April 15th, 2011 | Uncategorized

YD spring show shows Disney how it’s done

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Photo by David Demres.

The stage is pitch black. Suddenly, a blue light appears, illuminating the silhouettes of three sculpted men. The vaguely familiar voice of the sassy Greek chorus from Disney’s “Hercules” is heard: “At this point our boy Hercules could do no wrong.” And so begins the number that best exemplifies the spirit of the Yaledancers’ annual spring show.

The group has a reputation for impeccable technique and impassioned execution, and its spring show proves that this perception is merited. With a unique repertoire ranging from ballet to hip-hop, the show truly showcases the talent present in the group. The different types of dances are spread out throughout the show to keep the audience intrigued. Solo performances are bookended by group numbers, and the contrast only furthers the passionate portrayals.

The oldest dance group on campus hosts its spring show in the Educational Center for the Arts theater two blocks away from Timothy Dwight. It’s easy to gripe about the distance — before setting foot in the venue. A giant stage and high ceilings provide the dancers with a vast empty space to highlight their skill. The lighting and minimal props enhance the effect, making their performance truly memorable. The theater provides a professional atmosphere that is sometimes lacking at otherwise perfect Yale performances.

While most of the dances were phenomenal, there were some that stood out.

My favorite performance was the aforementioned all-male dance “OMZ!” to the childhood favorite “Zero to Hero.” The dancing was animated, enthused and spectacular — even beyond the memorable beginning. Kelvin Vu ’11, Scott Simpson ’13 and Nate Freeman LAW ’11 jumped over one another, spun and danced to the classic Disney tune in togas and gladiator sandals. It’s hard not to smile during this performance.

This was juxtaposed with the heartfelt performance by Natalia Khosla ’14 to Adele’s hit “Rolling in the Deep.” Her performance was powerful and beautiful, a perfect lead-in to the whimsical men’s number. While the style of dance was rooted in classical technique, the execution included sharp movements and emotive facial expressions characteristic of more modern dance styles.

The hip-hop number, choreographed by Khosla and featuring both seasoned veterans such as YD President Gabrielle Karol ’11 and new faces like Catherine Camp ’14, was particularly impressive, given that it was a departure from the usual style of dance that YD showcases. The moves were executed with precision that justifies why the group is so selective.

While the smaller performances were jaw-dropping, some of the larger company dances were lackluster. There was so much going on in some of the group numbers that it was impossible to focus on the dancers. The audience had to work so hard to follow the story that it often became hard to appreciate the proficiency of the dancers.

But the most impressive number was the absolutely stunning final company piece. Set to Kanye West’s “Runaway,” the dancers faced the challenge posed by the 30-minute music video for the song that features a lengthy ballet performance — and Yaledancers delivered. The ballet was beautiful, the company was in sync and the choreography was stunning.

Given the performances they’ve put on in the past, it’s no wonder that the shows are sold out. Nonetheless, it’s worth the embarrassing sneak-in attempt for those who can’t get off the waitlist.