Senior Staff Writer Charlotte Slovin attends Orchesis’ Fall semester dance show online.
In our very virtual age, Orchesis put on a virtual performance and, in their very Orchesis fashion, gave it a punny-yet-fitting name. TikTorchesis went live on YouTube at 9pm on Friday. Despite the hour delay, a very lively chat full of support and anticipation (reminiscent of past in-person performances) kept spirits high until the event began.
In the spirit of the event’s name, TikTorchesis began with a short TikTok video displaying shots of the Columbia quad to Vampire Weekend’s “Campus,” wrenching the heart of all of us far away. The video cut to the Orchesis executive board welcoming us all to the online event. Instead of charging for tickets, Orchesis collected donations for the Arts Leaders of Color Emergency Fund, a fund organized to support Black, Indigenous, and POC artists and administrators who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. They encouraged those capable of donating to Venmo @orchesis-treasurer.
With any online performance, especially dance, technological concerns are bound to appear. But Orchesis took this problem by the reins and turned it into an opportunity. Each dance was not only student-choreographed but also student-edited. Choreographers utilized the limits of the camera and the infinite possibilities of the dancer’s environments to create an experience for the audience that would otherwise be impossible. The recorded element of the dancing allowed for an extra layer of production: a dancer began in their bedroom and later appeared in a park, dancers were filmed from overhead, and editing played with overlaying footage and brightly colored filters.
Space was also explored in the dances. In “’Til the Butterflies Escape,” dancers incorporated doorframes, stairwells, and windows into the choreography, once again illustrating Orchesis’ ability to embrace the moment and use what was given to them instead of trying to replicate a traditional performance. This was also seen in their play with the various forms of communication that have kept us together throughout our time away from campus. Small shots of text conversations and FaceTime calls, as well as interludes of the dancers performing TikTok dances, kept the theme running through the show.
One of the best aspects of all Orchesis performances is the continuous shouting of support coming from the audience. This year, without everyone gathering together in the Roone Arledge Auditorium, I was afraid that watching the performance alone would rob the audience of the excitement that comes with an Orchesis show. Fortunately, all of that enthusiasm was replicated in the live chat that ran throughout the performance. The constant flood of viewers expressing their support in ALL CAPS cheering on their friends through text kept the social element of an Orchesis performance thriving.
The event ended with the traditional Orchesis finale, a dance featuring every member of the group. As Columbia’s largest student performing arts group with around 100 students, the dance displayed everyone in dozens of small rectangles. Although the technical element of the dancing was difficult to observe with everyone so minuscule on the screen, the camaraderie of the Orchesis dancers came through clearly. Even when faced with a series of hurdles, Orchesis (per usual) crafted a dance experience full of skill and joy.
TikTorchesis via Orchesis Executive Board