GDE’s narrative choreography expresses student creativity

The human body is an unassuming instrument with an ability to contort, support and retract itself in ways that we may overlook. With much abundance in limbs and wide varieties in movement, the Geneseo Dance Ensemble presented its annual “47Live: Visual Dynamics” performance. The show included eight total pieces choreographed by senior student artists, some of whom were also student directors. All were under the direction of professor of dance, artistic director, curator and producer Jonette Lancos with the associate direction of assistant professor of dance studies Mark Broomfield.

Each student dancer had a different story behind the motivation for each dance, varying from personal references, historical interests and much more. The dances ranged in fluidity and pace in accordance to the equally dynamic and student designed use of sound, lighting and costume also student-designed.

Some of the earlier pieces included “Letters of Heroines,” an intergalactic-like piece with an emphasis on gravity and its heavy weight. Choreographed by senior Justine Lazatin, the dance seemed to encompass a theme of motion with exaggerated choreography packed with action, slow motion and mirrored movements.

“[The dance] is centered around the idiom of taking one step forward and two steps back,” Lazatin explained. “I wanted to explore this in a physical sense … something is constantly pulling them back. In an emotional sense, it’s such a common thing to feel like you’re making progress but something keeps pulling you backwards.”

Directed by senior Lisa Cadara, the lively “La Belle Époque,” is reminiscent of the 1920s and is sure to remind audiences of the extravagant and jazz-filled era of the The Great Gatsby.

“I found the music first, and that kind of dictated the movement from there,” Cadara said. “I’m a French major so that’s where the inspiration and the love for France came from.” The first part of the piece is Paris during the day, so the music and dance movements are at a slower pace. The second half suddenly transforms into a jazzy, fast paced—almost seductive—setting. The flapper-esque dancers made the rapid dance moves look impressively challenging.

According to Cadara, the dancers each have a specific identity and character from history they are supposed to portray, including CoCo Channel, Josephine Baker and Getrude Stein. “I did a lot of research that was supposed to match with the time period, like the Charleston and Lindy Hop,” Cadara said.

In contrast, senior Lindsay Rathbun’s “Non Obstante” began with fast, sharp movements and a beating drum up against dim red lighting, developing into a steadier and lighter dance. In this piece, the dancers resembled fighters who display some sort of despair through their body language toward the end.

“My motivation was that being a warrior doesn’t always mean being strong. It’s actually about knowing that it’s okay to be vulnerable and break down every once in a while,” Rathbun said. “I actually lost a loved one to cancer, and so I decided to make a piece about that and how you’re still a warrior even if you’re not the strongest person in the room.”

“47Live: Visual Dynamics” shared a dynamism in all senses in the body, and aside from motivations, the movements are up for individual interpretation.

The show runs from Thursday Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. to Sunday Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. in the Alice Austin Theatre. Tickets are $10 and available at the Student Association Ticket Office.

Dark comedy makes light of afterlife

SEAN RUSSELL/ASSOC. PHOTO EDITOR
SEAN RUSSELL/ASSOC. PHOTO EDITOR

The work of English playwright Noel Coward arrived at the Geneseo stage on Nov. 22 and 23 with performances of “Blithe Spirit” in the Knight Spot. The dark comedy was staged as a collaborative effort between Cothurnus and VegSoup, who made the most of the venue despite its shortcomings as a proper theater.

The play tells the story of author and socialite Charles Condomine, who invites the eccentric medium Madame Arcati to a dinner party at his home in search of material for his next novel. Arcati conducts a séance, which results in the materialization of Charles’s deceased wife, Elvira. The ghost of Elvira haunts Charles to the point of madness, prompting him to invite Arcati back to his home in hope of exorcising the spirit. But Arcati succeeds only in materializing Charles’ now-deceased second wife Ruth, who was killed as a result Elvira’s efforts to disrupt Charles’s second marriage.

The unfortunate Charles finds himself haunted by both of his deceased wives and desperately calls on Madame Arcati again to exorcize the spirits. After her first several attempts are foiled, Arcati finally succeeds when she determined that the housemaid Edith is a psychic conduit through whom the spirits had materialized. The play ends with Charles sneaking away after Arcati warns him that the spirits may still be about.

