'Rising Up' In Robsham
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Robsham Theater Arts Center, the Boston College Theater Department presented the dance showcase Rising Up, the first ever dance performance produced by the BC Theater Department. It featured routines not only by 65 student dancers, but also by the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble and BC’s Dance Ensemble. Uniquely, the dances in Rising Up were all choreographed by professional faculty and performed by students. The dancers explored a range of different styles, including jazz, ballet, and even modern dance.
The evening began with a fun and upbeat Fosse-inspired jazz routine to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Choreographed by Kirsten McKinney, the song introduced the dancers in little black dresses shuffling, kicking, snapping, and twinkling their fingers. McKinney also directed the first performance after intermission, another jazz number called “It’s Showtime.” To “Express” and “Show Me How To Burlesque,” the girls came out in black leotards in front of the red velvet curtain, waving their hands and tapping their feet. When the curtain was pulled, more dancers, on chairs, were revealed behind. Their performance proved that there truly is nothing like a good old-fashioned production number.
Rising Up also included incredible ballet pieces, such as “Convergence,” choreographed by Margot Parsons. Complementing Mendelssohn’s “Sinfonia I in C Major” beautifully, the routine demonstrated the grace and elegance of both the male and female dancers. As they leapt and twirled about the stage, the dancers formed patterns and images that were simple and lovely. In the second half of the show there was another ballet piece, “Here and There,” which Parsons also choreographed. Two female dancers in white masks and plain, dark leotards pranced and floated back and forth on their delicate toes. Mirroring the style of the Baroque period, the dance was somber and almost phantom-like, as the pair caressed the stage floor and moved gently to the sound of a single, intense violin, making each small move seem both vital and extraordinary.
Though every genre certainly added something important and distinct to the showcase as a whole, the modern dances by Sun Ho Kim were really quite intriguing and provocative. “Plus One” was the closing piece of the first act. It was “based on the idea of ‘adding one more element,’” and it explored “the kinetic response of the human body to time and energy, as well as the dynamic relationships formed amongst these elements through an ever-changing number of dancers and patterns of movement.” Immediately arresting the audience’s attention, it began with no music and a single dancer moving erratically as the rest stood still, backs turned. In light blue and green baggy clothes, they eventually began to form and fall out of specific arrangements as futuristic rave music started to play. The style was unique, featuring recognizable aspects of both ballet and hip-hop and developing sharp yet fluid moves that utilized space in an all-encompassing way. The highlight of the number was certainly the part that only exhibited the six male dancers literally dancing off of each other, performing amazing, defiant, and bold feats with poise.
Kim’s other modern piece was just as idiosyncratic as her first, but it was more symbolic. About love, separation, fear, and war, “Into the Storm” presented the audience with a “complex flood of emotions.” The moves were unadorned and earthen, solemnly aligned to the sound of thunder, rain, and wind. Operatic music later played into the dismal weather sounds, as the three dancers bounded, chased, and clung to each other, forming themselves into knots on the stage floor.
“No eres tu mi Cantar” blended many of the already presented styles, such as ballet and modern, together with flamenco to create an inimitable contemporary routine. Esperanza Garcia Aguilar choreographed moves to “La Saeta” by J.M. Serrat, finding “inspiration in the Holy Week Services in Seville Spain.” Focusing on a large, wooden cross, a shirtless man and several ballerinas with long, black veils tiptoed around it on point. Their performance was dark and serious, but, nevertheless, brilliant.
Rev. Robert Ver Eecke, S.J.’s liturgical dance “Knot/Not I” was similarly religious. It portrayed dancers representing the dynamics amongst Judas, Jesus, and Jesus’ followers before his Passion and death. Vibrant, colorful disciples circled around Jesus in a white and flowing robe and the bare-chested Judas in red pants. The struggle and tension between the two was tangible, adding depth to the overall performance.
Appropriately, Rising Up ended just as it began: with an exceedingly classy and entertaining jazz number by McKinney. “Playing with rhythm and movement,” “Playtime” flaunted the dancers in bright, multi-colored block dresses tapping around to David Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” A seductive saxophone, a deep, steady base, and a tinkling drum rhythm accompanied the circle of dancing colors and their fancy feet, closing the show with a bang.