Dance ensemble to heat up Moore

by Brent Reidy | 5/24/02 5:00am

I've always wondered what modern dance really is, and frankly, I've always been sort of afraid of it. In the back of my mind it has sat in a little box with other new-age art forms that I'm sure I would not enjoy. All that changed during the past week, as I was lucky enough to see the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble rehearse for their upcoming shows on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in the Moore Theater.

According to ensemble director Ford Evans, modern dance originated at the beginning of the 20th century "in reaction to the traditions and conventions of classical ballet. Modern dancers took off their shoes, corsets and abandoned the tutu. They were in search of their own movement language."

Through the years, modern dance has evolved, constantly being redefined. New movement language, technique and style are always developing, pushing the boundaries of modern dance as an expressive art form.

The Dartmouth Dance Ensemble is in its third year of existence. The focus of the dance ensemble is to encourage the growth of developing choreographers and to introduce members to various styles within the scope of modern dance. The 19 members of the ensemble regularly rehearse five nights a week, as well as taking daily dance technique classes. This weekend's concerts are a culmination of a full year of work.

The group's dances are far ranging in emotional content and style. The dancers are sometimes playful, at other times fierce and menacing.

The show opens with a slow, lyrical piece set to music by Carol Orff. The dancers are sure to take their time performing each graceful move, forcing the audience to slow down from their busy Dartmouth lives and appreciate the beauty of the dance.

The last piece has sections set to a string quartet by Philip Glass. Evans choreographed the piece, and Valerie Gerry '03, as part of an independent study, created one section of it. The piece depicts the aloneness one feels in a world where others will not stop to take notice of another's pain.

Audience members are not told what to think when watching the dancers perform. They are presented with raw emotions and can interpret them how they wish.

Members of the ensemble choreographed a piece in a style they call "Mod-Hop," a modern dance take on hip-hop. The "Mod-Hop" piece has as much energy as a Fusion or Sheba show, but with more graceful and artistic moves. However, none of the joy is lost in the transition to modern dance.

It is impossible not to be emotionally moved by the show they are presenting. The dancers are not feigning emotion through dance; this genuineness touches the heart. During the run-through of Gerry's piece, I was nearly moved to tears. Being the only non-dancer in the room made me feel a bit out of place; I was too self-conscious to let these feelings show.

Do yourself a favor -- go see the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble's performances this weekend. After the chaos of last weekend's Green Key, take in some fine art. Go experience something amazing, something that will reach to the very roots of your being.