Review: Interactive dance should be “legalized”

By Molly Duerig

Glowsticks, student-written music and a dance to spoken poetry were among some of the most impressively authentic aspects of the “Legalize Dance,” concert, a collection of exploratory student choreography that took place on Saturday, April 20.

For this reviewer, the highlight of the innovative concert was the finale, which was directed by senior Jillian Tavares. Entitled “Alone, with Friends,” the dance was an interactive piece set to Bright Eyes’ “Hit the Switch” in which audience members were invited to participate.

Tavares’ piece called upon any and all attendees to join dancers onstage and participate by moving around in whichever way they pleased.

This reviewer got up onstage and thoroughly enjoyed the interactive, somewhat uncertain experience of participating in the performance.

I say uncertain only because ultimately, the choice was left up to each participant in terms of how he or she danced, how quickly he or she danced – indeed, whether he or she even danced at all.

Angela Adusah, ’14, danced in the choreographed portion of the piece. At the beginning she sat in a chair on center stage, with a trash can in front of her. She pretended to be drunk and sick throughout the entire song, in correlation with the song lyrics about hangovers.

Before the piece began, audience members were handed slips of paper which read, “There is no right way or wrong way, you just have to live,” a quote from the song written by Conor Oberst.

The slips of paper were attached to glow sticks, which audience members were told to activate.

Those attendees who went onstage were instructed to bring their glow sticks and drop them into a trash can in front of Adusah.

A few participants sat off to the side during the song, watching the action happening on stage. But most participants, myself included, leaped and ran from one end of the stage to the other, moving to the rhythm and making up their movements as they went.

Adusah danced in the piece along with Kristina Brink, Austin Cosgrove, Shannon Fitzgerald, Deloras Jones, Lisa Roane and Michael Yarnell. Brink, Yarnell and Roane also choreographed pieces for the performance.

Adusah also choreographed the first piece, “Above the Stem,” danced to “Miss You” by Trentemoller and “Wet Summer” by Bondax.
She said her piece was intended to express the different elements of sisterhood.

“[Sisterhood] acts different during dark times of struggle than it does during joyous occasions,” said Adusah in an e-mail. “The image that continuously came to mind was a flower. The stem provides support for the flower but above the stem is where we see growth.”

At the end of Adusah’s piece, the three dancers, Tavares, Grace Beah, ’14, and Maya Jones, ’14, laid down in a formation. Beah was heard to laugh, “Maya would do something like that.”

Breaking the “third wall” in any type of performance makes for an interesting effect. By using a performer’s real name, the dance calls attention to its own staged nature.

“Interesting, out of all of our practices, no one person’s name […] was called out at the end […] even I was surprised as a choreographer,” Adusah said.

Adusah added that although she never asked Beah to say Jones’s name, she never asked her not to, either. The interpretative nature of the piece made it all more interesting for this reviewer.

Jones also choreographed a piece, “Hairstory,” danced to a song called “The Universe Welcomes U” that was written by a student, Kelonte Adams, ’14.

Yarnell’s piece, “Departure from Avidya,” also broke the third wall.The piece began with Yarnell’s request of the audience to keep their eyes closed in order to better relate to the dancers, who would be blindfolded for the first few minutes.

Later Yarnell explained that his request was intended to encourage audience members to open their eyes, not close them. This request was in keeping with the title of the piece: “avidya” is Sanskrit for ignorance or delusion.

“You have to be told to close your eyes before you’ll open them,” Yarnell said. “But nobody’s just going to tell you to open your eyes, and all of a sudden you’ll understand the truth of things.”

In the beginning, the dancers moved lethargically, feeling their surroundings. One by one, they removed their blindfolds, looking slowly at the audience and at each other.

“Their movement with those people then become very […] magnetized,” Yarnell said. “Like once their eyes were open, they needed each other.”

At the start of the dance, when the performers were blindfolded, the lighting was red. After they removed their blindfolds the lighting became purple.

As a whole the performance was moving, insightful and often touching. This reviewer now loves interactive dance.