UNCG’s Prime Movers student-led organization, in conjunction with the UNCG Dance Department, held a performance at the Jan Van Dyke Performance Space in downtown Greensboro on Saturday.
Prime Movers gives the opportunity for dance majors to choreograph dances and present them to the Greensboro community. Dance majors and non-dance majors alike are able to perform in these works.
“It is a space for creative minds to come together and put on a production,” said Jurne Smith, a Prime Movers’ dancer.
“Threnody” is a piece created by Arlynn Zachary who is currently a UNCG MFA choreographer and is the Founder and Artistic Director of THE MARK dance company.
“I had been wanting to choreograph a piece about embodying the process of lamenting for quite a while. The music that I chose for the piece was composed by a friend of mine, Henry Breneman Stewart,” Zachary said. “The title of his composition is ‘Threnody,’ which just so happens to mean ‘a lament.’”
The soloist, Alexis Clanin, arrives on the stage with an open-backed, multi-strapped, black top and a black floor length, triple-layered skirt that resembles a ballroom gown. The top layer of the skirt is sheer, and the bottom two layers are opaque which allows the dance to manipulate the top layer of the skirt, so her torso, face and arms can be seen by the audience.
“I have had the costume for about five years now, and finally had the opportunity to use it for a piece that I thought it would fit with [conceptually],” Zachary said.
At first, there was no music or sound. She was hiding in the skirt as if she was trapped. Shortly, in the dark blue lighting, the cry of a violin compliments the emotion of the dancer. Her graceful movements perfectly matched the tempo of the music. She reached out to the audience with the dress as if she was asking for someone to come help her. There was a moment when she walks with the sheer layer of the skirt over her head towards the audience, she spun around briskly and broke out and run as if she was searching for help.
Zachary choreographed the piece in spring of 2017 as a final project for a class in graduate school. She used principles she had learned from William Forsythe’s improvisational prompts. Then, Zachary had Alexis Clanin, a freshman at the time, perform the dance.
“It was a very rigorous process between myself and the dancer on what was possible with the limitations of the skirt in this respect,” Zachary said. “However, it was also a great experiment on how to use the costume as a prop and relate it within this type of framework to the moving body.”
Zachary did not reveal the backstory for the dance’s concept because she said it “is a secret between my dancer and I.”
“The public version, is that I wanted the female character to fully embody what it means to lament something. What does lamenting look like? How does the body respond internally and externally to that type of stimuli?” Zachary asked.
Another performance, “Temporary Reign,” was choreographed by Ariana Guzman. It was a contemporary dance piece performed at the show. The dance had a series of groups, duets and trios. The dancers’ costumes were pedestrian-style with an earthy color scheme of green, brown and black.
“The goal was to not take too much away from the dance, but to instead highlight the concept of being able to be individuals within a group,” Jurne Smith said.
According to Smith, Ariana Guzman explained it best when she said, “The piece was about as we move through life, there are certain moments that force us to hit pause, to process, to heal, and to understand. During these moments we sometimes choose to rewind through the memories of our past, analyze them, if we are comfortable, we might choose to hit play again.” The static-like music displayed this concept in an entertaining way.
The dance showcased all the choreographer’s and the dancers special moments when they had “paused, rewinded, and moved on.”
Then, “Clothesline” choreographed by Jena Barton, is a contemporary piece with a groovy feel to it. The dance can make one feel as if they are in a videogame with dark and bright blue lights with funky house music playing in the background. The dancers’ costumes gave off a “faint” and “dull” appearance.
“Jena, the choreographer for this piece, picked out this neutral color and costume to represent how society tries to put the same standards on everyone without taking into account that everyone is different and that everyone comes from different backgrounds,” said Adrienne Powell, a Prime Mover’s dancer.
Following a slow portion of the dance, it picked up with excitement and a lot of partner work. There were various manipulations of the body, swift movements and it felt like a dance number coming from a movie. Towards the end of the dance, it gave off a Michael Jackson “Thriller” feel with the group coming from upstage to downstage into the audience acting as if they were monsters who were out to attack you. “Enough!,” yelled one of the dancers who stood in the middle of the stage. The dancers in the audience turned around and quietly exited the stage.
“‘Clothesline,’ was pretty much about being angry and frustrated with the different problems in the world right now or in our personal lives as the dancers,” Powell said. “It doesn’t have a classic narrative, but there’s a what feels like subtle from inside the dance idea of not conforming to the world around you even though you’re frustrated that no one’s listening to you.
The show was a rejuvenating experience with different styles of the contemporary genre, including some offbeat aspects using mature content. One should look forward to the next performance by the Prime Movers.