Thursday night: The lights of Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall dim, a hush falls over the gathered audience, the warm stage buzzes with anticipation, anxiety and excitement.
p. Who’s taking the stage, dazzling the eyes of Williamsburg denizens with charm, grace and fluidity? Not an internationally renowned entertainer or a Russian ballet superstar. No, just a group of 26 dedicated students.
p. “This is one of the most exciting shows I’ve ever seen,” Orchesis Performance Ensemble President, Rebecca Ruel ’08, said. “I’m so amazed with these girls and boys.”
p. Ruel, along with other members of the group, choreographed dances for this spring’s show, “An Evening of Dance.” She developed two pieces, including a grand finale that incorporates all the dancers, 40-foot poles and silver wrapping paper.
p. The other, a piece entitled “Ebb and Flow,” “captures the imagery, emotion and movement that was first inspired while dancing on the beach,” according to the night’s program.
p. According to Ruel, the motivation behind the piece came from an attempt to express a liberating experience. Through modern dance, with the help of flowing scarves and poised balance, Ruel completes her final composition at the College.
p. Another student-choreographed piece for the upcoming show includes dance entitled “A la Caida de la Tarde.” Hannah Goldberg ’10 choreographed this dance with fellow dancer Elizabeth Foss ’10. The composition is “a flamenco-inspired piece emphasizing strong, sensual womanhood,” according to the program. Each dancer represents a different color of the sunset. The flirtatious dance both celebrates the individuality of each girl and unifies the the group as they come together at the end.
p. Many individuals involved with Orchesis bring years of dance experience to the group. Ruel began dancing 20 years ago and was a competitive gymnast in high school. Like many of the Orchesis members, she developed more experience with modern dance through courses that taken at the College.
p. “I like the atmosphere a lot better than competitive dance, especially because of the comraderie. There’s also an emphasis on not having boundaries,” Ruel said.
p. She said she relishes the individuality thacomes with creatively exploring yourself in the courses offered at the College, yet also takes pleasure in learning and drawing support from a close-knit group of peers.
p. Many of the dancers take comfort the group atmosphere, claiming that Orchesis feels more like a big family.
p. “Dance is definitely my rock,” Goldberg said.
p. Goldberg, a dance minor, has been training since she was three, having performed with her high school’s dance team and worked extensively in ballet.This semester, she is enrolled in a modern dance technique class and dance competition, a class that incorporate the choreogaphy of instructors at the College. Camille Shand ’08 has been dancing for 18 years. She credits the College’s dance department with helping her to become more of an organic dancer.
p. “[Dance is] a release for yourself,” Shand said. “It helps you forget [about stress] for a while.”
p. She conveys both nerves and excitement during the dance she choreographed with Christie Langlois ’10, “Be Still My Heart.” The composition, set to the song “Asleep” by Album Leaf, “enacts a conflict between two desires,” according to the program. Shand characterizes the dance as being the embodiment of the emotional experience of being torn between two different courses of action.
Another unique piece that embraces the originality of modern dance is “Awakening”, choreographed by Lauren Williams ’09.
According to the program, “Shand” “is about overcoming the numbness that hardship often brings.” The concept originated from the musical Indian composition “Anoushka Shankar” by Karsh Kale.
p. Orchesis will perform “An Evening of Dance,” tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. Tickets will be sold at the door for $8.