians’ movements were also part of the performance, whether they were playing or silent. When the vocalists sang, the softness of the music, composed by Eben Hoffer ’10, contrasted with the tension of the dancers’ movements to highlight the intense but controlled energy in their limbs. The starting and stopping motions of the dancers, as well as the hands they repeatedly clapped over their mouths, added to the audience’s sense that the performers were communicating a chaos they were on the verge of, but not quite sharing.
After “Shadows,” came the balletic choreography of Niralee Shah ’12 in “Silhouette.” The movements of the dancers worked with the strong beat of the song “Hip Hop Violin” and the eye-popping colors of the set and costumes to create a playful, accessible performance. The next piece, “things that come out at night,” choreographed by Katerina Belkin ’11, continued the energetic mood. Alternating between frenetic and frozen, the dancers seemed to challenge the audience with their motions. The memorable piece included complex movements and several moments when the dancers held still, their bodies hanging in unusual and asymmetrical poses. The dancers and the audience both seemed equally enthusiastic in performing and viewing the work, which drew particularly strong applause. “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” choreographed by Kallan Wood ’10, followed. The work featured several dancers showcasing an airy and delicate style in a calmer tone than the previous dances.
Meira Bernstein ’12 choreographed the duet “Braving Winter,” in which the primary interaction seemed to lie between dancers, rather than between dancers and audience. This is not to suggest that the dance did not include the audience; spectators simply observed the performance as if they were watching a private interaction rather than participating in a dialogue. ”Braving Winter” featured two strong performances from Baker-Brousseau and Marina Bousa ’13. Baker-Brousseau, as with her performance of an earlier version of the work in the fall, executed the choreography with a strong, physical presence. Bousa drew audience attention with her graceful dancing, but also stepped into the background at times when the piece demanded attention elsewhere.
“Cadence” by Sarah Clark ’12 came next with touches of the unexpected, such as an opening with dancers on their heads and sudden, large-scale movements throughout. As in “Silhouette,” the colors of costumes and set popped out at the audience.
Concluding the show, the entire company performed in Dankmeyer’s “Soft Landing.” In the program, the piece’s listing comes with a quote from NPR’s All Things Considered about the story of a passenger who suddenly needed to land the plane when the pilot collapses. One moment that epitomized the focus on process came with the addition of radio excerpts of the exchange between passenger and ground control. As the dialogue played, with the passenger’s tone betraying deep anxiety, each dancer moved one hand, but blocked the movement’s completion with the other hand, conveying stress and intense, focused effort. With “Soft Landing,” Suspension culminated on a strong note, with a challenging but moving piece that interpreted narration through dance.