“Press/Release,” the Dance Program’s fall concert, showcased newcomers and veterans alike in eight pieces, six of which were student-choreographed, at the Mahaney Center for the Arts Dance Theatre on Nov. 22- 23.
It was a welcome opportunity to see the College’s talented Dance Program in a new light: “Press/Release” shed light on enormously skilled underclassmen dancers that I never even knew existed and it was equally as fun to watch the senior majors show their prowess as choreographers as it was to see younger performers. As it turns out, their choreography is as impressive as their dancing.
One of the night’s standouts came from Rachel Nuñez ’14, who choreographed “Objects in Mirror” for dancers Octavio Hingle-Webster ’17, Danielle Weindling ’17 and Laura Xiao ’17. A trio with some crazy psychosexual power struggles — I never really know exactly what is going on in dance pieces — Hingle-Webster, Weindling and Xiao performed to an original mash-up that interweaved, among others, The Weeknd, Otis Redding and Ólafur Arnalds’s Icelandic chamber music. It was irresistible.
Nuñez’s inventive soundtrack was matched only by that of Jill Moshman ’14, whose piece, “Residue,” closed the show. Moshman’s ambitious score brought together Woody Guthrie, a Bach cello suite performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” with clips from subway announcements and selections from a wide spectrum of sources, from nursery rhymes to “The Phantom Tollbooth” to “The Bell Jar.”
Moshman choreographed “Residue” in collaboration with Doug LeCours ’15, with the pair performing the piece as well. By integrating everyday sound clips and kitchen chairs that were both pedestrian and tangible, Moshman and LeCours infused a sense of real life into a genre that is often inaccessible and elusive.
Cameron McKinney ’14 was the only senior dance major to perform solo at the fall show. “Nights Devoted to Roaming in Darkness,” which McKinney choreographed for himself, was a visually striking and very serious piece that involved a large bamboo pole. McKinney seemed to be getting at themes of introspection and discovery, his movements recalling, perhaps, those of a cautious explorer feeling out entirely new territory.
There was also Meredith White ’15 , who choreographed “Lost and Found,” featuring Vladimir Kremenovic ’17, Nellie Pierce ’16.5, Veronica Rodriguez ’16.5, Sarae Snyder ’15 and Sophie Vaughan ’17. Set to original ambient music by Eric Hass ’15, “Lost and Found” showcased Pierce’s hair: everyone started off in oversized hoodies, androgynous and almost unrecognizable, then the dancers paired off, crawled around on all fours carrying each other on their backs and finally circled around a kneeling Pierce, who slowly unraveled her knee-length hair over the course of the piece.
In a style true to her own character, Isabella Tudisco-Sadacca ’13.5 presented a spoken word–dance hybrid piece entitled “This Body I Carry,” which explored her self-discovery, her relationship with her mother, and that time she lived in Senegal, all set to the tune of speeches from the Franco-African Negritude movement.
The two numbers that were not choreographed by students included the Annual Newcomers Piece, arranged by concert director Catherine Cabeen, and “Narayaniyam,” a classical Indian Kuchipudi-style dance that was the culmination of a theory-practice course on Indian religion, aesthetics, history and dance. “Narayaniyam” was particularly engaging — it was a bright, cheery piece with 15 dancers in ornate, jangly outfits, a refreshing shift from some of the more esoteric works.
“Narayaniyam” was also the only appearance of the night for dance department bigwig Adeline Cleveland ’13.5, who will be performing tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. alongside Amy Donahue ’13.5. Cleveland and Donahue will present entirely original senior work that seeks to combine their interest in dance, gender and self-expression across a variety of media.