Adagio makes strides in annual Dancefest show
Published: Monday, November 14, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011 21:11
Adagio Dance Company's Dancefest 2011 was not merely a performance but a coming together of a community.
The 84 members of Adagio; tap dance club Hooked on Tap; step team So Unique; the Belly Dance Ensemble; hip-hop troupe Kaos Kids; the African Dance Club; Israeli dance troupe B'yachad; and dance crews from Suffolk University, Simmons College, Bentley University and Tufts University, as well as friends and family of the performers, filled the Levin Ballroom last Wednesday in the largest gathering of dancers this semester.
The event had a tight-knit, Brandeisian feel to it that reminded me of a high school football game at which everyone knows each other. Marc Eder '12, the night's emcee, epitomized this theme with a neighborly charm, improvising jokes to which everyone around me shouted responses—everyone knows this guy.
"This is the first time we're really trying to make Adagio feel like a big community," said Adagio Co-president Marla Merchut '12. "We've made more of an effort to be welcoming to everyone."
One example was Adagio's dress rehearsal last Tuesday, at which Adagio participants packed the Alumni Lounge and held hands in a circle, sending pulses across the room by passing along hand squeezes.
"People got to meet all the other dancers for the first time," said Vice President Melanie Shapiro '12, noting the circle as the most memorable part of preparing for Dancefest.
I haven't decided which part of Dancefest was the most memorable for me, but I can't forget So Unique choreographers Delande Justinvil '13 and Rachel Oshinsky's '12 "Britain vs. America"-themed step performance, which featured bearskin hats, the rhythmic "Cup Game" and chants like "Our Queen is Oprah!"
Another gem of the night was Hooked on Tap choreographer Danielle Zipkin's '12 tap dance rendition of Ella Fitzgerald's "I've Got Rhythm," in which bumbling, cane-wielding senior citizens discover an aptitude for tap dance.
Kaos Kids' explosive hip-hop showcase wowed the crowd at the end of the night's first act. I remember once seeing four or five first-years pop-locking in Polaris Lounge my sophomore year, and thinking, "How silly." These same dancers hosted a try-out session earlier this semester that filled the entirety of Gosman Sports and Convocation Center's bottom floor—Brandeis has gone Kaotic in recent years. Their piece in Dancefest began with MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" and traversed the wide spectrum of techno, hip-hop, dubstep and electronic mash-ups, ending with a booming voice that said, "They decided to become monsters."
The Dance Ensemble Alumni performance must have struck a chord for Adagio juniors and seniors. Alumni such as Micaela Preskill '10 took the time out of their busy post-graduation lives to choreograph and rehearse a number for Dancefest, a testament to the company's lasting influence on its members. Co-president Carina Platner '12 recalls Preskill reaching out to the company because she "wanted to keep dancing and really missed Adagio."
Adagio Dance Ensemble's concluding set, and the cheers that followed it, indicated a strong step forward for the club. Shapiro's "Invasion" did justice to Rusko's "Woo Boost," Ratatat's "Seventeen Years" and other fierce electronic/dubstep tracks with tight spins and synchronized jumps. The dancers arched their backs in poses that appeared as multicolored shadows on the white backdrop. The lights blacked out after the final note, ending an impressively stage-managed and programmed two-hour show.
Even though Adagio leaders and seniors Shapiro, Merchut and Platner are not sure how dance will fit into their lives after graduation, they acknowledge that dance has always played a large part in their lives.
"I'm planning on going to law school [after graduation], so this year is my big year for dance," said Merchut, a dancer since age six, in an interview with justArts. "Dance lets me get my energy out in a different way."
Carina, a dancer since three, has two older sisters who attended Brandeis and danced in Adagio, which influenced her decision to attend Brandeis.
Shapiro originally planned to major in dance at Rutgers State University of New Jersey, but opted for Brandeis' liberal arts education and Adagio's dance community instead.
"If we're in the Boston area next year, I assume we're going to do the alumni dance," says Merchut.
Meanwhile, members of Adagio Dance Company are busy planning for the nearer future, making preparations for their second-annual Dance Marathon, an all-night dance party benefitting the Children's Hospital of Boston on Dec. 3 in the Levin Ballroom. Participants will learn to dance, play giant Twister, do arts and crafts and meet the families of patients in the hospital. Last year's Dance Marathon netted over $5,000, and Adagio plans to make the event even larger this year with more support from the Adagio executive board and the Children's Hospital of Boston.