Creativity abounds in the upcoming fall dance concert, In the Works, presented at Pendleton Dance Center this weekend. The concert is a collaborative effort between the Scripps and Pomona dance departments, but the works in the show are choreographed and performed by students who hail from all of the 5Cs. In the spring, both departments will put on individual showcases featuring several works previewed in this show.
Professor Gail Abrams of the Scripps Dance Department said that the joint performance was conceived to “foster an atmosphere of collegiality rather than competition” between the two dance departments. The show also offers a chance for student choreographers to take the lead—although the dance faculty takes care of the organizational aspects of the concert, the choreographers are given creative control of the costumes, music, and lighting.
On Wednesday the choreographers and dancers (all student volunteers) hosted a preview of In the Works. The tone of the dances ranged from the robotically elegant piece “Grace,” choreographed by Maya Guice SC ’12, to the electric, gritty “No. 9” by choreographer Chinelo Ikejimba CM ’12, to the crisp, energetic hip-hop number by Justine Gordon, PZ ’12.
One trend that quickly emerged was dance pieces with a greater social message. “Black,” choreographed by Chanté Cruse SC ’12, used acrobatic stunts that required the dancers to share weight and trust each other to tell a story about the ways the individual can find support within the black community . In the same vein, the soulful “human.” by choreographer Emily Kleeman PZ ’14 dealt with same-sex relationships, ranging from the friendly to the romantic.
Liv Townsend SC ‘14 created a piece that more generally examined the ways that humans physically and emotionally crash into one another, aptly named “Collisions.” The dancers used their own and each other’s bodies as percussion instruments, moving hurriedly along invisible gridlines across the stage.
Another equally inventive dance called “Perpetual surrender to the innate connections of our invisible divinity” made use of bars as acrobatic crops. Choreographer Victoria Wolfe PZ’12 used the ten dancers to create intricate movement patterns that evoke water, imagery reinforced by the sound of rain interwoven into the piece’s music.
Two pieces that stand out in particular are “Letting Go,” choreographed by Tulsi Mehta PO ’12 and “OJADA” by Daniel Ching PO ’14. Mehta’s piece is part of a larger project to be performed in April. Mehta and Theater major Crysanthe Oltmann PO ’12 are collaborating to create a performance piece for their senior thesis.
“Letting Go” focuses on the similarities between the Greek Bacchanalian cults, who went into substance-induced frenzies as a religious ritual, and modern college partying culture. The dance depicts the troubles of five college-aged women, stumbling through a night of drunk revelry. The dance is humorous one moment and horrifying at the next, examining through movement the act of ritually ‘letting go’ of control over our actions.
“OJADA” is vastly different—dangerous, disturbing, cerebral, but wildly exciting. Ching has created a novel form of movement that has little comprehensible narrative but is fascinating to watch. His choice of music, which moves from ethereal to primal and frightening, complements the moods of the piece beautifully and adds to the feeling of a carefully crafted, holistic piece.
Ultimately, all of the choreographers and dancers have done exemplary work, and it is well worth going to see. This weekend, make your way to south Pomona for a truly enjoyable and engaging night of dance. In the Works is showing tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Admission is $5.