This past weekend, Precision Dance Ensemble held its annual performance showcase, which featured various styles of choreographed dances. This year, Precision, the oldest student-run dance company on campus, turned 22, leading to the apt show title “Terrible Twos.” Consisting of 10 performance pieces that took place on the Patricelli ’92 Theater stage, the show offered a chance for audience members to witness the sheer force of talent present in the University’s dance community.
Directors Eury German ’16 and Caroline Shadle ’16 strived to create a show that would showcase technically challenging choreography and engage audience members. Each piece in the Precision show featured original choreographic work produced and performed by ensemble members. The production aimed to highlight the extraordinary creative and technical capabilities of its members as both concert dancers and producers.
While the show focuses on synchronicity and eponymous precision, many choreographers in the ensemble did not collaborate to create a theme or an overarching concept to the production.
“The pieces we present are each created independently of one another and hence there is generally no unifying theme of the show,” Shadle said in reference to the show’s title. “We were aiming for something fun and enticing that wasn’t specific theme-wise to any of the pieces.”
Although every section had its own individual story and concept, there existed common motifs in movement that made the show feel more cohesive. In particular, cannon choreography—a structure in which movements introduced by one dancer are repeated exactly by subsequent dancers in turn—makes an appearance in more than one piece. Another common choreographic tie was the inclusion of body isolations, in which movement is limited to one part of the body, while the dancer otherwise remains still.
Because of the diverse nature of the show’s pieces, German and Shadle hesitated to articulate which was their favorite. Each dance presented in this year’s show exhibited the wide range of movement styles and technical abilities that the dancers have. One piece, titled “Move to the Ocean” and choreographed by German and Jennifer Swindlehurst Chan ’18, comprised powerful isolations and pulsating movement phrases that demonstrated the choreographers’ attention to musicality. This differed in tone from a number of pieces, including Jessie Abdow ’17’s “Buddy Check,” which featured light and airy partner work within lyrical choreography.
“It was rewarding for us to be able to present pieces that varied significantly but all demonstrated the technical proficiency, choreographic ingenuity, and professionalism of our dancers,” Shadle said.
The Ensemble’s mission to provide the Wesleyan community with an amazing show, however, is not accomplished overnight. Precision dancers spend late nights rehearsing their respective pieces each week, with rehearsals starting at the beginning of the semester. Choreographers schedule rehearsals for their pieces that range from one to three hours each week, and in addition act as dancers in their fellow ensemble members’ dances as well.
Though some dancers choose to only participate in one piece, they have the option to be involved in up to three pieces. Rachel Davis ’18, for example, choreographed a dance called “Kaleidoscope” and danced in both her own piece and another one. Finally, the entire group meets once a week to rehearse the collaborative finale piece, which showcases each Precision Ensemble member. As the performance draws nearer, rehearsals become more frequent.
“I thought each piece in Precision Ensemble’s Terrible Twos brought a different movement quality and energy and still maintained a high level of technicality,” Davis said. “To me, each piece was unique and memorable.”
Without a doubt, Precision Ensemble members are tremendously dedicated to their craft, and their work shows in the quality of their performances.
“All of its members demonstrate a deep dedication to the group through their tireless commitment to late-night rehearsals and the administrative tasks that allow Precision to continue to be an important part of the dance community at Wesleyan University,” German said.
In essence, the music, lighting, and technical capability of the ensemble enticed its audience and organized an extremely effective production. Students involved in all aspects of the show contributed to its production, and this collective effort came solely from the student body.
“It was nice to work with really only students throughout this process, as our stage manager, lighting designer, SBO, LBO, directors and assistant directors, and obviously the dancers are all students in various grades,” Davis said. “This makes this much more of a bonding and enjoyable experience.”
Thunderous applause followed the conclusion of each piece, accompanied by positive affirmations expressed through shouts throughout the show.
As the Precision Ensemble wraps up on their performance season, the directors urged that the community support their sister group, Precision Troupe, at their hip-hop showcase on April 29 at 10 p.m. on the Exley patio.
“Troupe’s performance is honestly the hottest show at Wes each year and everyone should be there!” Shadle said.