The joint performance by Cothurnus and VegSoup was a comedic success. The cast often brought the audience to giggles with its ghastly antics. Senior Christina O’Shea portrayed the ghost of Elvira as an entertainingly “blithe spirit,” mixing feigned disinterest with the true desperation for which the role calls.

Junior Grant Kusick’s performance interpreted Charles Condomine as a man near the end of his rope, introducing feelings of psychotic madness. This performance found success as well, as his often frantic movements drew plenty of laughs. Played by junior Jordan Keane, Arcati was satisfyingly eccentric, convincingly acting like someone truly in touch with the supernatural.

Despite having to perform in the Knight Spot, which lacks theater lighting, seating and a proper stage, the performers made the most of the space. The limited set worked well for Kusick’s self-contained Condomine, and the limited size made for an intimate feel overall.

The performance of “Blithe Spirit” was a big success. Hopefully, the ghostly show’s limited run will breathe new life into two valued student groups.

Video Game Review: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

For many, playing Super Smash Bros. is a common college activity. That may sound like hyperbole, but I’m sure most people have that one room in the hall or off campus where people seem to congregate solely for the purpose of battling amid a mess of tangled plastic wires. The long-awaited new entry in the series, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, gives me no reason to think that this trend will end any time soon. The top selling point of this new version is that it addresses the all-too-familiar dilemma of having to hand off the controller to the fifth person when one person loses. It does this by adding the option to play with up to eight players on the same console. This is perfect for when there are five or six people playing and no one wants to sit out—although, once you get up to seven or eight players, things might get a little too crowded. If you are up to the challenge, however, you will still face the problem of getting enough controllers for everyone.

Perhaps one of the most pressing questions about the game is how it “feels” in comparison to its predecessors. I’m happy to say that it strikes an appropriate balance between the fast-paced and competitive nature of Melee with the more wild and crazy feel of Brawl. One thing to note is that this installment in the series leaves out many of the more unpredictable, less popular elements of past versions, like tripping.

This Smash also sports the biggest roster of characters in the series, boasting 50 characters from a variety of franchises. For the most part, the lineup seems pretty balanced. Still, if issues were to emerge, Nintendo’s new ability to patch the game should alleviate fears of “overpowered” fighters.

Many of the traditional game-modes such as Classic, All Star and Event return, each with an enjoyable spin. Surprisingly, online play—while somewhat limited in scope—is gratifying as well and is able to run with no Internet lag. Certain “experiments,” however, leave much to be desired. The rip-off of Mario Party, Smash Tour, certainly comes to mind. The new Smash game’s extras—which include Stage Builder, Fighter Customization as well as the ability to make one’s own “Mii Fighter”—are all perfectly serviceable, however.

For me, Smash has always been about the local multiplayer with friends, a sentiment I believe many would echo. I’m happy to say that in this regard it does not disappoint––especially now that eight people can play at once. For those who want more out of the game, the multiplayer mode is supplemented by many satisfying features, both new and old.

Spotlight On: Blaise Tangney

Freshman Blaise Tangney may be fairly new to Geneseo, but he has already had a greater impact on the local arts scene than many students may achieve in their four years on campus. Armed with a raspy folk voice and bluegrass-inspired guitar riffs, the singer-songwriter has been playing at open-mic shows all semester and has no intention of slowing down. Tangney grew up in Rockville Centre, New York, where, according to him, “[There] wasn’t really a huge music scene.” He ended up drawing much of his influence not from the surrounding community, but from his own brothers who both played in bands while he was growing up. “They’re a huge inspiration and a huge influence on my work,” Tangney said.

His 24-year-old brother Simon Tangney still has a band now: Wilbur, a Philadelphia-based folk outfit that just finished up an East Coast tour. The younger Blaise Tangney even got a chance to see the band play in Rochester before its tour was over.

