Dances of passion: Ensemble wows audiences in Moore

by Brent Reidy | 5/28/02 5:00am

Hours upon hours of work. Weeks of sweat and pain. Zealous months of dedication. An entire year's effort for one show.

The Dartmouth Dance Ensemble's performances in Moore Theater this past weekend were the culmination of all these things, and it showed in their high level of professionalism and ability to touch even the hardest of hearts, creating two highly memorable performances.

Sunday's show began with a playful dance set to music by Carl Orff. The dancers would constantly echo each other's movements, jumping, leaping and twirling about the stage. Judging from the expressions of the audience members, this interplay was engaging and enjoyable.

The next selection, "Clearing Place," presented a sobering change in emotion. It began with two dancers moving gracefully in pin-drop silence. Although the music of the first piece defined the actions of the dancers, it was clear from the beginning that music was not the driving force behind "Clearing Place." Music was conspicuously absent at times. Intentional or not, the only noises I could hear were the heavy breathing of the dancers and the sound of their feet striking the stage. These noises created a touching and dramatic effect.

I found the most enchanting part of the dance to be the constant physical pushing and pulling between dancers. Garbed in the drab attire of quaint domesticity, the physicality echoed the push and pull of everyday life.

Melinda Evans, a Hopkins Center Dance faculty member, took the stage for the next piece, "The Wait." True to its name, the piece portrayed the inner feeling of someone waiting for something important to happen. Evans illustrated the continuum of waiting, from boredom to worry and anger.

Although the second and third movements of the dance elicited deep emotional response from the viewer, modern dance does not always do so. I was never told what to think -- I was presented with raw emotions and could interpret them how I wished.

Music of Moby and Jimi Hendrix accompanied the dancers who choreographed the freely interpretable songs. A mix of hip-hop and modern dance, known as "Mod-hop," followed in the form of "Surge," choreographed by Andy Noble.

The dancers' smiles reflected the fun they were having. Their infectious joy spread to the audience, obvious in the laughs and uproarious applause after the dance. This piece was a needed release from the tense emotionality of the previous two selections, and the audience responded accordingly.

After intermission, the ensemble performed "A Final Walking: Impressions of Impermanence and the Human Spirit," choreographed by ensemble director Ford Evans. The section was the strongest in the show; its sadness touched my spirit at the deepest levels.

Soloist Anna Rovoir-Pruszinski '03 started the piece by dancing in agony, battling inner demons while throwing herself mercilessly about the stage. Dancers then began walking diagonally downstage in rows of two, wearing expressions of complete apathy. Meanwhile,Rovoir-Pruszinski continued her dance of pain. The piece continued, and to me it depicted the harsh reality of the real world, where people are sometimes uncaring and cold to one's anguish. The section ended with the dancers collapsing in the fetal position, attempting to protect themselves from this bleak outlook.

The piece's next sections evoked the same emotions. However, they were performed in such a way that I never became desensitized to the grief. Most notable was a solo dance choreographed by Valerie Gerry '03; it was profoundly stirring, and she depicted genuine emotions.

I saw the only problem of "A Final Walking," to be the choice of Laurie Anderson's "In Our Sleep" as music for the third section. The other sections were set to soft string music by Philip Glass and Henryk Gorecki, and the music nicely complemented the dancers. However, "In Our Sleep" was a risk for Evans to take, and in the end, it detracted from the sincerity of the other sections. "In Our Sleep" did not fit in with the other pieces.

Overall, though, the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble's performance this past Sunday was a testament to their dedication and talent. The Dartmouth community should look forward to many years of greatness in dance performance from this group.