This past weekend, six senior dance majors showcased their year-long choreographic explorations at the Patricelli ’92 Theater. Consisting of three evening performances that took place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the presentations encompassed an eclectic medley of choreographic styles. The show featured the work of seniors Trinithas Boyi, Eury German, Lakisha Gonsalves, Sarah Greizer, Ari Kaufman, and Djibril Sall. While German and Greizer’s works were year-long thesis projects, the other works were capstone projects that they developed over the course of this semester.
As a performance space with a small seating capacity, the ’92 fostered a close relationship between spectators and dancers. The show was an intimate one, during which the audience’s emotional reactions were visibly in tune with those evoked by performers on stage. Indeed, the Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert functioned primarily as a dialogue between audience members and performers. Throughout the show, viewers were challenged to develop their own interpretations of each piece, taking cues from the dancers’ movements, music choices, and lighting elements.
German’s piece—an evocative duet that he performed alongside Nick Daley ’17—opened the show. Dressed in street clothes and standing on opposite diagonals of the stage, they began with sharp movements that played with levels and synchronization. Interspersed among these crisp gestures were tender moments of suspension, characterized by flowing, weighty choreography, which captured the emotional force of the piece as a whole.
Titled “balance me between your eyes,” German’s piece was an incredibly revealing exploration of the ebbs and flows of human intimacy. During moments of stillness, when movement was replaced by an outpour of emotional vulnerability between the two dancers, the audience collectively held their breath. They were entranced by the honesty of the human connection conveyed on the stage, the narrative of a relationship that grew increasingly personal.
“[German’s piece] was one of the most thoughtful choreographic works I’ve seen in a while,” said attendee Chiara Bercu ’19. “It’s rare and powerful to see two male bodies interact and portray such closeness on a stage.”
German incorporated unconventional artistic choices throughout his work, such as using silence as a backdrop to place more of a focus on the choreography and, at one point, having him and Daley sing a portion of Dean Martin’s “Sway.” As the piece ran on, the distance between the dancers gradually closed. They moved closer together, removed articles of clothing, and allowed themselves to dance as a unit.
Other works such as Kaufman’s “the falling into” provided commentary on exhaustion, falling, and failure. He and three other dancers (Sonya Levine ’17, Claire Marshall ’17, and Sophie Miller ’17) ran and crashed in hard-hitting rolls on the surface of the stage, spending minutes chasing one another and falling with audible thuds. Though certainly thought-provoking and experimental, the piece was perhaps characterized by a degree of self-awareness that was too conceptual for its own good.
Kaufman’s choreography took audience members on a journey that was funny, unexpected, and completely zany, but at times, the dance capitalized too much on its eccentricity, making its narrative less effective. That being said, Kaufman and his dancers succeeded in reminding the audience to reflect on the many connotations of falling. In that sense, the piece achieved its goal.
Overall, the Senior Thesis Concert provided an exciting opportunity to view the work produced by dance majors at Wesleyan. Though it was difficult for audience members to grasp the shifts in tone from piece to piece, the performances offered an accurate snapshot of University’s dance program: one filled with ambitious, out-of-the-box thinkers who hope to revolutionize the way that we think about dance.
This article has been updated to correct factual errors.