Dance majors and minors performed in the EMU Department of Music and Dance’s 63rd Annual Faculty and Guest Artist Dance Concert on Sunday at Quirk Sponberg Theater.
Each one of the nine dances created an original experience.
“There was a lot of unique movement,” said Vera Johnson, mother of dancer Miryam Johnson.
The opening piece, "For Diego," choreographed by Professor Joanna McNamara payed tribute to artist Diego Rivera’s Industry Murals at the Detroit Institute of Art.
As the dancers performed, images of the murals were projected behind them. The painted images of industry complimented the tension and pushing in the dancers’ movements.
"Big Spender," choreographed by Bob Fosse and re-staged by Professor Phil Simmons, was economic in movement and bursting with personality. The dancers, trying to pull in a “big spender,” were coy and flirtatious as they slinked around stage.
"Ritual Series One," choreographed by guest artist Jillian Hopper focused on everyday rituals, but through a futuristic lens. Pointing off into the distance and then turning their index fingers on themselves, it gave the impression that the dancers were trying to find themselves in established customs.
"In Quenching Thirst," choreographed by dance major Abigail Cryderman, the dancers looked like electric red birds, fluttering to techno music.
"Continuance," choreographed by guest artist Kathy King, looked at human relationships. The dancers stared at each other as if the first time they had come into contact with another human beings was right there on stage. They moved through the different emotions that accompany a relationship; the confusion of trying to get to know someone, the joy a person can bring to life and the dazed awfulness of forgetting that joy.
"Fairies," choreographed by Professor Sherry Jerome after Marius Petipa’s prologue of the ballet Sleeping Beauty, was all lace, jewels and tiaras. The dancers floated around the stage like real fairies.
"Keen Assurance," choreographed by guest artist Travis Staton-Marrero was oozing with good vibes. The music, by Jamie Cullum and Alex Clare, induced the right amount of butt-shaking and shoulder-shimmying from the dancers. The playfulness matched the theme of the dance, “the silly games played at the beginning of relationships.”
"Innermost," choreographed by co-founder of the Detroit Dance Collective, Barbara Selinger captured the human experience. The dancers often looked confused and lost, as humans often are. They comforted and ran from each other. At times they resembled robots, pulling their wires out, trying to experience life as a human, denying who they really were and eventually dying.
The show ended on an upbeat note with "mai multe stari de spirit," choreographed by returning guest artist and artistic director of Ballet Chelsea, Wendi DuBois. The dance was split into four parts: lin, exuberant, voluptos and vioi, each with its own personality. A Fabio of sorts chased the modern ballerinas around as they twirled.
Valerie Street, EMU 2011 dance department alum, said the dancers made her proud.
“I can see their dedication and passion through their movements. No one is holding anything back,” Street said.
Dancers auditioned for the choreographers the first week of the fall semester. Rehearsals followed the audition and ran two hours a week through the fall semester and the first two weeks of January.
“Our goal is to give dancers a variety of performing opportunities so we hire a diversely-trained group of choreographers,” McNamara said. “We also like to give part-time faculty an opportunity to work with dance majors and minors in a more in-depth way.”
The concert served as a means for the dancers to sharpen their performing and technical skills.
“A concert brings all of the disciplined and hard work from technique and rehearsals together on stage, then turns it up a notch,” McNamara said. “The focus is to challenge dancers both physically and artistically.”