CoDa performs colorful tribute to the art of Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt is known for his conceptual art, especially the geometric nature of his wall drawings, photography and paintings.

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CoDa’s Niralee Shah ’12 took the stage this weekend clad in colorful drapes, an echo of LeWitt’s vibrant and geometric forms.

On Friday and Saturday, the dance group CoDa turned CenterStage at the ’62 Center into a dynamic gallery that paid tribute to LeWitt’s work. The performance, fittingly titled “LeWitticisms,” made use of symbolic movement, an intriguing artistic display, vibrant costumes, the intricate space that CenterStage has to offer and of course the talents of the performers to bring this project to life.

The opening number, “Angles,” featured Cecilia Denhard ’15, Jenni Ginsberg ’13, Claire Lidston ’15 and Amanda Washington ’14. The lights opened on the four women as each dancer posed in a unique, richly-colored dress, from forest green to indigo to dark teal to red wine. Performed to choreography by Sarah Clark ’12 and the musical piece “Kiara” by Bonobo, “Angles” was comprised of exactly that: The dancers executed their movements with robust precision and professional calm. Interestingly, it seemed as if they sometimes moved in a round, with a group of two performers beginning a movement and the opposite two performing the same movement several counts later. Often, two dancers moved downstage while the others hung back or retreated, creating a balance of opposites and a sense of symmetry that mirrored the even, pulsing beat of the music.

Washington choreographed the second performance of the night, “Against the Grain,” which was set to “In a Submarine” by Home Video. Clark, Lidston, Karina Hofstee ’14 and Madison Weist ’15 depicted a frenzied chase in which three dancers followed the fourth. Clad in gray and white costumes that struck a corporate tone, the group of performers moved with determined energy while the lone dancer moved with frantic elegance, striving with every step to exert her individuality despite the oppressing crowd. This kind of creative touch, which left the hints of symbolism under a layer of ambiguity, persisted throughout almost every number.

In two separate, stunning artistic displays, the dancers walked, ran or gracefully rolled across the floor, each wielding a brightly-colored banner behind her. The visual effect was fantastic: Cast against the performers’ silent white garb, the purple, green, orange, red and yellow of the streaming banners were eye-catching and entertaining, as were the ways in which the dancers utilized these props, some rolling out onto the floor from the corner of the stage, gradually unfurling the fabric in a trail behind her and another spinning out of a cocoon of orange that another performer holds steady, then leaping into action with a yellow banner of her own in hand. One dancer stood on the CenterStage balcony and ceremoniously lowered a large purple banner.

One of the night’s many highlights was the duet performed by Jennifer Luo ’13 and Niralee Shah ’12. Accompanied by Nneka Dennie ’13 on vocals, the pair danced to “At Last” by Harry Warren, incorporating plenty of partner work and even some playful acrobatics into their performance. This piece was unique in its own right but especially in comparison to the other numbers in “LeWitticisims.” Most pieces of the performance were performed to instrumental music and were more mysterious in tone, but in “At Last,” the cheerful, celebratory nature of the piece shone clear.

“LeWitticisms” was a treat for the audience in every way. The dancers exhibited their unique styles and impressive talents onstage; the choreography of the students and Dance Department Directors Erica Dankmeyer and Janine Parker was both entertaining and thought-provoking; and the incorporation of LeWitt’s artwork into the show was seamless and always on point. During many of the numbers, CoDa members danced over images of LeWitt’s work projected onto the luminescent white performance floor. All details of the performance, from the costumes to the program design (which was done by English Cook ’13), reflected the quirky, geometric theme that runs through LeWitt’s artwork. The dancers did their part to mobilize LeWitt’s brilliance in a moving exhibit, and they managed to paint the performance with their own unique artistry in the process.