‘Where We Agree:’ Theatrics in the Senior Thesis Dance Concert

Gina Mantica '16

Assistant Editor

Last Thursday’s senior thesis dance concert, “Where We Agree,” was an eclectic collection of contemporary pieces that brilliantly captured the individuality of each choreographer. It also highlighted the impact Smith College had on the choreographers’ growth as artists during their undergraduate years.  The title of the concert was fitting; while each piece was incredibly unique, there were many underlying similarities that united them and brought the audience on an unforgettable journey.

One uniting factor between many of the pieces in “Where We Agree” was the use of theatrics to deepen the audience’s understanding and involvement in the choreographers’ intentions and ideas. Theatrics were employed in a variety of ways to grab the audience’s attention, including the use of vocalizations, props and cinematic elements.

For instance, “Giselle’s Story,” choreographed by Hannah Klales ’15, utilized humorous narration in a way that was reminiscent of improvisational comedy sketches. “Giselle’s Story” was an interactive piece loosely based on the ballet “Giselle,” in which the audience was responsible for determining the outcome of the piece.  The narrator of the piece asked audience members what they wanted to see happen, and the audience happily played along and became enmeshed in Klales’ story. The concept of this piece, combined with its flawless use of comedy, was exceptional.

Another piece that used theatrics in a spectacular way was  “Blues, You See,” choreographed by Aleah Lazar ’15. Lazar’s piece began extremely darkly, in a literal sense, with only two lighting elements on opposite sides of the stage, illuminating the stage and casting shadows against the backdrop of the dancers moving through the space. This dark undertone was carried throughout the piece in a more figurative sense; even when the lights came up to allow the audience to see the faces of the dancers, the tone of the piece was intriguingly ominous.

The heartfelt piece “In Loving Memory,” choreographed and performed by Danielle Tekut ’15, employed spoken word to memorialize the life of her father who passed away in April 2014. Tekut’s use of language along with her movements in the first half of her piece transitioned eloquently to memories she recounted as her father’s favorite song, “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake, played. This audible transition was accompanied by the subsequent speeding up of her dancing, which allowed the audience to connect and empathize with Tekut’s situation and participate in her personal transcendence from grief to celebration.

“The Dinner Party,” choreographed by Jessie Owens ’15, also employed theatrics in a way that skillfully captivated the audience. The piece began with one of the dancers singing in another language. When the dancer finished her song, she placed herself at an ornately decorated table on the stage with the rest of the performers. Owens’ tactile use of the dinner table throughout the piece made the table appear almost as another dancer, impeccably incorporated into the orderly chaos of the scene created through the movement.

Celebrations Dance Company’s co-artistic directors, Jessica Goudreault ’15 and Twyla Vesper Marr ’15, concluded the concert in two mesmerizing displays of natural elements and emotion. Goudreault’s “Spring Tide” used spoken word theatrics set against the crashing sound of ocean waves to convey the floods of emotions and highlighted the ebb and flow of those emotions throughout the course of a person’s life. The conclusion of the piece, in which all of the dancers approached the front of the stage and shouted their individual stories directly at the audience, strengthened this theme and highlighted the importance of expressing emotions.

Marr’s “A Glimpse Between” also used videos from her childhood and an abundance of arboreal props, including logs and flower petals, to convey a fondness of her time growing up as an innocent and playful child in Vermont. The interactions between the dancers, in addition to their interactions with the video and the props on the stage, emphasized the childlike wonder of a young girl exploring the wilderness for the first time and brought a smile to audience members’ faces.

Overall, the unique personalities of each piece came together as one powerful performance.

Overall, the unique personalities of each piece came together as one powerful performance.