MetamORCHESIS, the Orchesis 2011 fall showcase, premiers tonight at 9 pm and then plays again Sunday at 2 pm in Roone. Bwog’s favorite dance enthusiast, Renée Kraiem, snuck into Orchesis’ dress rehearsal Wednesday evening.
In the first piece of MetamORCHESIS, choreographed by the show’s producer Victoria Pollack, BC ’12, a small group of graceful dancers strut to Mika’s “Grace Kelly” in matching white sundresses. As they pirouette in striking lines across the stage, their dresses float upward revealing a bright pastel lining underneath their skirts. This delightful sight surprises the audience and adds dimension to the piece, but more than that it serves as a metaphor for what’s in store in MetaORCHESIS: an aesthetic delight, sprinkled with a collection of colored surprises.
The show is as substantive as it is creative. Orchesis is notorious for its no-cut policy, and it should be applauded for the grace with which its pieces fill the stage. Performers are all visible though space on stage is sparing, and the movement is dynamic enough that the effect does not become overwhelming. The satiated stage is filled with choreography that is technical but not indulgent, so that the program flows with ease.
There are certainly standouts among the stream of contemporary offerings. The first piece is by Jaclyn Hoffman, CC’14, choreographed to Blue October’s “18th Floor Balcony.” Her considerable crop of dancers glide across the stage draped in a neutral color palette spotted with shades of purple. The movement was impressively uncomplicated, and her dancers moved consistently in sync even in moments that appeared improvised.
Toward the middle of the program the audience is given a wake-up call in an interpretation of Adele’s “Turning Tables,” choreographed by Erin Stahmer, CC ’12. The dancers walk on stage confidently, clad in black, and carrying chairs—and you know you’re in for a treat. The dancers work well with their chairs in perfect harmony with Adele’s soulful crooning, and the piece’s fast paced movement is all the better because it affords the audience even more of Erin’s choreography.
A piece choreographed by Kyley Knoerzer, BC ’13, set to a cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” is an appropriate reevaluation of the program’s contemporary strength. The piece is consistently technical, coordinated and joyful without being contrived, but it is really the surprising moments that make it a stand out. Just as Matt Weddle’s interpretation of “Hey Ya” is unique, the piece moves with the trend, remaining true to itself but delightfully experimental at the same time.
MetamORCHESIS is packed with a collection of other interludes, both quick and of a longer variety. I’ll save the real interludes as a surprise, but the full-length pieces that break the program’s contemporary mold are noteworthy as well. Each has strong character, and impressive range—from burlesque, to tap, to an ode to Dirty Dancing. The pieces are a notable departure from the highly technical majority of the program, but whimsical in a way that complements them.
The piece that brings it all together, though, is one with a style consistent with the program but impossible to ignore, if not for anything else than as an ode to its dancers in striking, sparkling unitards. Marie Janicek’s, BC ’12, interpretation of “The Butcher,” by Radiohead, is neither carefree nor contrived in its drama. The piece’s principal dancer makes her way diagonally across the stage throughout the song with movement that is controlled and strong. The dancers are theatrical to an appropriate extent, and the piece is, for lack of a better word, and in the best manner possible, creepy. It is technically radiant, but punchy and surprising in moments. Just like Marie’s piece, MetaORCHESIS moves powerfully across stage for just over an hour, broken up by wonderful interludes that stand strongly on their own two feet.
MetamORCHESIS becomes a butterfly this Friday at 9 pm and Sunday at 2 pm in Roone. It’s a transformation you won’t want to miss.