The Department of Theatre and Dance presented Geneseo Dance Ensemble’s spring show “Connected Kinetics” in Alice Austin Theatre from April 12 – 15. With this show, the ensemble celebrated its 44th year in existence and 88th dance concert performance.
“Connected Kinetics” was unique in that it not only showcased a variety of dance styles from multiple cultures and time periods, but also featured choreography by faculty, students, alumni and guest artists.
The show opened with striking energy in “Moving Forward,” a lively number with a Middle Eastern feel, choreographed by senior Jamie Hartle. The number – performed in the adjudicated concert at the Northeast Regional American College Dance Association Conference at Penn State University in early March – was fast-paced and exciting, incorporating interesting lifts and strong flow.
The peppy “Moving Forward” set an animated tone for the show, which despite its consistent energy also included numbers with more emotional sensibilities.
Senior Joshua Lang’s performance of his composition project “It’s Alive” added an element of surprise. The number began with chaotic ballet to the tune of Igor Stravinsky’s “Duo Concertante: IV.” Next, deafening sound effects transitioned the classical dance into a monologue that focused on how monsters like Frankenstein’s creature are more relatable than most people expect.
“Maria Va,” the modern number that closed the first act, incorporated passionate movements and tight dancer formations to create a rare and precious emotional connection with the audience. Adjunct dance faculty member and ’06 alumna Heather Acomb choreographed the number to the ethereal music of Icelandic band Sigur Rós.
“Maria Va” seemed to explore themes of love and friendship along with people’s dependence upon their relationships with others. The lighting, designed by technical director Johnnie Ferrell, was a powerful symbol in the number, setting off a soft yet intense tone.
Student-choreographed solos utilizing a variety of props were mixed in with the group dances. In the first act, senior Katie Keller danced with a large pink flower in her composition “Wilted.” The second act included “Journey,” a composition by senior Rachael Beckman about packing a bag to leave a treasured place. In “The Other Side,” senior Lauren Whitehead used a portable ballet barre to indicate another world.
A highlight of the second act was a four-part number called “Tobi Roppo,” choreographed by artist-in-residence Sabatino Verlezza. “Tobi Roppo” is a kabuki term that pertains to physical readiness to move in any direction. Dance professor and Artistic Director Jonette Lancos performed the first three parts and a group of student dancers performed the final part, “Rebirth.”
“Connected Kinetics” ended with a version of a traditional Irish dance, “Téaltaithe Loch,” reworked by artist-in-residence Edward J. Murphy Jr.
While it would be wonderful to see the group tackle tap dancing next fall, the interesting addition of Irish dance to the program showed off the versatility of the Geneseo Dance Ensemble, who successfully integrated ballet, modern and contemporary dance, jazz, and cultural dance into one cohesive show.