Some of your classmates are insanely talented at channeling their inner Michael Jacksons. The multidimensionally modern Madysen Luebke checked out this fall’s Orchesis production.
Man in the Mirrorchesis was not this Bwogger’s first time seeing this dance group’s show. Their performances have always been entertaining for dancers and non-dancers alike. However, this semester did not stick out as much as past semesters have, and it was not the fault of the dancers or the choreographers. An Orchesis performance isn’t CoLab; it’s not experimental, but the dances are supposed to be fun, thoughtful, and entertaining. That being said, there needs to be something about an Orchesis show that makes people want to come back every semester. There should be new ideas, innovative choreography, and there should be pressure on the choreographers to get out of the rut from which Orchesis is struggling to be free.
It is clear that whoever curates the show is attempting to showcase innovative ideas this semester. There were definitely some pieces that worked really well. Victoria Robson’s South African dance piece was the epitome of fresh choreography. Not only was the style unlike anything else, obviously, but also Robson placed the dancers on stage in a very organic manner to the style of dance. There were moments when the dancers were in three lines, and there were moments when they formed a dance circle around a duet. Nothing about this piece felt like it was done before, and the entire concept of it felt very organic.
Another success for the evening was Catherine Haber’s piece. Haber seems to have a natural ability to create a cohesive vision to the dance. Her costumes, spacing, and lighting all highlighted the story and the ability of her dancers very well. She also clearly knew her music very well, as her choreography did not just rely on surface melody; the dance was as complex and layered as the music.
These two choreographers may have been the strongest in the whole evening, but there were certainly other pieces that brought new concepts to the table. Sam Mickel’s tap number felt like a call-and-response meets dance battle between the live piano trio and sizable group of tappers. Laura Quintela’s cabaret-esque piece told a story through simple slinky movements. Dan Pahl’s Broadway showstopper made everyone smile involuntarily with the charisma of the dance. These pieces all contributed new ideas to the Orchesis scene, but the actual choreography fell short of pushing any limits.
Emma Chaves also brought some interesting ideas to the table, but did not follow through with her theme. She collaborated with Solomon Hoffman on an interesting piece for piano trio. Her piece was in the vein of a contemporary ballet, but there were definitely moments in the choreography where the steps fell out of line with the overall style.
Unfortunately, there were many pieces that simply fell onto the wayside because they were nothing new from Orchesis. This is not to say that they bad pieces whatsoever. The ideas have just been done before in previous years. It seems like Orchesis has its own genre of movement.
The final piece of the show fell prey to this problem. The dancers were amazing, and there were really wonderful choreographic moments, but the overall vision left me very confused. The costumes were reminiscent of previous shows and the concept of passing a flower has been done at least once in the past year. The passing of the flower combined with strong and powerful movement did not make sense, as, in the past, the flower motif has been indicative of a love story gone awry. When the number started, all of the elements carried their own choreographic connotations instead of allowing for a new story to be told.
It is undeniable that Man in the Mirrorchesis has an incredibly talented cast of dancers and choreographers. Any Orchesis show is worth going to, if nothing else to find out that the quiet girl in Lit Hum can bust it out like none other in the hip hop piece. However, the average student has the opportunity to see eight different Orchesis productions. That being said, Orchesis should strive to push to create a show that will keep the audience on their toes, even if it’s someone’s eighth time around.
Poster via the event page on Facebook