It is nearly unthinkable to walk down York Street on a Wednesday night without getting subsumed into the throbbing mass outside Toad’s Place. This week though, I accomplished the impossible: I kept my head down, kept my vision straight and kept my editor’s threats in mind while passing the inebriated boy in my FroCo group who was leaving with my TA. I rounded the corner towards Storse/Miles and entered the Off-Broadway Theater for a performance of A Different Drum’s “A Different Circus.”
The show was worth missing Woad’s for. The performance, composed of 19 dances, is completely choreographed by A Different Drum’s members — 20 undergrad and graduate school students. The pieces themselves do not abide by a particular theme, but rather are the creation of individuals in the group who wanted to showcase a particular talent or vision. The “circus” theme comes in through comic interludes. (One of these segments spoofed the idea of tight rope walking and included a male dancer wearing ballet point shoes.)
The show’s set is very aesthetically interesting. A backlit white sheet hangs across the stage. The colors projected on the screen are based on the mood of the piece. Each performance becomes a vignette that projects either a different tone or story. Three panels of black hang on either side of the large dance space, allowing dancers to come out at specific times during different numbers.
The disparate nature of each piece aims to highlight the diversity within the group, according to dancer Christine Shaw ’14. I, however, found the quick changes of genre to be a little bit jarring at times. The flow between pieces seemed a bit haphazard. The change from a classical dance number to a country piece to a burlesque performance was far from seamless. While some members of the company were obviously well trained and able to execute the dances well, the overall mixture of skill levels added a sense of amateurish fun to the show.
Derek DiMartini ’13, A Different Drum’s artistic director, and Rachel Ouellette ’13, the troupe’s president, were both extraordinary in the show. Ouellette’s solo piece was particularly interesting interpretation of Imogen Heap’s “Wait It Out.”
While there were parts of the show that seemed unnatural and overly in sync with the music, it is evident that a lot of time went into its creation. Each dancer, regardless of his or her training, committed to the performance, and their movements came across as earnest and entertaining. Each vignette was fully formed, with a different set of costumes — some more exaggerated than the others over the top.
One segment stood out as the most riveting: Olivia Mala’s GRD ’13 ribbon dance brought back my childhood Lizzie McGuire dreams in full force. One of the most elegant dance numbers in itself, the swirling ribbon was spectacular and quite breathtaking. While it was only one of the circus interludes, I wished it had gone on for longer. If for nothing else, the show is worth seeing for this piece alone.
If you want to experience the spectacular spectacle yourself, the show runs through this Saturday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.