The Orchesis Spring 2012 performance premieres tonight at 9 pm in Roone Arledge and will also be performed on Saturday at 9:30 pm. Tickets can be found at the TIC–$7 for CUID, $12 otherwise. Time traveler Renée Kraiem was at the dress rehearsal.
This semester’s Orchesis showcase is definitely linked thematically, but not through its titular concept; rather, the show consistently solicits its audience to pay attention to time, whether it’s to recognize a blast from the past or a sashay into the future—and, it’s good that it does, because otherwise the time would pass by all too quickly.
The show’s opener, choreographed by Gigi Clark to Sinatra’s “The Best is Yet to Come,” is delightful in its own right; slow and sultry, it shocks its audience back a few decades. They’ll have to get used to it quickly, too, because what comes next is definitely one of the best. Kyley Knoerzer’s piece, choreographed to Greg Laswell’s “This Woman’s Work,” is a standout piece. Her dancers entrance on stage recalls, perhaps, an eighties moment as they strut on in oversized button-downs and tight black shorts, but the choreography is delightfully contemporary. Knoerzer manipulates angles like a pro, and her dancers’ impressive aerial movement complements the grounded, challenging shapes that she creates on a grand scale across the stage.
Sam Mickel’s tap piece snaps the audience back into the moment as Mickel’s dancers situate themselves broadly across the stage, dressed identically in black shirts and jeans that leave no room for your attention but at their entrancing feet. Extra points for the girl with the tuxedo tap shoes! Mickel’s piece brings us, then, to the first interlude of the series, choreographed by Producer Laura Quintela. The interludes are charming, and ought not to be dismissed by the audience. These interludes, always thematic in Orchesis showcases, range from Christina Aguilera (associate decade debatable), to Pat Benatar, to a set of Kung Fu Fighters and back to Nat King Cole, in a whirlwind of brief but dense choreography.
One of the most enjoyable pieces of the show is also a blast from the past; the group’s largest number of the evening, choreographed by Katie Mukai and Gigi Clark to some “Old Time Rock and Roll,” is an old time good time. A diverse group of dancers shuffle back and forth across the stage by a tube-sock moonwalk, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Mukai and Clark ought to be commended for showcasing the gusto of their performers, and conveying it in a manner not at all contrived.
Also large, and also a good time, is this semester’s hip hop piece choreographed to Kara Krakower to “Bass Down Low.” Though certainly different in nature, Krakower’s dancers challenge the old-timing rock and rollers that precede them in their attitudes. They ought to be commended for working the ‘tude amid intricate choreography and a full stage. The juxtaposition between this piece and its successor is a significant one, but only because both pieces are so strong. Victoria Robson’s piece, choreographed to Beirut’s “The Gulag Orkestar,” is strong in form and composition. Robson’s choreography doesn’t fall into the entrancing beat of Beirut, a notable accomplishment in itself, but rather complements the traditional beat with original choreography. There is a moment in Krakower’s piece in which half of her dancers break down toward the stage and the other half lifts up into a gorgeous extension; this moment epitomizes what makes Krakower’s piece so impressive; it is challenging in form, and eerie in its aftermath.
Perhaps more light-hearted than Krakower’s but no less worth of praise is the showcase’s last selective piece, choreographed to “We are Young” by Danny Pahl—a standout in the show himself, and not just by virtue of gender. Pahl deserves credit for taking on a song with such current cultural resonance, and even more so for doing so with power and panache. The piece beings with a dynamic diagonal line across the stage, and complements Fun.’s lyrics with humor and grace. As the piece concludes with Quintela being “carried home tonight” by her fellow dancers, it’s a shame to see the night end, but also uplifting for a cast that is, in fact, young, and for whom the best is certainly to come.