Don’t Say it, Show it: ‘Dancevent’ dazzles with contemporary choreography and thoughtful conception


Hosted by College of William and Mary dance faculty and Orchesis Modern Dance Company, Saturday night’s six-act “Dancevent” brought the audience pleasure both visually and audibly.

Strong and expressive choreography, vivid portrayal from dancers, perfectly matched costumes, appropriate lighting and music and even the shadows on the stage composed an unforgettable viewing experience.

Choreographed by associate professor of dance Denise Damon Wade, the show started with “After the Four,” which was divided into three sections: Apocalypse, Difficult Conversations, and Rising from the Ashes. Drawing inspiration from the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, the dance expressed the endless cycle of conquest, war, famine and death.

The symbolism of revitalization was interesting even without the explanatory flyer: some dancers took off armbands which represented mourning for dancers who had already lied down and “passed away,” followed by the sudden fall of the rest of the dancers. Dancers then rose up from the stage floor, completing the “rebirth.”

The next dance was “Placeless,” directed by Vicki Fink, adjunct instructor in the dance department. Aiming to convey the idea of statelessness and forced displacement, the dance was not limited by the stage. Dancers jumped off the stage to express the concept of separation. The monk style cross-front clothes and warm tone background light also amplified the theme of loneliness.

“Lynchtown” ended the first half of the event as a tribute to the renowned choreographer Charles Weidman. Reconstructed by professor of dance and Director Leah Glenn, the show recreated the violent and bizarre vibe it had when first performed in 1936. Dancers portrayed a sacrifice-like scene vividly by dancing in a circle with ritualistic body movements. While one dancer wore red, the rest of the dancers were all dressed in plain-colored clothes, symbolizing the prey and predator relationship expressed in the dance.

The second half of the performance opened with a short film. The video began with a woman facing a mirror in a bathroom. It then switched to a dancing male and later transitioned and showed two female dancers.

The film then placed emphasis on the three dancers but still called back to the woman in the bathroom from time to time. The meaning was not revealed until the very end of the film: the dancing group was a reflection of the woman’s inner world.

The next dance, entitled “The Facts Between,” was inspired by  Glenn’s study abroad experience in Cape Town, South Africa. It presented a mixture of poetry recitation and dance. The primitive-style music and spoken word of Capetonians helped express “the disparities that are cloaked in the beauty and richness of the dance.” The orange-toned background light transported the audience to the sunset in Cape Town.

Last but not least, “BreakDown” offered a memorable ending to “Dancevent.” Choreographed by professor of dance Joan Gavaler along with the performers, the dance interpreted an interesting question, “What happens when a jukebox plays for the last time?” Though this piece won the most laughs during the showcase, performer Elizabeth King ’20 had more to say.

“While it’s a tragedy because we are ‘playing for the last time,’ it’s supposed to be kind of comical too,” King said. “So, what I really like about this performance is that they really give you a character to play, instead of just movement that you are contriving to.”

The futuristic silver costumes and the coin-dropping sound that implies the start of the jukebox contributed to what was the most whimsical and bittersweet dance of the night.

Viewers gave the performance high praise, reacting with cheers and applause that seemed to go on forever.

“I think this is really cool,” Grace Liscomb ’23 said. “Especially considering it’s made by our faculty and performers.”

“This show has entirely changed my perception of beauty,” said Sara Xu, a member of the Williamsburg community. “I used to think skinny bodies are the only beautiful ones, but I see such unbelievable strength in tonight’s performance and I know I love it.”

“Dancevent” made an impact on the audience and performers alike. Its unique structure and diverse inspirations covered a wide variety of topics and issues that are relevant today. 


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