What’s one of the perks of being an uncoordinated wallflower? You can really appreciate college students with the sass and confidence to rock a dance floor. But the Yaledancers’ Fall Show is bound to impress not only the wallflowers, but just about everyone who can attend, with numbers ranging from effortlessly elegant ballet to pelvic-thrust-heavy R&B. It’s a colorful, energetic performance where Bon Iver meets Macklemore with equal parts talent, grace and the familiar sexy moves that dominate the Toad’s dance floor.
“Where do they get all that energy?” a fellow audience member exclaims as the dancers disappear into the wings for a brief intermission mid-dress rehearsal. I swear you can hear their collective panting as they step offstage. The performers’ palpable excitement is sustained throughout the show as they explode onto the stage with leaps, twirls and the occasional backflip. The show features a jazzy duet set to the song “Shattered Cross,” which opens with the lyric, “You don’t mess around with a man in black.” Make that a team in black — from the moment the lights dim and black-leotard-clad ladies take the stage for “Tous ceux qui s’aiment” to the closing company-wide number, the performers never fail to captivate.
The two-act show features 25 pieces. They are drawn from a wide range of music and dance genres and are all choreographed by various members of the Yaledancers. Eight solo movements and several duets showcase the extensive talent and training of the YD team. From Catherine Camp’s ’14 passion-filled thrusts and flips, to Scott Simpson’s ’13 sassy shimmies and attitude-driven strut, the performers have clearly spent much time and energy honing their craft. By the time Natalia Khosla ’14 and Alana Thyng ’16 take the stage for a fun-filled hip-hop performance (flashing some moves you can surely steal for the Af-Am House’s twerkfest this Saturday), your smile will be getting pretty huge. Maybe even as big as the one Christian Probst ’16 flashes while tap dancing across the stage to Artie Shaw’s “Begin the Beguine,” hands tucked into his pockets and head tilted jauntily. Emphasis on the maybe — Christian’s is a pretty impressive grin.
The choreography is a particularly strong show of student talent. Especially memorable is Michael Rosen’s ’14 number that opens the second half of the performance, a piece set to the Fleet Foxes’ “Battery Kinzie” that weaves together the bold and the gentle. The performers go from understated swaying to melodramatic forward leaps. Elena Light ’13 creates an avant-garde artistic meditation on Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Solemn artsy work not your thing? Within minutes you’ll be re-engaged with Laura Bass’ ’15 “Be the Last to Kiss My Lips,” a blast of color and adrenaline as six girls kick their way across the stage with Beyonce-style hand motions. The transition from Bass’ pop to Light’s poetry is what makes the Yaledancers show so entertaining — it offers something for everyone, regardless of your taste in dance. It balances a wide variety of genres seamlessly.
If my fellow audience member was asking, “Where do they get all that energy?” my question was, “And can we please raid the Yaledancers’ closets?” From top hats to purple-feathered masks, the costumes complement the various music choices perfectly. Same goes for the lighting. Whether it was an eerie red glow or a single circle of white light, it added flair without going over the top. The Fall Show is located at the Educational Center for the Arts Theater at 55 Audubon St. It’s a schlep, but let’s face it — it’s the end of the semester and your Toad’s dance moves are probably getting old. Spend an evening with Yale’s premier dance group, and you just might soak up some of their sass and energy. And it’s hard not to enjoy yourself when you’re watching a group of performers who are clearly having so much fun with their art. Up until the last moment of the show when the company pours out onto the stage for final bows, cheering, “I see you YD!” their smiles hold constant, and yours will too.