On Friday, April 14, Smith College’s Dance Department held its annual senior dance concert. During the event, called “Almost 100,000 hours,” five seniors, Sophia Arnall, Dana Duren, Alison Marsh, Michaela Rohde and Alyniece Siemion presented their senior theses. Each thesis incorporated the choreographers’ distinct styles while displaying the effort put into creating each work.
The evening began with Sophia Arnall’s thesis, “Breathing Body.” An overall calming performance, the piece began with shadowy lighting and the sound of breathing. Two dancers, one sitting cross-legged and the other slightly bent over, stood still as the breathing and white noise in the soundtrack persisted. Suddenly, the LED screen became blue, and the dancers began to move. At this point, the sounds of creaking doors and rippling water overrode the breathing, and each dancer danced with fluidity as if their bodies were gliding through water.
Michaela Rhode’s piece, “Almost There,” communicated a narrative of hesitation and learning. In “Almost There,” Rhode presented her interest in dance as a form of storytelling. The beginning was characterized with three chairs, arranged in a triangle towards stage left, and the sound of a car starting. Within this phase, each dancer completed a series of arm movements in unison which created a sense of symmetry. However, the symmetry broke as one of the dancers started walking; this change welcomed a transition in the soundtrack as the sound of the car engine was replaced with strings. As the strings continued to play, each dancer moved at different cadences suggesting a sense of individuality as they each occupied their own space. However, by the end of the piece, each dancer performed with ease, perhaps communicating a sense of growth. Even though the sounds of the car engine stopped, the dancers continued to move in unison.
This sense of narrative continued with “If I gave Myself a Lobotomy, I would be a Jellyfish.” Choreographed by Alyniece Siemion and performed by Kalista Creighton-Ahouse, Ella Martin-Gachot and Marty Synk, the thesis was contemplative and intriguing. Siemion’s thesis conveyed a message about risk and pushing one’s boundaries. Unlike the other four theses, Siemion’s props covered the entire stage. Small, plastic cups filled with water were arranged in the shape of three rectangles which created a space for each dancer to perform in. Within each rectangle were glass bowls of water. In addition, soft white-lavender lighting illuminated everythingon stage. The dance began with a soothing recitation of a poem.
While the complicated design of Siemon’s piece was beautiful, the design limited each dancer’s movement. In the beginning of the piece, the dancers stood and performed within their designated areas with subtle, careful movements. It was only halfway through the dance that each dancer ventured to a different area on the stage. Yet a sense of risk-taking became apparent as the dancers interacted with the props. Initially, the dancers dipped their hands and feet into the bowls of water however, the function of the bowls changed as one dancer submerged their face into a bowl of water. The dancers threw the cups across the stage, sending water everywhere and breaking the arrangement of the props. Thus Siemion’s thesis interacted with the idea of order and the consequences that can arise from a break in order.
In “There’s something we’re not telling you,” choreographer Dana Duren provided a performance that engaged and entertained the audience. It carried a sense of free-spiritedness and humour. Although the performance included multiple parts, it appeared to be a cohesive conglomeration. Beginning with the sound of a ticking clock, three college-aged dancers and an older male dancer appeared on stage. The audience laughed as one of the college-aged dancers swung her leg back and forth in time with the soundtrack. This sense of playfulness continued throughout the piece as the dancers engaged with more props. Duren’s piece ended with the dancers leaving the stage through the audience.
Allison Marsh’s “Confluent Peripheries” added a sense of seriousness and minimalism. Performed as a duet between Marsh and Neva Richardson, “Confluent Peripheries” was a well-articulated piece that displayed each dancer’s high-level of technique. The shadowy lighting added a glowing haze to each dancer’s movement. Ultimately Marsh’s thesis capitalized the strengths and athletisme of both Marsh and Richardson.
Ultimately, “Almost 100,000 Hours” was an evening that displayed the beauty of dance and the hard work of the Senior Dance majors.