Given that the Terpsichore Fall Dance Concert had three shows in two days, it wouldn’t have been surprising if the last show on Saturday afternoon had little energy and little of its reputed flair. But in the World Music Hall this weekend, that certainly wasn’t the case.
Starring a cast of 16 dancers, the first piece, “Countdown,” set the tone of the production perfectly. The piece featured plenty of clapping, screaming, and overall revelry as the dancers shimmied and swayed across the dance floor. The numbers painted on the performers’ cheeks were an especially adorable detail.
“Ghetto Blaster” encouraged the same levels of audience enthusiasm. However, where “Countdown” worked best as an ensemble piece, “Ghetto Blaster” was more of a platform to show off the individual dancers. Each dancer had a small solo, a moment to break, pop, or lock to this remix of MIA. Although the dancers’ colorful pants easily distinguished them from one another, the talent was the same across the board.
“The Big Bang Bang,” “Anaconda,” and “The Party Don’t Start Till We Walk In” played as the sassy sister pieces of the production. “The Big Bang Bang” had a lovely sense of humor, employing at different points a graduation cap and finger guns to match the song’s lyrics. The solo done by Lucas McLaughlin ’15 deserves an infinite number of props. “Anaconda” accomplished something on its own, arranging over 10 dancers on stage in a coherent booty-popping fashion. “The Party Don’t Start Till We Walk In” did the same, only this time with glitter.
The chair-stamping fun admittedly dropped during “Hard to Love” and “Home,” which were nonetheless lovely pieces. One of the more contemporary works of the show, “Hard to Love” challenged its 10 dancers in neon green and pink to use their height and featured frequent jetés across the floor and attitude turns. Impressively, the piece also employed a number of fouettés. “Home” had the most somber tone, as dancers in all black worked across the stage in a number of interesting leg extensions.
“Sunflower” was perhaps the most baffling and thought-provoking piece in the entire show. Over Björk music, 13 dancers in masks moved dramatically across the stage in various stilted poses, culminating in the shape of a flower. Overall, the piece worked. The empty eyes of the dancers’ masks were enough to send a small shudder down one’s back. If this work was truly about the life and the death of a sunflower, then the choreographer succeeded.
“Helen” was also puzzling at times. Made up of one of the larger ensembles, the piece was a random, funny, and captivating work. Perhaps the fun came from the trying to find friends and classmates in a sea of people sporting black bobs, white shirts, and red lipstick. There was also a real camp as the dancers twirled, shook, and smeared lipstick across their faces.
The tap dancing piece performed by WeShuffle, Wesleyan’s Tap Collective, was a welcome sight. Tap dancing is an art form that has recently become very niche, relegated to mostly musical numbers and Broadway shows. Set to Matt and Kim’s “Daylight,” the tapping was collectively crisp and clear.
Following this piece and retaining its musical energy, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” was simply a triumph. Opening the second act of the show, the piece plunged the audience into one of the goofiest, most awesome dance pieces I have seen in awhile. Employing the help of more than 20 dancers dressed as elephants, zebras, monkeys, and birds, the choreography re-enacted the beloved Disney musical number. Zazu, Simba, and Nala were all present; the three dancers lip-synced unabashedly to the words. The piece did a great job of creating an original work out of a long overdone number. The sincerity, the love, and the childhood memories were all there.
The final performance carried a stirring change in tone. “Change” felt the most intimate, showcasing the nine members of Terp Core. Wearing white shirts and red or black pants, the dancers moved across the stage in lovely configurations, provoking a feeling of calmness and peace. The ensemble still remembered to wink at the audience with a little butt pop at the end before launching the entire Terp team into a rousing rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”
Watching dancers shimmying and pulling audience members onstage as they celebrated a successful show, I reflected on how wonderful Terp really is. It was a pleasure to watch for an hour and deserves all the hype and excitement it receives every semester. Terpsichore succeeded in encouraging the idea that dance is and for everyone.