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The School of the Arts at the College of Charleston hosted their annual student dance performance, named “Chapel Moves”, and was held in the black box, Chapel Theatre. This production was entirely student created, meaning that all choreography and dancing was created and executed by students themselves. The show for four days with 2:00pm showings on Saturday and Sunday and 7:30pm showings on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. This production consisted of no themes but instead, encompassed multiple different styles, techniques, and types of choreography.
The first piece was entitled The Space Between and was choreographed by Jessica Wigley. This dance was particularly interesting because most of the choreography was on the floor. Due to this style, I was unable to see much of the dance, however, I also found it quite intriguing that the choreographer would arrange it that way. Wigley based the choreography off of the representation of the quote: “… there is therapeutic power to failure. It cleanses. It helps you put aside who you aren’t and reminds you of who you are.” I believe this is why the dancers began on the floor on top of one another, to represent failure. Then they slowly arose together as if to “therapeutically” grow.
Winter’s Love, choreographed by Anna Brown, was, in my opinion, one of the most intellectually stimulating pieces of the production. The duet were dressed in white dresses and danced to music that didn’t fit the style of the dance. The description of the piece say it represents “to embrace change, welcome new experiences, connections, and growth.” I think this distinctly clarifies what the choreographer was trying to achieve with the different style of music and the balance of the dancers.
Aphasia, choreographed by Madeline Goodman, reminded me of organized disorganization. The dance itself consisted of a sense of frustration. This fully embraced the theme of trauma and the aftermath. The first few dancers wore nude leotards that symbolized the emotion of confusion or frustration. The costume slowly changed with the addition of a red band on the arm, I believe, to symbolize the occurrence of a traumatic experience.
The stress of the traumatic event is embodied by loud exhales and dramatic movements of recovering. The dancers would continuously move their hands in the way of an upside down jellyfish right before they would partake in and exhale followed by sharp arm movements. Many times another dancer would rush to “comfort” the dancer with the sharp movements.
Amanda Scott’s choreography, Gold, was a mixture of modern ballet and hip-hop. The piece truly combined the two, very different, styles to create a unique and intriguing piece. Some might say that the hip-hop part was distracting from the modern style, however, I believe it was just the individual dancers who were catching the eye of the audience. Many of the crumping and popping motions were slightly overdone, however, I think it made the dance stand out.
The Impacts, by Mattie Rogers, resembled modern, however, also contained many pieces of traditional ballet. For example, the dancers were rising in arabesques, porta bras, and pirouettes. The tights stood out to me about the dance because they were being worn incorrectly and had multiple rips. This reminded me of modern because it extremely opposed the traditional ballet look and, historically, modern dancers did the same.
Persistence, by Kaitlyn Fulford, was one of my favorite dances of the show. The dance was inspired by A Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. The dancers wore lavenders and soft, pastel blue tones on chiffon fabric, similar to Van Gogh’s artwork.
The dance also consisted of many turns in order to twirl the costumes like the swirls in the painting. However, there was also another dancer dressed in black to resemble the tree found in the painting.
Sunk, by Emily Morris, had white colored tops on the costumes and consisted of a lot of floorwork. They used each other to assist in slides and slithers across the floor but never rose from the ground. The slides and dragging of the feet of the dancers created a kind of visual “sunken” effect and gave the dance more depth.
The last dance was composed in red and black costumes to represent a kind of aggressive irritation. The dance consisted of many hand movements, one in particular being shaking. The dancers would constantly shake their hands as if trying to shake something off of them. Even though they were shaking their hands vigorously, their body movements still had a graceful flow to it.
The production, in itself, was beautiful. All of the dances had an interesting meaning behind them and, to a dancer, means a lot. Many times dances are only skin deep and all you see is how many tricks a dancer can do within the time limit of a song. I believe dance is an art form and witnessing ideas or themes come alive through dance embodies what I believe dance was created for: storytelling.
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