As I may have mentioned before, I am currently taking Jazz Technique I as an elective. One of the requirements is to attend a dance performance and write a review on it. I was going to go into the mechanics of dance and balance, but I figure I might as well write mention the review here first.
On Friday, November 16, Naomi and I attended the evening show at the Annenberg Center on UPenn’s campus. As part Center’s Dance Celebration, this weekend an Italian dance troupe, “Spellbound” came to perform at the theater. As a first time viewer of a live, professional contemporary dance troupe performance, I really had no idea what to expect. The venue was larger than I expected; very grand looking with a dramatic curtain and a big, open stage. The troupe performed 3 dance pieces in the following order: Lost for Words Part I, Downshifting, and Lost for Words Part II.
The performance as a whole is very abstract and deep, not exactly a happy or light-hearted performance. After trying to keep an open mind, I surprisingly loved it nonetheless! Here is a clip of one of my favorite segments, though I highly recommend seeing it live to really get the full experience.
Review of Performance
The scenery and costumes were minimalistic, which really emphasized how athletically capable these dancers are. The lighting created shadows that emphasized the musculature of the dancers and the incredible amount of control they had over their bodies. The atmosphere of the stage changes between each piece, transitioning from dark confusion to complex, eclectic harmony, and finally resolution at the end.
The audience is guided through a series of emotions through the reaction to the dancers. In the beginning, the quick, intense, and raw movements of the dancers were jarring, abrupt, and distorted though blended with movements that showed such great flexibility, adding tension and drama to the stage. In contrast, the second segment had a different energy to it; although the dancers moved in different ways but all at the same time, it seemed almost harmonious. It was like watching cogs spin inside a clock: very complex, many components, but all necessary for the dance.
My most favorite part was at the very end of the performance in Lost for Word Part II, when one woman acts like an interpreter to the rest of the troupe who are acting like puppets. She guides them in how to move/communicate and although they all have their own ways of showing what they feel, they all come to the same conclusion without realizing it, ending the performance in a positive, tension-relieved atmosphere.
I know that a small section of the audience (namely people behind me talking) felt disgusted and creeped out by the performance. However, I think that the majority of the audience felt amazed and in awe of the complexity and uniqueness of the dances we were watching, as evident by the strong applause and yelling at the end of each segment.
I was so impressed with the dancers, however! With nothing but their bodies and faces, they were able to instill feelings in me without having an obvious linear story or painting a theme for me. Instead, their movements inspired me to create my own feelings and reactions, which made me feel like I was participating during the performance. Overall, a very wonderful experience that makes me want to attend more performances like this.
Naomi and I even stayed after to listen to the Q&A with the dancers and the director because we were so intrigued. It was also nice to see the performers break character and smile and laugh like normal people. Though their ages range from 17-32, they are all gorgeous, talented, and amazing at what they do. Such a steal considering it was only $10 with student ID for front row tickets!