Although his brothers influenced both the style and content of his music, songwriting is a solo process for Tangney—often a challenging one. “In order to capture an emotion, especially one of appreciation or love, you almost have to get lucky with the lyrics,” he said. “It’s so hard to do it correctly and not come across as cheesy or forced.”

Tangney said that he often does end up writing about emotional things, including both family and romantic relationships. “Relationships are a funny thing,” he said. “Songwriting is similar in that it’s something you have to worry about and something you have to work at every single day.”

Music isn’t the only thing he writes, however. Tangney is an English and political science double major. As far as a potential career path goes, he noted, “There’s international politics, where it’s almost imperative for people to have a grasp on the creative mindset in dealing with those sorts of problems.” But he is far from sure of what he wants to do yet—which certainly comes as no surprise for a first-semester freshman. For now, he is just enjoying his classes.

Tangney is surprisingly academic for someone so involved in music. “To be completely honest, I came here to do my work,” he said. “I didn’t come here to play a bunch of shows. But even though it means having to stay up a little later on weeknights now, I’m happier this way. And everything keeps making me want to work harder and play more.”

It’s not that Tangney has never considered playing music for a living. He is concerned with making a living—and who could blame him? Things didn’t pan out with the record companies as far as his oldest brother Jack Tangney was concerned. Simon Tangney may have a gig with a real band, but he also has jobs at two Chinese food restaurants to pay the bills.

“I’m going to write music forever. That’s not [a] question,” Blaise said. “And if it starts seeming like something I could do, sure, but … pipe dreams, you know? What I write isn’t what’s being sold today.”

Although Tangney has a distinct folk rock style and has always identified as a solo artist, befriending Geneseo musicians has made him reconsider his habit of working alone. “When you come to college, you just meet so many new people and so many new influences in sound,” he said. “And now I’m starting all over again.”

Jurassic Park meets Clue at Murder Mystery improv special

Geneseo improv troupe Currently Known As performed a show for students in Wadsworth Hall on Friday Nov. 22. Unlike the group’s usual shows, this performance had a murder mystery premise. As anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing the group perform knows, CKA usually starts off with a fairly routine set of sketches. Each sketch lasts five to 10 minutes and moves along at a very quick pace. “Murder Mystery” began with some typical free-form improv. Soon afterward, the actors dove into the main sketch.

The premise of the sketch was set up based on audience suggestions for the setting and nature of the murder. The audience decided that the deed was to be done in a rain forest during the Jurassic era. This led the actors through a hilarious storyline in which rival groups of cavemen and dinosaurs schemed to kill one another.

The plot thickened when a romance bloomed between a caveman, Oog, and a dinosaur, Theodore. What was especially comical about this sketch was that the dinosaurs were all very sophisticated and well-educated, while the humans were generic, barbaric cavemen. The scenes generally focused on two actors at a time and ended when another actor would run onto the stage.

The audience also decided the character that was to be murdered. Each member of the audience clapped for whichever character he or she wanted killed off––whoever received the loudest applause was assigned the role of victim. Then, offstage, the actors decided on who the murderer would be. The audience members were then tasked with deciding who they thought it was. They learned if they had guessed right at the end of the sketch.

This form of improv was extremely different compared to the usual sketches. It was one sketch that was over an hour long, rather than multiple short sketches. While this made for a much more developed storyline with some surprising twists, it did lose steam in parts. The actors had to balance creating a clear plot with keeping things funny and interesting. Unfortunately, at points it felt as though the humor was lost as the actors temporarily focused on resolving the conflict.

This long, involved sketch also allowed for a clearer look into how the actors keep an improv moving––they would usually just go with whatever their fellow actors suggested. They valued following along the current of the story over trying to have it make sense, which is what makes improv in general so entertaining to watch. Within this difficult branch of comedic acting, it’s expected that there will be some flops and inconsistencies, many of which the actors actually acknowledged and played off.

CKA put on an overall great show. Each actor fully committed to the ridiculousness and confusion that often takes over during improv performances. This “go-with-the-flow” attitude was welcome considering the length and involvement of the murder mystery plot.

While the usual short sketches are a bit more fast-paced and high-energy, it was interesting to see the troupe explore something out of the ordinary.