The Center for Dance, Movement and Somatic Learning presented the Performance Dance Ensemble’s showcase of “Tanz Consciousness” the weekend of April 11. The performance is what the student cast of 14, faculty choreographer, Joya Powell, and student choreographer, Anna Koskol, have been working on since the beginning of the semester. Almost every piece involved the class’ participation for creative process by each dancer to create the final product shown on stage.
The audience spent the entire performance without written programs of the presentation in hand to direct the audiences’ thoughts. Thus giving the audience the ability to have the unique experience of seeing the performance as it was and producing raw reactions from it.
The first piece was an innovative re-visitation by Joya Powell of the piece “Rosas danst Rosas” that was originally choreographed by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. The sharp movements were balanced out by soft accents. The same movement phrase was utilized throughout the piece but was manipulated in every possible way by making the movement go on the floor or use a large amount of space and more. The chairs the dancers sat in and the childrens’ songs eerily set the mood for the performance. Each element of the performance fit to show different individual’s expression of their own confliction and of either, “…conforming to or resisting the constraints of societal norms,” written in the playbill of the event. Each dancer looked off into the distance as “Macarena” by Los del Rio was lip synced to. The piece ended pleasantly with a musical chairs game with “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake & Lil Jon playing in the background.
The second piece was a powerful display of sensory overload called, “Understand Your Ground” by Joya Powell. Two sections were adapted from the original choreography in the repertoire by Powell’s Movement of the People Dance Company. The overload involved colorful zipped up hoodies on the dancers, chairs, smell of fear, look of suspicion in the dancers eyes and the audio of President Barack Obama’s address in regards to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The piece carried through with explosive movement and clear facial expressions filled with rage.
A duet featuring dancers, Leah Henry, wearing a white hoodie with a stitched black patch where a heart is, and Julianna Caputo, wearing a black hoodie with a stitched white patch, symbolically displayed racial stereotypes and choreography that showed society’s reaction. A finger was pointed around the room, looking to drop the blame on someone or some race but it did not stop at anyone in particular. Both sides performed with emotion: anger, frustration and the desire to receive comfort from anyone regardless of race, but pulling back because race is the heart of the issue. The entire piece invited audience members to step into that dark place in themselves that can induce unpredictable emotions and let themselves completely go if they wished to, which was very tempting and easily done because the dancers were already in that place themselves.
The third piece was a welcoming cheerful break called, “Between You and Me,” choreographed by student choreographer, Anna Koskol. The piece featured dancers, Scott Peterson and Jennifer Jeng as partners. The piece told the story of Peterson adorably dreaming of dancing with a beautiful young lady (Jeng) and how his dream came true after some time spent perfecting his moves by himself. The piece consisted of gorgeous and flowing movement that was contemporary in style.
The final piece, “Inner Iron Curtain”, choreographed by Joya Powell and Performance Dance Ensemble cast was inspired by the Berlin Wall and the effect it had on the people within it’s hold. German folk dance was utilized to display different emotions that tied into the socio-political issue on hand at the time. The piece was a perfect blend of community tension that put individual issues on display. An unseen force took family members away from each other. With arrows drawn on wooden boxes and destinations written on the side such as Berlin being carried on the backs of the dancers as a heavy load, finding one’s self in this world willingly or not was a priority. It also portrayed “…how some may have built walls within themselves as the Berlin Wall was being created before them” as written in the description.
The Performance Dance Ensemble is a 400-level course that requires being chosen after a rigorous audition process. On Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 1-3pm the Performance Dance Ensemble will be performing various site-specific versions of “Anne and Her Rosas” all over campus. More information can be found on The Center for Dance, Movement and Somatic Learning website.