OBT to host two dance groups this weekend

Dancers in A Different Drum dance company rehearse for “A Different Circus,” which will open Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Off-Broadway Theater.
Dancers in A Different Drum dance company rehearse for “A Different Circus,” which will open Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Off-Broadway Theater. Photo by Maria Zepeda.

Had enough of Claire’s cake and prefrosh? Worry not, there’s dance to be watched.

This week, Yale’s campus will host the spring-semester performances of two of Yale’s dance companies. Hip-hop group Rhythmic Blue’s spring show, “A Black Tie Affair,” will open tonight at 6 p.m. A Different Drum dance company, which has a diverse repertoire including ballet, jazz and modern dance, will open its “A Different Circus” tomorrow at 8 p.m. Both performances will be in the Off-Broadway Theater, and the two groups will alternate performance days.

Rhythmic Blue dancer Madison Alworth ’15 said securing a performance space is often difficult for dance groups.

“Dance teams are often shunted in the process of picking theater shows,” Alworth said.

Alworth noted that the undergraduate Groove Dance Company had significant difficulty in finding space for one of its shows this year, and RB’s fall semester show did not have enough seating due to the size of the Morse-Stiles Crescent Theater, the venue the group was allotted. She added that the challenge dance groups face relative to theater shows in securing suitable performance spaces might stem from the absence of a dance major and small repertoire of dance-related course offerings.

Dancers in the two groups said their performances will showcase their dedication to precision and choreography.

“[ADD’s focus on choreography] makes people think more,’” said Rachel Ouellette ’13, the group’s president. “It makes it more of a performance and engages [the audience] on a different level.”

Ouellette said all of ADD’s members are given the opportunity to choreograph a piece for any of their shows. “A Different Circus” is comprised of 15 pieces by 11 choreographers, resulting in a variety of styles based on the choreographers’ backgrounds, including modern, ballet and postmodern. While Oulette noted that the dancers’ influence on each other may have resulted in similarities between dances, she explained that the group still creates an overarching theme for each show to link the different dances together. The circus theme is most notable in four interludes that break up the set and allow the dancers to change constumes, as well as in the final dance featuring the entire troupe, Ouellette said.

“The interludes [show that] we don’t take ourselves so seriously,” said Jacob Albert ’16, a dancer in the show. “They’re cute, funny stories that have to do with the circus.”

One of the interludes tells a short tale about the trials of tightrope walkers, Albert said. The dancers involved wear point shoes and pretend they are afraid to walk the tightrope. ADD is the only extracurricular dance group to bring in professional dancers and dance teachers for biweekly classes, and Albert pointed to the group’s extensive technical training as necessary for properly conveying emotions like fear and pain through movement. With such technical knowledge, when dancers are instructed to convey pain, they can do so through emotional expression and timing rather than by merely bending a knee in a painful-looking way.

“The technical training gives people more control over what they can do,” Albert said.

Rhythmic Blue, on the other hand, is distinguished from other dance companies at Yale by its focus on transitions and formations, RB dancer Mackenzie Lee ’16 said. The choreography in “A Black Tie Affair” includes sharp, clean, hard-hitting moves and lines. Lee said the group uses various formations on stage to create strong visual effects, creating snapshots of each dance. Lee added that the group prides itself on clean transitions that create distinct pictures in the dances.

“[Transitions] add a level of excitement and entertainment,” Lee said. “We want the audience to look and be like, ‘Wow, how did they do that?’”

The black and white theme of the show speaks to RB’s professionalism and dedication to their dances, said Alworth. Members of the group come from diverse backgrounds in hip-hop dance, allowing RB to focus on many styles within one show. “A Black Tie Affair” will feature lyrical, street, “groovy” and jazz-inspired pieces, among many other variations, Lee said. RB also hopes to further engage the audience through its music choices — such as Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and West Coast tunes — and by giving viewers the opportunity to dance onstage during intermission, Alworth said. Lee added that RB expects energy from the audience.

“Look out for the swag because you’re going to be jumping out of your seat with it,” Alworth said.

RB will perform a second show tonight at 9 p.m. and on Friday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. ADD will perform again on April 20 at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

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