It goes without saying that the Orchesis Modern Dance Company provides entertainment, spectacle and provocative artistic performance. “An Evening of Dance” highlighted the combination of thoughtful themes with stunning movement created by its company members. It is also noteworthy to mention the amount of patience and strength that is required to carry on after a 16-minute hold due to sound malfunction at the top of the show.
The 11 student-choreographed pieces included a variety of music genres, themes and emotions, from group performances to a solo.
Beginning with “Eyes Closed and Traveling,” choreographed by Carrie Byrne ’20 and Antonella Nicholas ’20, the show started off strongly. Athletic, interactive and visually captivating, the dancers’ skills were highlighted with the help of the energetic music and silhouettes and shadows provided by the lighting design.
“Unconditional” featured the music of local band Talk to Plants. Choreographed by Emma Lather ’19, this lo-fi, ethereal piece featured a gradient from red to blue. It highlighted the dynamic of support and connection with the tension of discord.
Arguably one of the most energetic pieces, Jillian Marzziotti ’20 and Moira McDermott ’20 created “Reach” with pop house music in a somewhat competitive dynamic between three dancers and a fourth who separates from the rest.
“Which Transcends All Understanding,” the only solo of the evening, performed by the talented Hailey Arindaeng ’18, was not a disappointment by any means. Choreographed by Arindaeng herself, the piece seemed to tell the story of one at war with her mind. The strain between power versus control is hard-fought internally, and Arindaeng did a masterful job of communicating that sentiment.
The sleepy purple hues of the fifth piece, “Träume,” mixed well with Ludwig van Beethoven’s recognizable “Moonlight Sonata.” Choreographers Nicole Audia ’20 and Madison Renner ’20 captured what it might be like if dreams were choreographed in perfect synchronicity. Toward the end, the dancers accentuated the energy of wakefulness before falling back into a restful slumber.
The final dance of the first act, “Sect,” came across as a cult-like hellscape, a stark contrast from the previous piece. Choreographer Kate Archambault ’18 put her dancers in plain frocks, demanding uniformity and lack of individuality. A leader of the dancers seemed to be poisoning the minds of her followers in order to control them. Ending with the motif of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” the powerful movements of all six dancers created a cathartic story of restraint and mind-washing.
“Origins of Descent” was the first dance in the second act, with choreography by Jessica Pitts ’19. Conceptually, this piece was one of the best in execution. The rumblings of the music equated to the creation of the earth, followed by the formation and evolution of man, rife with conflict, violence and development. Visually-speaking, this piece integrated every form of production, from music to lights to costume to movement, seamlessly.
The eighth piece of the evening, “Awakes,” faced a bit of trouble about a third of the way through when the music cut out for a long 10 seconds. However, the dancers did not miss a single beat, continuing the dance, and seemed to pick up exactly where the music cut back in. Choreographer Tovah Klein ’18 included very serious and professional dancers, communicating her theme of the human condition.
“da pe trois” had a clever lilt to it, as choreographer Maddie Doherty ’18 provided a play on the customary pas de trois. Her distorted versions of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” provided a clever and intriguing take on the identifiable movements and songs we recognize in traditional dance. Even the costumes gave a mixed-up feeling with mismatched lengths on the arms and legs of the costumes.
The power behind the choreography of Courtney Wiley ’18 was accentuated beautifully in her piece, “Holistic Well-Being.” The gradient of colors and beat behind the strings in the music translated the themes of mobility and strength in an aesthetically-pleasing fashion.
Finally, the entire company came together to perform a group piece choreographed by Arindaeng. “Elements” divided the company into the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water. With the help of costumes, light and movement, the dancers perfectly captured the character and energy behind each element. Each element received its own moment, and Arindaeng even included times where groups interacted with one another, finally culminating in the unity of all four elements.
It would be a shame not to mention the outstanding lighting design provided in this evening of dance. Madelaine Foster ’18, Christopher McDonnell ’18, Alex Poirier ’19 and Jordan Leek ’17 all contributed to each piece with their thoughtful and beautiful lighting design, including spotlights, windows, gradients and silhouettes.
“An Evening of Dance” made for a far from wasted night. It was a joy to witness the work and talent of Orchesis. The athletic strength and graceful balance of each performer was memorable and inspiring, with every element working together in tandem.