Dance Dhamaka took to MainStage at the ’62 Center on Friday and Saturday nights. Aside from raising money for Unite for Sight, a campus organization dedicated to funding eye health in third-world countries, the performance was an opportunity for the group to showcase a semester’s worth of work – work that was well-appreciated by the small but supportive audience of students, community members and families that turned out to see the show.
The format of the show kept audience members on the edge of their seats: Pieces alternated between inclusive dances that featured most of the group members and “transition pieces” involving just one or two dancers. From the get-go, it was clear that this would be a beautiful performance. Barefoot dancers clad in a variety of brightly-colored costumes performed amidst well-executed tech work, particularly in terms of the background lighting. The lights were integrated into the performance, often used to either silhouette the dancers or highlight their movements and the mood of each piece with color changes.
The performance started out with a piece titled “An Auspicious Beginning.” Three dancers started on stage, with three more joining throughout the piece. The highlight of the first dance came when the lights were dimmed and the performers danced in the dark, holding lit candles so only silhouettes were visible. The strong beat and enthusiastic feel of this first piece continued throughout the end of the second dance, “Bhangra Blowout.”
The tone of the performance began to shift with the second transition piece, danced by Joy Jing ’13. With her performance, a more evocative, sensual dance than the first few, Jing transitioned the group nicely into “A Dream Sequence.” The dream-like aspect of this performance was highlighted by one move in particular: One woman made graceful, dancer-like movements with her arms as the other performers, each holding part of a swath of cloth, waved it up and down, lending a surreal, ethereal quality to the piece.
After a few more numbers that marked a return to the quick, upbeat feel of the first few songs, the dancers transitioned into “Beating Hearts,” a more romantic dance. The music started slow and sped up over the course of the song, which the dancers’ movements mimicked: The performers started seated and slowly rose as the beat began speeding up. True to the name of the dance, at one point the women performing made “beating heart” motions with their arms, tapping their chests with their hands interlocked and elbows pointing outward.
The group then came together for a couples-like dance in “Dandiya-Raas.” Dancers all held sticks which they would either clap together or against other dancers’ sticks, and at certain points in the performance, dancers in bright red and yellow attire – both dresses and menswear – paired off into separate lines.
For the next full number, “Love Birds,” the group changed out of its colorful costumes and performed in jeans and shirts for an energetic, enthusiastic number ending in a cute group pose. The lighthearted feel of this dance continued into the next transition piece, in which Robin Gimm ’14 performed solo amidst cheers of enthusiastic fans.
The next transition piece, between “Naach Nation” and “Remix,” saw Seth Tobolsky ’13 and Tracy Hu ’13 dance a playful duet. Their interaction lent the piece a warm, comedic plot-like feel, particularly as the dancers were brought fully into the light after starting as silhouettes.
The last number, “Finale,” was a party in and of itself: In celebratory style, the majority of the group would stand to the side at any given time, keeping the beat for fellow performers closing out their night with small-group dances in the middle of the stage. In the true Williams style, the number – and the night – closed out with a cameo appearance by the purple cow itself, which joined in the dancing for the very end of the piece before the performers took their final bow.
Additional reporting by Alexa Peterson, contributing writer.