Geneseo Dance Ensemble wows with culturally conscious performances

The Geneseo Dance Ensemble showcased their biannual performance from Thursday Feb. 23-Sunday Feb. 26. “49Live: Leaping Boundaries” featured student dancers and alumni in a variety of dances. This semester, GDE welcomed guest artist Molly Christie Gonzalez, who choreographed one of the dances. (Keith Walters/Campus Photographer)

The Geneseo Dance Ensemble staged its much-awaited spring performance from Thursday Feb. 23-Sunday Feb. 26 in the Alice Austin Theater.

The performance, entitled “49Live: Leaping Boundaries,” was the 98th concert since GDE’s creation 49 years ago. Directed by professor of dance studies Jonette Lancos, “Leaping Boundaries” was a showcase of the artistic talents of both Geneseo students and guest artist Molly Christie Gonzalez. 

The performance began with a peppy “Fiesta,” where six dancers took the stage to showcase a lively yet graceful routine. These dancers began the dance in a fast pace with frenetic energy. Halfway through the number, however, the music shifted and the dancing became more smooth and mellow. “Fiesta’s” lively pace was a perfect beginning to the performance and continued to shine through its subsequent numbers.

“Fiesta” was followed up with the more introspective “Who Am I?” Four dancers, including alumna Katie Keller ‘13, commanded the stage to perform a mechanical and somewhat somber dance, which served as an examination of habits. A recording of “The Habit Poem” played at the beginning and the end of the performance, defining habit as people’s “greatest helper or heaviest burden,” which works “with the precision of a machine.” 

The themes of “Who Am I?” were reprised later in the show by the performance of “R1E2V3O4L4V3E2S1.” While eight people performed the latter dance, both aimed to “investigate the intersection of analytic processes and creativity” and were choreographed by adjunct instructor of dance studies Jody DeLoria. “R1E2V3O4L4V3E2S1” used tap dancing to depict repetition and reflection. 

After taking a glimpse into habits and the human mind, “Leaping Boundaries” shifted to the natural beauty with “Aqueous.” In three segments, dancers focused on the themes of surge, fluidity and pulsation; the background sounds shifted from the waves of the Pacific Ocean to the peaceful strumming of a mandolin and then to the deliberate beat of a drum. 

As the music changed, so did the choreography. Dancers began by mimicking the to and fro of an ocean tide before enacting the peaceful flow of a stream; finally, they danced to the rigid patterns of a drumbeat.

Throughout the program, two dancers staged a recurring themed performance called “Awakenings.” The segment was performed by communication and psychology double major senior Sophia Garber and geology and musical theater double major senior Michael Reed. 

Elegiac and nimble, Reed and Garber spun around the stage to gospel songs by Ruby Philogene. Lyrics like “I feel like a motherless child” complimented the gray outfits and the light-footed movements of these two student dancers.  

The last two numbers of the concert took a lighter tone than most of the previous dances. The “Grande Tarantelle” was inspired by a traditional dance performed in Italy to stomp on grapes during wine season. GDE’s interpretation of the “Grande Tarentalle” involved multicolored dresses and each of the dancers playing tambourines as they moved. 

Following the “Tarantelle,” a banner onstage introduced guest artist Gonzalez, who choreographed the final number “Candela.” “Candela” took its inspiration from social dancing in Cuba; with lively music playing, dancers clad in red or white dresses began dancing with each other. 

As the dance went on, more people came from the wings to join. “Candela,” true to its origin, was reminiscent of any party atmosphere, as bright outfits and animated dancing made a strong close to the event. 

“Leaping Boundaries” was especially captivating with its inclusion of these cultural influences and Gonzalez’s expertise. As the college attempts to keep its art community alive, GDE is instrumental in showcasing the strength of dance and other creative media.