The Dance Department does it Again with “Dance Escape”

Applause! Applause! Smoke and praise filled the dimly lit Claire Trevor Theater for the dance department’s latest production, “Dance Escape.” Grads and undergrads come together to showcase their skill in both performance and choreography, and the result is pure art in motion.

Each piece is choreographed by a graduate dance student, while the undergrad performers have each auditioned for one of the coveted spots in the night’s lineup. Those with the strongest auditions had the honor of being part of the production. Each dance reflects the different personalities and artistic styles of the grad students. From ballet to jazz, and African to tap; there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

The first piece, “Someone or Anyone” by Cara Scrementi, set the bar high for the night’s performances. As the red curtain rose, the dancers immediately captured the audience’s attention with their strength, grace and control as they seamlessly danced across the stage in modern and flowing motions. The intricate use of lighting highlighted the emotion of the piece. Each aspect of the production added a layer of depth and meaning to the performance.

Jie Lin How’s “Nymphéas,” a delicate but intense ballet, showed off the dancers’ grace as they effortlessly glided and pirouetted across the stage in flowing red, blue and green costumes.

Unlike the first two selections, “Ende Neu” by Boroka Nagy featured only one performer, Carl Cubero. Much more aggressive and acrobatic than the first two pieces, it was a sharp contrast that kept the audience captivated. Cubero did an excellent job as a solo performer. The minimal use of lighting highlighted the pain and emotion told through the choreography.

Dawning red headpieces, the dancers took the stage for the next work “Hope is the Thing with Feathers.” Gunta Liepina, in collaboration with the undergrads, delivered an insightful showcase culminating in a rain of feathers angelically falling to the stage from an unseen mount overhead.

“Just Enough or Maybe Too Much,” choreographed by Jess Harper, was a heart-pounding and brilliant flurry of aggressive jazz and hip-hop inspired combinations. The use of dystopian costumes, tasteful music, spazzing dancers and eccentric stage lighting wrapped up the first portion of the concert in a dynamic and awe inspiring fashion that showed off the choreographer’s exceptional talent, and left the audiences begging for more in the second half.

Following a brief intermission, Leann Alduenda’s “In the Round” kicked off the final portion of the show. The tap dance’s rhythmic complexities reflected the refined skill of both the choreographer and the dancers. The group’s charming stage presence was infectious among the smiling audience members –– even eliciting a collective laugh as they ended their showcase by taking a selfie.

A much darker piece, “The Four Loves” by Michelle Blackwell, followed next. Without words, a story of love is told through the fluid bodies of the dancers –– at first aggressive, then delicate. The story takes many twists, taking the audience along with it.

Darlisa Wajid-Ali’s “5-7-9-3” was truly a departure from the commonplace. Instead of music, the dance incorporates coordinated rhythmic breathing and grounded heavy steps from the performers. The result was reminiscent of traditional African dancing; a rarity in the States and a pleasure to watch.

Ending the night’s concert was “Jack, Jills and Jazz” by Amelia Unsicker. The piece showcased a variety of styles from partner dancing to classic jazz. The stage design was especially prevalent in this selection; backdrops and live musicians set the ambience for this fantastic close to a wonderful concert.

The artistic excellence of “Dance Escape” is a reflection of the countless hours and dedication these performers spend mastering and executing their craft. The sophistication behind the various choreographies reflects the world class nature of the Claire Trevor School’s dance department. Each and every performer and choreographer should be proud of the excellent work they have contributed.