Orchesis is the biggest club on campus, consisting of over 180 members. That means when they put on a show like Beyond the Studio Mirror, held last Thursday through Saturday in the Alice Austin Theater, it's a huge affair. The sheer number of dancers means the audience probably won't see anyone in more than one number, other than seniors. This year the show was very energetic, but it could have used a bit more variety.
The opening dance, "Dreamgirls," was a strong start to the show. The dancers were raised up to meet the stage from a pit, and then they started the lively number. It was reminiscent of the Rockettes, with high kicks in a chorus line. However, later on in the show there was at least one other number that also featured a similar kickline. That wasn't to say that the dances weren't unique but that the repeated elements stood out.
Another interesting dance was choreographed to a medly of Justin Timberlake songs with extremely fast transitions and a different type of dance for each song. It was impressive to watch, because even though transitions came up suddenly, the dancers never missed a beat. It also featured the return of a routine performed in the last show by the club officers called "Old Women." The routine consisted of old women first scolding the young women who were dancing to "Sexy Back," then breaking into outrageous dances themselves. The audience loved it, laughing the entire time.
"Hip Hop is Dead" was one of several rap/hip-hop-inspired numbers with modern dancing. This one was notable because it was almost a dance-off, with each performer getting a moment to do something different. The dance held a bit of a surprise for the audience when Chris Reigstad, the only male in the number, suddenly began break dancing at the end, something not seen anywhere else in the show. However, it seemed a lot of the dances tended to drift towards the hip-hop end of the dance scale. There have been tap numbers and such in the past, and it was odd not to see any of these in the show.
The three dances that stood out the most were "You Can't Stop the Beat," "Fidelity" and the senior number "Unwritten." "You Can't Stop the Beat," from the musical Hairspray, was a particularly fun number. The costumes were brightly colored and the dancers were moving around as much as physically possible, an homage to the Broadway show the song is from. It looked exhausting but also outrageously amusing. By the time it was over, all the dancers had to be out of breath.
"Fidelity," a song by Regina Spektor, was intriguing because the costumes and dance gave it the feel of watching several mechanical dolls come to life. Throughout the song the dance became more flowing, until one point where the lyrics said "I hear all these voices...All this music" and all the dancers were doing something different. The dancers in "Fidelity" followed the theme of the music with their dancing very beautifully.
The senior number, "Unwritten," was the strongest piece in the whole show, with wonderful dancing and life. When the lyrics "reaching for something in the distance" came up, the group of seniors would gather together, then reach out their arms in all directions, like a blossoming flower. It was a very beautiful gesture, going along with the song's theme of "releasing inhibitions" and starting your own story, something which the seniors of Orchesis will be looking forward to graduation time.
Overall, Beyond the Studio Mirror was a good show, but the numbers felt somewhat homogenous. While there were things that surprised and delighted the audience in different numbers, it felt as if these were well-hidden gems. For everything that stood out, there were a great deal of things that seemed repetitive. Still, Orchesis showcased 180 members with varying dancing proficiency, which is an extraordinary feat in and of itself.