Oct. 27-30, the College of William and Mary’s Orchesis Modern Dance Company presented its fall show, “Dancevent,” at Kimball Theatre. Orchesis, a dance team composed of student dancers and instructed by professors, allows dancers to train and grow while receiving course credit.
The first piece of the night, “Wild… Life?” choreographed by Professor Denise Damon Wade, began with very animalistic choreography but during its progression, the dance humanized the dancers with the use of music and graceful qualities of movement.
“Wild… Life?” perfectly portrayed the parallels between people and animals not only in nature, but in relationships. The dancers executed the number in clean formation and with synchronicity. With its high entertainment value, “Wild… Life?” was a brilliant opener to the show.
“It meant not to take yourself so seriously and to enjoy the fun, quirky parts of life,” Orchesis member Ava Noce ’26 said, offering her take on the overall meaning of the piece.
The second piece was titled “Shifting Polarities” and was choreographed by Professor Joan Galaver. Galaver described the process to develop the unique scoring for the piece.
“I built the sound score from the dancers, rather than starting with the music,” Galaver said. “So we built the movement, and I created segments based on how long it took them to do the choreography.”
“Shifting Polarities” was a statement on isolation and interpersonal relations. The dramatic use of lighting at the beginning highlighted one dancer at a time while the rest of the ensemble seemingly cowered away. One standout moment of the dance occurred when dancers
Grace Cogley ’25 and Julia Mitchell ’24 were highlighted, and the audience was able to watch their internal struggles as they fought to make contact with one another. Their conflict is resolved at the end of the piece as the rest of the dancers lift Cogley and Mitchell. Cogley gave further explanation on the motifs and themes present in the dance.
“We’re trying to get to each other, and we climb over this boundary in between us and that talks about how the barriers between human connection are possible to break through,” Cogley said.
Next was “Broken Armor,” choreographed by Professor Vicki Fink. Whereas the other pieces so far had more concrete themes, the audience was able to make their own interpretation of this dance due to its ambiguity. The piece had the theme of breaking through one’s armor, so the dancers were allowed to interpret what that meant for themselves.
“I think one of the really cool things about the piece is [the choreographer] didn’t give us a really explicit story of like, ‘this is what it means to me, so this is what it means to you,’” Addy Normann ’23 said.
The choreography required a lot of strength. The highlight of the dance was its contrast between collectivism and individuality with the group making shapes and performing as a whole without washing out individual dancers and their artistry. Normann further spoke on how she was able to incorporate this theme of individuality into her personal performance. At the end of the piece, she breaks off from the group to close the gap between herself and the audience, potentially reflecting this sentiment of leaving dance behind.
“It is my last dance performance, so I was thinking how I have sort of used dance as an armor my whole life, and what it’s like to remove that,” Normann said.
The last ensemble piece was Professor Leah Glenn’s “All Kinds of Blue.” As the name suggests, the entirety of the dance was marked by blue.
“The costumes were blue, the music was blues — we fully committed to the bit,” Allison Foley ’25 said.
But because blue is generally associated with sadness and melancholy, many audience members were caught by surprise when the curtain opened on Foley, and an upbeat tune played. The piece was very entertaining as the audience was able to see the dancers genuinely having fun. Foley further emphasized the enjoyment she felt in performing this dance.
“It was exciting to use those movement qualities and dance in such a groovy, kind of jazzy way again, after not doing so for a while,” Foley said.
Not only did audience members appreciate this final dance, but they also expressed their admiration and awe for the show in its entirety.
“A great show. 10/10. Literally just one of the best shows I have ever seen,” attendee Cormac Masters ’23 said.