By Katie Monroe
On Friday and Saturday nights, the Spring Dance Concert at Goodhart Auditorium showcased the hard work of students and faculty involved in Bryn Mawr’s many dance ensembles. A diverse set of pieces, ranging from accessible to downright strange, made for an engaging evening.
The show opened with “Echoes,” performed by the African Dance ensemble, and choreographed by Rev. Nia Eubanks-Dixon in collaboration with the dancers. Combining narration, flowing white garb, and an incredible amount of energy flowing straight from the dancers’ bodies into the audience, it was a strong way to begin the evening.
The second section, “Chrysalis,” was excerpted from the final choreographic efforts of Bryn Mawr senior Caitlin Iles. I had the opportunity to see the full work earlier this semester in the Tabitha show, but it was great to see it reach a larger audience. Focused on themes of instability, the two pieces performed this weekend represented various forms of mental instability and addiction. The dancers portrayed obsession, depression, and paranoia too effectively for the audience to just sit back and watch comfortably. The tortured duet between Aliza Rothstein BMC '12 and Anisha Chirmule BMC '10, portraying addict and addiction, needed no explanation. Their dynamic was instantly recognizable, with Chirmule creepily controlling Rothstein, who repeatedly tried (and failed) to break free.
The modern ensemble followed, performing “liminal states,” choreographed by Dance Program Director Linda Caruso Haviland. Half the dancers wore crystal-encrusted flowing white costumes – they seemed to be angels – while the mere mortals wore pink velvet. I liked how the piece evolved, with the groups of angels and mortals dancing independently at first, relatively unaware (or at least uninterested) in each other. By the end, they had paired off, with each angel directing her respective mortal – albeit much more benevolently than we saw in the addiction duet.
The last piece before the intermission, a Michael Jackson tribute choreographed by Crystal Frazier and performed by the Hip Hop ensemble was a crowd-pleaser. The music, dancing, and costumes came together, embodying the legendary figure through all the hits – "Beat It," "Thriller," and "Smooth Criminal" figured prominently – and all the signature moves, perfectly executed.
After this relatively straightforward fun, the show shifted gears with “Stunts, Acrobatics and How to Stay Alive in the Woods for Girls and Women,” performed by the second-semester modern ensemble and choreographed by Gabrielle Revlock. Practically defying description, this piece was experimental dance at its wackiest, and its most fun. Let’s just say: there were actual trees on the stage, the dancers wore Girl Scout costumes and wigs and brandished knives and lipstick tubes, and the dancing included quite a few impressive acrobatic feats, many involving multiple dancers balancing on each other. This was certainly not Girl Scouts as I remember it (outed myself!)– these were badass zombie-esque acrobats, leaving me more concerned for the safety anyone unfortunate enough to encounter them in the woods than for them.
In a 180-degree shift, the second-to-last piece, “A Moment’s Time,” was a girly meditation on crushing (sample lyrics: “You haven't written to me in a week/I'm wondering why that is/Are you too nervous to be lovers/friendships ruined with just one kiss”), performed by the contemporary-infused ballet ensemble. The lavender and pink costumes, smiling dancers, fun ensemble choreography by Heidi Cruz-Austin that can best be described as cute, and even a swing on stage all made for a conception of femaleness pretty far removed from the creepy girl scouts. I’m hoping there’s some middle ground to be had.
The show’s closer, “Mokoyoubi” was choreographed by Myra Bazell and performed by the jazz ensemble. Sara Navin, a Haverford sophomore featured in the piece, explained, “Myra said the piece was about just having fun – the purpose of it was pleasure for the dancers and for the audience.”
Its success was apparent in the joyful bodies and faces of the dancers as well as the crowd – a strong closing performance to a vibrant show.