On Saturday, April 9, Deputy News Editor Paulina Rodriguez attendedEuphOrchesis,” the first in-person performance from Orchesis since 2019, at Columbia’s Roone Arledge Auditorium.

Orchesis, Columbia’s largest student-run dance group, made its return to in-person performances on Saturday with “EuphOrchesis,” a performance inspired by HBO’s Euphoria. The group’s first in-person performance since December 2019, “EuphOrchesis” paid due tribute to its inspiration, but more importantly, it was a delightful celebration of finally dancing for an audience again.

The show’s actual relationship to Euphoria may have been somewhat tenuous—most of the night’s 18 dance pieces were relatively unrelated to the series—but it didn’t matter. The joy in Orchesis’s return to the stage was so overflowing that even pieces that called into question the Euphoria theme were undoubtedly euphoric. A highlight of the night, set to arguably one of the best opening numbers in the history of musical theatre, was “30/90,” choreographed by Eliza Rudalevige (CC ‘23), which both captured the anxiety of becoming an adult while the world is falling apart and remained boundlessly fun to watch. 

Granted, four of the night’s pieces were set to songs from the official Euphoria soundtrack. “Formula” (choreographed by Xixi Wang, CC ‘22, and Elin Hu, BC ‘22), “Still Don’t Know” (choreographed by Effy Jo, BC’24), and especially “All for Us” (choreographed by Lauren Wilkins, CC ‘22), paid tribute to the show while retaining the four choreographers’ unique visions. Subtly Euphoria-esque in their melodramatic aesthetics while distinctly original in their tumultuous movement, the pieces were captivating, if noticeably brief. For their finale, choreographed by the Executive Board, the entire company danced on stage to Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need A Hero,” an homage to one of Euphoria’s best scenes. Choreographers Morgan Zee (BC ‘22) and Hailey Ryan (BC ’22)’s “Something to Dance For” was a more subtle but much-appreciated nod to the star of the series.

The undoubtable standout of the night was “These Boots, choreographed by Liz Radway (CC ‘24) and set to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’.” Featuring 11 dancers under the spotlight in coordinated blue jeans and cowboy boots, the piece was as well-executed as it was delightfully absurd. Perhaps it was the unexpectedness of choosing Nancy Sinatra for a Euphoria-themed modern dance piece, or maybe the piece’s big finish, which saw the dancers gradually replaced by disembodied boots dancing through the wings, but despite the fact that “These Boots” had nothing to do with Euphoria, it somehow felt pulled straight out of one of Sam Levinson’s iconic dream sequences.

EuphOrchesis was at its best when it leaned into this influence, adopting Euphoria’s trademark colorful, dreamy lighting and surrealist action sequences to give us pieces that felt part psychedelic dream and part high school rager. In pieces like “Supercut(choreographed by Maya Puri, SEAS ‘23) and “Dawning” (choreographed by Romane Lavandier, BC ‘24, and set to “Hearing” by Sleeping At Last), the combination of graceful, emotionally charged movement and outrageously colorful lights thrust us into the somber-but-psychedelic dream world of Rue Bennet. At the same time, fast-paced group pieces like “Positions” (choreographed by Jo) and “A Pop Medley” (choreographed by Athena Pagon, SEAS ‘23, and set to Doja Cat’s “Woman”), transported us to somewhere between dream sequence and the kind of party where people make terrible, season-defining decisions. In each piece, the passion is evident; after more than two years of virtual performances, the dancers of Orchesis, some of them making their in-person debut, were beyond ready to take the stage. It was in these moments where the reality of the soundtrack really ceased to matter—the individual songs may not have been part of Euphoria, but any of the pieces, as brilliantly choreographed as they were performed, easily could have been.

One of the night’s final pieces, “Rain,” captured this ethos brilliantly. The final piece of choreography by seniors Xixi Wang (CC ‘22), and Elin Hu (BC ‘22)—known collectively as Xilin—“Rain” combines otherwordly neon aesthetics with fluid, almost surreal, and deeply passionate movement, embodying the psychedelic fantasy characteristic of both Euphoria and “EuphOrchesis.” Most importantly, after two years of dancing in isolation, it captured the pure euphoria of returning to the stage.

EuphOrchesis flyer via @columbiaorchesis on Instagram