Last weekend, UNCG’s Dance Department hosted its 2016 Spring Dances, a concert where spring repertory courses for dance undergraduates and graduate students are able to showcase what they have learned throughout the semester. With four performances in total with 50 dancers, the culmination of the spring semester was considered a success among professors and audience members alike.
Cynthia Ling Lee, assistant professor of dance at UNCG, addressed the crowd before the show, acknowledging the hard work of the students and addressing Nathan Trice and Duane Cyrus, both guest artists.
Trice and Cyrus helped choreograph and direct the performance, “Conversations,” which has been selected to represent the Mid-Atlantic Region at the American College Dance Association in June 2016 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. This is the third year in a row that UNCG dances have been chosen to be performed at the American College Dance Association.
The first dance performed was “STANCE,” choreographed by B.J. Sullivan with music by Les Tambours du Bronx. The music began with heavy percussive sounds mimicking footsteps or stomping, similar to that of an army or military. The dances wore shades of black, beige and olive green. The lights slowly illuminated the stage and revealed three dancers sitting before they began their routine. Their movements went from waving positions and motions, before other dancers began to join in. In total, 16 dancers performed in this piece. Their moves were graceful yet combat-like in their demeanor and it ended with eight dancers on each side of the stage, facing each other.
“Name of the Game by the Fantastic Four,” was the second dance, directed by B.J. Sullivan. It was a fun, refreshing piece after the more serious first act. This dance featured a quartet of dancers and audience input. Two dancers explained that their performance would be a type of improv and asked the audience to choose the topic they would dance, act and talk about. The options the audience came up with were: memories, confrontations and home.
The topic of “home” received the most applause during their Saturday matinee. They seemed to be having conversations with each other and simultaneously performing a monologue, describing what the concept of home meant to them.
The dancers seemed to jump around from memories: including where they came from, how they received their own names, stories about their lovers and memories from their childhood. They portrayed funny anecdotes about wanting tree houses, planting trees and pulling them out as they were saplings to prove their existence, reminiscing about family members they never got to meet. They told heart wrenching tales through continuous moving and dancing throughout the production.
It was an interconnected litany of thoughts on thoughts as the dancers’ voices all seemed to meld into one. They all spoke about a different topic with the only similarity being that it started out as “home.” Though this dance was introduced as improvised performance, some of it was choreographed as well.
“Conversations,” the dance that will be performed at the American College Dance Association was poignant, gripping and by far the most emotionally appealing and draining dance of the show. Featuring 10 dancers, they each performed — often in pairs — slowly, in haste and with synchronized individuality. Though there was no speaking, the dialogue and tension could be felt through the fluid movements of the dancers as they portrayed a conversation, debate, love and arguments.
After a brief intermission, the dancers continued with “Flights of Fancy,” choreographed by Janet Jilly with contributions from the dancers. The backdrop began as a bright blue light and later changed to green and finally pink as the dancers leaped, twirled and swayed in front of the colorful backdrop. The score for this song was eerie, carnival-like and the dancers gave the impression of stilted movements as if they were trapped or striving to escape.
During the performance, a man sat in front of a fan and sang while paper airplanes were thrown onto the stage and dancers skateboarded across the stage. In the end, a stack of papers was placed in front of the fan and fanned across the stage. “Flights of Fancy,” intention was to capture the serendipity, misadventures and stolen moments within life and had 27 dancers in total.
“A Rubric for Lace,” choreographed by Cristal Brown, was the final installment of the UNCG Spring Dances 2016. It began with the dancers on stage, with the floor dimly lit. The dancers did a lot of groundwork and several seemed to shake in tune with the music. The score began slow and dark but soon changed to a light, refreshing and upbeat classical tune.