By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
A dance concert is like an art gallery come to life. The art on display at the Winter Dance Concert bursts with energy at times while offering deep reflection at other moments.
The University Dance Program concert will be presented Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. in the Donnell Theatre at Bowling Green State University. Tickets are $10 and sold at the door.
“Hello Blackbird, Bye Bye” opens the show on an exuberant note. Sarah Drummer belts out the standard “Bye, Bye Blackbird:” as she and a quartet of dancers (Shannon Cleary, Kaela Kahl, Autumn White, and Lindsey Williams), all donning top hats and tails, execute the tap choreography of Tracy Wilson. It’s a nice showcase for Drummer, who has graced BGSU stages for the past four years, and will be saying goodbye to BG as she heads to New York.
More tapping from Cleary, Elizabeth Halsey, Alyssa Hulthen, and Jenna Streffon follows only to a more contemporary beat, “Grown Woman,” by Beyonce, choreographed by Colleen Murphy.
The mood shifts to the confessional in “it’s okay to be human,” as the dancers, in voice overs, express misgivings, fears, and uncertainties about life. Student choreographer Adrienne Ansel has the dancers (Alec Batton, Cleary, Leigh Denick, Courtney Gee, Kahl, Alexa Piccirillo, Courtney Slabaugh, and Sarah Thomas) moving together, apart, sometimes drifting, sometimes clashing to Rag’n’Bone Man’s soulful “Human.” There’s a sense of daring in the performers’ willingness to expose themselves. In the end, one by one, the dancers come to some resolution and come together at the front of the stage.
Guest dancer and choreographer Tammy Starr performed solo on “Posthumous” to a Chopin piano piece. Starr work relies on a delicacy of gesture. They express a sense of wonder and a sense of fragility, balanced by the certainty of her movement.
The first half of the show ends with Starr’s piece “Seabirds.’ Here the dancers (Batton, Cleary, Denick, Gee, Kahl, Piccirillo, Slabaugh, and Thomas) cavort to the string music of Vivaldi. The piece evokes a childlike delight as paper birds rain down on the dancers. In the end, those birds take flight, some finding their way into the audience.
The second act opens where the first began with a swing number. This one is a duet choreographed by Wilson with Batton and Piccirillo dancing to the nouveau swing song “Gimme that Swing” by Cissie Redgwick. The dance continues the playfulness of “Seabirds.” Fitting for Valentine’s Day it’s like a greeting card come to life, though as the dancers sweep across the stage, it implies romantic complications left out of the Hallmark sentiments.
Murphy’s take on Mika’s “Origin of Love” offers a deeper look at love expressed through tap with attitude performed by Ansel, Adla-Marie Burke, Cleary, Drummer, Kahl, Piccirillo, Sindyla, Shayna Smith, and Streffon.
The show concludes with the ambitious multipart “Party of One,” choreographed by Kristi Faulkner. The suite of performances opens with a disturbing, surreal film about a man in a party dress put upon by two unsmiling booted female dancers. Faulkner then dances a solo piece (not performed at Wednesday’s rehearsal) to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” sung by Sara Bareilles. As the song concludes more dancers take the stage, dressed in pastel outfits and carrying luggage. They move warily, restlessly. The soundtrack shifts to Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,” and ends by rocking out with “Proud Mary” as performed by Ike and Tina Turner.
Knowing that the piece, according to the program, “is dedicated to the nearly 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States, 40% of whom identify as LGBTQ” gives the context for the mélange of emotions the piece conveys. It provides a catharsis and a fitting landing spot for a performance that’s moving in many and diverse ways.