Electric Eclectic

CofC’s Dance Department pulls out bag of tricks, but no show-stoppers

I was pleasantly surprised by the choreography and ingenuity of CofC’s latest dance event held Friday. Called Expression through Movement, the concert was an eclectic program of jazz, modern, and ballet with many surprises along the way.

I was particularly fond of the opening number, One, choreographed by Annie Lewis, which was at times angry and beautiful, and it toyed with the contrast between the bliss of partner work and the strength in working as one abstract, fluid unit.

The piece closed with an ominous sound, not unlike a heartbeat, and it left us pondering the dual roles of a machine — playing at times the whole, like the human body, and at times just parts, like the human heart.

The second piece, Solace, choreographed by Gretchen McLaine, began with curious silence. Two girls sat still on opposite sides of the stage and suddenly, in the dead of silence, exposed what appeared to be the throes of sexual passion. In a thrilling series of expressive and tantalizing movements, the dancers began to weave a tragic story. Were they friends or tormented lovers? I was never sure yet felt compelled by an endless chase of some sort.

An interesting piece by Saki Hamano, called What Do You See?, placed five dancers on the stage in blindfolds and challenged the audience’s perception. “What do you see?” began the recording. “Nothing,” was the reply. “Then touch it.” While unique and clever, it was difficult to overlook the inevitable unsure footing and less-than-perfect spacing. Also oddly out of place was a piece by Ashley Stock called Fever. It screamed sass, and boasted a series of fouettes and corkscrew jumps, but was very reminiscent of a studio/dance team-style that is quickly becoming extinct.

Robert Ivey’s ballet piece, Lament, was the most character-driven work, with widows mourning the loss of men in their lives until they reappear briefly for some reminiscing. While a bit schmaltzy, the female dancers had beautiful feet and extensions, and the partner lifts were impressive.

The finale, The Perfect Man, by the famed Marcus Alford, was refreshingly different. A crowd-pleaser, this strictly jazz number oozed cabaret, and had the glam appeal of a silent French film. Using chairs as props and wearing random articles of men’s clothing to the large, all-female cast, the piece had humor and a lot of style yet it never delivered the final punch I was so expecting.

All in all, CofC’s Dance Department delivered a relatively cohesive and unquestionably enjoyable program that fell just shy of very good.

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