Featuring novel choreography by guest artists and members of the dance studies faculty, Geneseo Dance Ensemble’s “46Live: New Voices, Bold Moves” celebrates the group’s 46th year, and definitely delivers on its promises. Seniors Erin Girard and Megan Killea became student assistant directors of the production at the beginning of the semester, but because practice started last fall, “a lot of the work was already done,” Girard said. Still, she said, “Being an assistant director is a nice way to cap off the last semester.”
The evening opens with “Organisation,” choreographed by adjunct instructor of dance studies Jody DeLoria. Dancers don red-orange body suits while in a robotic stance, gradually incorporating fluidity with the entrance of a piano. As the performers join hands and become entangled, a woman in a pink floaty dress unexpectedly emerges from the stage curtains; she becomes a liberated spirit amidst all the binding forces of the other dancers.
Embracing the fluidity that the previous piece limited, “Swingin’ the Blues” by adjunct instructor of dance studies Deborah Scodese-French ‘85 flows in with rhythmic dance moves and expressive shoulders. Eva Cassidy’s cover of “Wade in the Water” propels the soul of the piece. There is motion all over the stage – sometimes in unison but often not, as if to represent the varied movements of the sea. Peggy Lee’s “Fever” commences for the latter half, as dancers embody her sensuality. They drift off the stage as Lee sings, “What a lovely way to burn.”
The ballet-style Symphony in C: Allegro Vivo continues the evening while imparting allegiance to classic form. Dancers effectively present their toe-tipped talent, flexibility and poise. Professor of dance Jonette Lancos recreated the work after George Balanchine, the cited father of American ballet.
The star of the night, “Merge” by Melanie Aceto ‘95 has dancers’ backs inching onto the stage, packed in a height-ordered line. The women separate into pairs of falling and resistance; as one dancer stands and rolls lethargically, the other persistently catches her head. Halfway through, control switches, and the once listless partner becomes free to use her head and explore the other’s body. The result is a thrilling aesthetic work of curiosity, carnality and internal struggle.
Professor Lancos’ second piece in the program “In Keeping” drew influences from two other prolific choreographers of the 20th century: Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. To demonstrate these artists’ techniques, dancers are athletic in their movement, often running across the stage and stabilizing themselves in strenuous balancing poses.
As the boldest piece, “Feardom” astonishes with its originality. The work is a narrative, compiled as “three dances in one,” according to Killea, with choreography from assistant professor of dance studies Mark Broomfield ‘94 and visiting artists Adrienne Hawkins and Nathan Lee Graham. Their statement is clear; at times, though, the sequence of the dances seem illogical, and the work as a whole is too lengthy. The innovative use of mixed media, however, promotes a stereotype-ridden outlook on the world while putting various voices into perspective.
For the final number, “Cave Paintings/Hieroglyphics” concludes the performance with high-energy choreography by Merete Muenter ‘86. Projections on the backdrop of the stage literally exhibit the title, fusing ancient art with modern dance.
“46Live: New Voices, Bold Moves” asserts the relevance of social issues, resurrects ancient cultures and renders dance’s mystique palpable to the audience. The show runs Thursday Feb. 27 through Saturday March 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday March 2 at 2 p.m. in the Alice Austin Theatre. Tickets are $10 and available at the door.