Train is not usually played back-to-back with Missy Elliot and Rihanna, but at the Groove Dance Company’s shows, anything is fair game. In keeping with the group’s previous productions, the 10th anniversary event is a diverse showcase, with everything from raunchy hip-hop to graceful ballet worked into 11 different pieces and five interludes. Though the quick switches between styles sometimes feel too abrupt, the dancers execute most of the student-choreographed works with skill, regardless of whether they call for delicate pirouettes or moves with a little more pizzazz.
In the jauntier, more rhythmic numbers, such as “All You Do Is Talk” and “Hot Like Wow,” the dancers show no lack of strut. They incorporate the classic body rolls and booty shakes, with a little bit of sensual finger-licking thrown in. The sweatpant-clad dancers in the post-opening interlude also deserve some praise for their rough-and-tough snappy motions, which fit excellently with the heavy beat of the song “Lose Control.”
One of the more captivating modern dance pieces is titled “The Nicest Thing.” In this number, dancers in various colorful dresses perform in particularly strong unison, somersaulting and extending their legs skyward with nearly perfect timing. At one point, they move their arms in circles while hopping forward, as if about to fall over — an intriguing choice that stands out from the slightly repetitive twirls and gentle arm waves seen in many of the other pieces.
The most somber of the performances, “Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance,” is noteworthy for its treatment of dancers as emotional characters, rather than just nimble figures. They bring flowers onto the stage, as if in mourning, and proceeded in a slow, deliberate manner. Single dancers break away from the rest of the group and momentarily double over, as if in pain, or prostrate themselves while reaching out in anguish. However, the choreography sometimes slips into cliché; though initially mesmerizing, the prolonged dramatic walk of one dancer toward the audience at the end begins to feel like a clip from a tearjerking movie. Still, this is the only sour note struck in a gripping performance.
The most memorable parts of the show are not whole dances, but small moments that show a touch of artistic brilliance. The dancers’ bouncing on the balls of their feet in time with the accordion notes of the song “The Winner Is” in a work of the same title is a simple, yet apt and adorable gesture. The opening and closing of “Hot Like Wow,” in which the performers lay nearly intertwined in the center of the stage is compelling, since it transforms the individuals into parts of a larger organism. Similarly, in the show’s closing piece, “Groove Bday,” handfuls of dancers sitting with the entire company appear to flare up one after another, creating a riveting effect when combined with the well-timed background-light color changes.
According to Julia Rohrer ’14, Groove Dance’s artistic director, the show has no overarching concept, so it “ends up being very eclectic,” she said. While the variety promises something exciting for all audience members, the company might benefit from trying to craft more of a continuous narrative, so that the pieces relate better to one another; the fact that “The Nicest Thing” is separated from “Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance” by only a brief solo interlude is indicative of the emotional shuffling that occurs throughout the showcase. While President Lauren Mellor-Crummey ’14 noted that costume changes and the appearance of dancers in multiple pieces necessitate the given dance order, it would be interesting to see what the talented performers in Groove Dance could accomplish with more coordination between choreographers. This kind of choice might turn the next performance into a more cohesive presentation rather than a showcase.
Even so, if you’re looking for a little something-something on Friday evening, you can be sure to find it at the Off-Broadway Performance Space, where some fly dancers will be getting their groove on — no matter what type of groove that may be.