Dancers exhibit talent in spring show
So, why doesn’t Brandeis have a football team? There’s probably a proper answer for that, but hey, who needs a varsity football team when you have the Adagio Dance Company? Last Thursday evening, the University’s largest student-run dance group hosted their spring show, “Undefeated,” in Levin Ballroom. The audience was restless and eager before the performance even began, and we weren’t left lacking for excitement. After all, as emcees Ray Trott ’16 and Dan Rozel ’16 reminded us throughout the night, “If dance were any easier, it would be called football!”
“Undefeated” showcased 21 performances, each distinct in music and meaning. The Adagio performers boasted a wide number of dance styles, ranging from modern and lyrical to jazz, ballet and hip-hop. In true Adagio fashion, the show featured dancers and choreographers of all levels of experience, with a smaller, audition-based Dance Ensemble that performed three pieces in the night.
The Adagio Dance Ensemble opened the night with “Asht” by Julie Joseph ’18 — misprinted in the program as “Nebulo” — set to the song “Asht” by Nebulo. The song featured a heavy beat of percussion, allowing for the dancers to, as Joseph writes in the program, explore “the synchronicity of movement.”
Although the lighting arrangement for the evening was kept simple — colored Fresnels washing the stage and blank backdrop — the piece “Tracks of Never-Ending Light,” choreographed by Shayna Rubenstein ’16, fittingly incorporated the lighting into its production. The piece opened to slow guitar with vivid blue light that cast the dancers in shadow. Dressed in all black attire, the dancers were as bold as the silhouettes thrown onto the screen behind them, and as the guitar progressed, the lighting changed as well, shifting from dark violet to pale blue to orange and then back.
“Turning Back Time,” choreographed by Akshiti Todi ’19, opened with a musical scratch that cut through the cheers of the crowd. The lights flashed on, stark white, to reveal nine performers sporting red tops, snapbacks and attitude as bold as their dynamic display.
STREET SWAG: Saren McAllister ’18 (left), Tifara Ramelson ’16 (back), Akshiti Todi ’19 (front) and Arnold Barbeiro ’16 (right) show off their skills in the hip-hop number “Turning Back Time,” choreographed by Todi.
DANCING HOME: The Adagio Dance Ensemble expresses genuine emotion in their lyrical piece “Home,” choreographed by Melina Gross ’19.
As the name suggests, the hip-hop performance was a journey back through the last decade, featuring the songs “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, “Yoncé” by Beyoncé and “The Way I Are” by Timbaland ft. Keri Hilson. Each rewind was punctuated by another scratch and the dancers’ reflective shift in musicality. Costumes became props in this performance, with plaid shirts slung around waists emphasizing the cocked hips and hats casually discarded in favor of rhythmical throws of the head.
Amanda Ehrman ’18 choreographed three pieces for the show, each stylistically and atmospherically distinct from one another: “Unsung Hero,” a tribute to the late David Bowie set to his famous rock song “Heroes”; “Your Table’s Waiting,” a showy, theatrical piece set to “Don’t Tell Mama” by the 1998 Revival Cast of Cabaret; and “A Force of Nature,” set to the song “Anonanimal” by Andrew Bird, which featured a blend of ballet and modern dance.
As “A Force of Nature” opened to the high keen of violins, two dancers rose onto en pointe. Soon after, a guitar slipped beneath the melody, and three more dancers came alive. This particular performance was one of delightful contradictions. With graceful footwork and forceful currents of motion from the waist up, the dancers moved with an elegance that could never be labeled frail. At times the dancers moved purposefully off balance and, through that, displayed their impressive control. Through a paradoxical performance, these dancers managed to convey an often overlooked truth: dance is anything but delicate — least of all ballet.
In the program, Ehrmann states how pointe dancers overcome the pain and rise onto the top of their toes “proves [their] strength and commitment.” Anyone who has watched “A Force of Nature” will be compelled to agree.
“Home,” choreographed by Melina Gross ’19, was set to the melodious “North” by Sleeping at Last and performed by the Dance Ensemble. Throughout the piece, the dancers demonstrated great skill, swaying with the piano to conjure an expression of wistful longing. However, the true highlights of the piece were the moments where there was no movement at all.
Through her piece, Gross demonstrated how a lack of movement can be more powerful than an excess of it, as at times the dancers would still into a tableau. In counterpoint, a lone dancer would then sweep across the stage, and as if it were a wind, her motion stirred the others to life. “Home” was also performed at Culture X on Sunday.
Before the final piece of the night, Adagio brought out their Senior Slideshow, a presentation in honor of graduating members of Adagio. Each slide featured a snapshot from the graduating dancer’s childhood, many of which displayed a love of dance since youth.
The Dance Ensemble closed the night with “Pressure,” set to the song of the same name by The 1975. The choreographer, Rachel Moore ’19, states in the program that her performance was something enjoyable to wrap everything up: a message to the audience, thank you for being here” and a message to the Dance Ensemble, “thank you for your commitment to this dance.”
—Editor’s note: Lizzie Grossman ’18 and Rebecca Lantner ’16 are Justice editors. Brooke Granovsky ’18 and Rachel Moore ’19 are staff writers.