A stunning showstopper: Orchesis Modern Dance Company presents dazzling performances, artistic expressions


March 30-April 2, the College of William and Mary’s modern dance company, Orchesis, presented its annual spring concert, “An Evening of Dance.” The show consisted of eight original student-choreographed pieces, each portraying a unique and thought-provoking story. 

The show opened with a piece entitled “Breaking Surface,” choreographed by Allison Foley 25. The theme of the performance centered around moving beyond surface-level relationships in order to form deeper connections with others. In the piece, the performers represented this idea through breaking past the surface of a body of water into the depths below, as expressed through the blue and tan colored costumes that the dancers wore, along with the fluidity of their movements during the performance.

The second piece, titled “Mortal Coil,” was choreographed by Grace Cogley 25. It featured five dancers and focused on the idea of a community being created in the aftermath of turmoil and hardship. The music that played during this specific performance included the sounds of breathing, which helped create the image of someone struggling to keep pushing forward. There was a great deal of partner work between the different dancers in the piece as well, which portrayed the importance of having people to depend on. 

Next, the show changed its mood with an upbeat piece entitled “Spoken, Heard and Twisted,” choreographed by Julia Mitchell 24. The piece explored the way that rumors are spread and can be distorted by word of mouth. It was high-energy and fast-paced. The dance included several different agile and acrobatic movements and tricks. 

“The music mirrors us talking back and forth with each other, being really surprised and using a lot of facial expressions,” Saayeh Zarei 26, a member of the Orchesis Dance Company, said. “It feels like the dancers are acting in them.” 

Zarei was also a part of the next piece in the show, “Inherited Unrest.” Choreographed by Amanda Gill 23, it represents the process of moving forward after experiencing a great failure. Zarei described how this piece, along with the other performances in the Orchesis show, have strong emotion behind them. 

“The emotion is different in that it’s not as much theatrical as much as you’re really feeling it and getting into the nitty-gritty of the emotions that you’re feeling when experiencing failure,” Zarei said. 

Gill’s piece incorporated chairs as props and strong movements from the dancers that matched the intensity of the music. A stand-out moment in the choreography was a switch leap across the stage from Brianna Howell 25.

Following this, “Strings of Fate” was a particularly memorable piece in the show due to its intense music and red string prop that kept the dancers physically connected to each other as their movements progressed. However, the next performance, “Onto the Next…” stood out as the only piece in the show that was choreographed by two Orchesis members, Cameron Lynch 23 and Amy Wolgin 23. Because the co-choreographers are seniors set to graduate this semester, the piece represented the two’s perceptions on growing up, moving on and preparing for what comes next in life.

“We wanted to make a piece that reflected the stage of life that we’re at right now,” Wolgin said, reflecting on the heavy nature of the performance.

This transition that was the subject of the piece was metaphorically shown by the dancers starting the act wearing neutral tones before changing into vibrant, colorful leotards and skirts. It was further amplified and accompanied by a drastic change in music and lighting. As the piece became happier and more upbeat, the dancers seemed less scared and alone, emblematic of the message of coming into one’s own. 

“That was something we really wanted to emphasize with our dancers — feeling connected with each other, as well as to the dance itself,” Lynch said. 

Orchesis President Holly Stefanick 23 subsequently performed a self-choreographed solo piece entitled “Nothing Gold.” Inspired by the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by famous American writer Robert Frost, the piece represents accepting change while also reminiscing fondly on past memories. The performance also showcased Stefanick’s technical strengths as a dancer. 

Finally, the show ended with a piece featuring the entire company, also choreographed by Stefanick. “The Hands of Time” represented the general hardships endured in life and the joy that can be found as a result. The infectious energy that radiated from each dancer was undeniable, creating a show that was impossible to look away from. 

Overall, the show provided not only the dancers, but also audience members with an exceptional experience filled with impressive and acrobatic performances that were imbued with deep and profound significance.


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