This past weekend, seven sophomore and junior dance majors presented new works in the annual Spring Dance Concert. Their choreography revealed incredible creativity and emotional range, incorporating a variety of sounds, from pop music to breaking glass.
The opening dance, “Aren’t They Delightful?” by Adriana Phillips ’18, was a powerhouse of a piece that reflected on girlhood and growing up. Wearing bright colors and long-sleeved shirts tied around their waists, the four dancers (Vera Benkoil ’18, Megan Dolan ’17, Diana Dominguez ’18, and Arden Feil ’18) pranced around the space, waved energetically to the audience, and faced off in various clapping games, transforming the barren stage into a lively schoolyard. They also told stories, recited individually but sometimes simultaneously, about different aspects of their childhood such as getting rejected by a crush, discovering deodorant, or forgetting to shave their legs.
Phillips’ piece concluded with a dark variation on a phrase and a set of movements repeated throughout, in which the four dancers stumbled into one another and chorused, “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!” During the final sequence, Dolan broke away from the rest of the group and became increasingly distraught, before collapsing in front of the other dancers and uttering a last, desperate “Sorry!” Although open to interpretation, the ending suggested a tragic loss of innocence and corresponding alienation from one’s peers.
The following piece, “Dreamscape” by Monica Sun ’18, was the shortest of the evening. It featured two dancers, Bryan Goldstein ’18 and Ocean Gao ’19, moving across the space languidly and almost soporifically while dressed in subdued purples and browns. The gong-like music and minimal lighting contributed to the dream-like effect.
The piece of Rachel Davis ’18, “Just Before Dawn,” on the other hand, combined the thrill of club dancing with the grace of ballet. The flashing strobe lights and edgy electronic music complemented the all-black outfits of the four dancers (Isabel Goldstein ’19, Liz Mitts ’18, Darcy Neureiter ’19, and Sofia Navarrete Zur ’19), whose long, swishing hair was elegantly folded into the choreography. Neuriter’s solo footwork was particularly impressive, displaying a nimbleness no doubt integral to her varsity field hockey career.
The final piece before the intermission was by Amira Ottley ’18, “The most repeated line.” Another highlight, the dance incorporated Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” to dystopian effect. Although the piece was initially upbeat, with all five performers (Laurel QingXan Comins-Sporbert ’18, Sarah Regan ’18, Steven Fields ’19, Elana Rosenberg ’19, and Anna Marie Rosenlieb ’19) smiling and capering as if genuinely cheerful, it soon turned grim. During an interlude of crackly static, the dancers’ movements became more robotic and forced, and at one point, they all screamed in unison. When “Everyday People” resumed, this time in the form of a Jeff Buckley cover, the dancers were transformed into a single machine, each person grinning fiendishly as their limbs worked together like gears. This Orwellian ending hinted at the terrifyingly conformist potential of an otherwise lighthearted song.
The second half of the show opened with Nick Daley ’17’s “Hyperbole High,” whose choose-your-own-costume aesthetic set the tone for the choreography, with each dancer performing in pedestrian garb. Containing stomps, hops, and a spotlit dance-off, the piece was short on technical sophistication but clearly a pleasure for the five dancers (Emma Distler ’19, Erik Hall ’16, Carli Poisson ’18, Jacob Sussman ’17, and Kathryn Wheeler ’17) to perform.
The next piece, “A blur” by Wan Tat Abraham Tse ’18, was far darker in tone. A quote in the program from Martha Manning revealed that the dance would embody depression’s “slow erosion of the self.” Three dancers (Tiffany Coons ’18, Julia DeVarti ’17, and Maddy Paull ’19) in open-backed hospital gowns alternated between moving listlessly and frantically across the stage, accompanied by an excruciating soundtrack of shattering glass. As this sound effect segued into falling rain and then “Fourth of July” by Sufjan Stevens, the performers became more animated, as if awakening from their anguished gloom. However, the piece’s conclusion, in which one dancer struggled to break free from the other two’s grasps, underscored the devastating chronicity of depression.
The show closed with a performance by Sophie Miller ’17 “Sir Curious Johnson,” a dance that combined the fluid synchronicity and social critique of the evening’s strongest pieces. Featuring a few repeat performers (Dolan and Comins-Sporbert) as well as several new faces (Molly Cohn ’18, Viviane Eng ’18, and Katie Lowen ’19), the choreography poked fun at commercialized romance without denying the dancers the joy of its upbeat gestures. A fitting finale to a delightful display of Wesleyan talent, the piece underscored this year’s dance majors’ ability to be both inventive and insightful.