A Wonderful Neverland to Occupy your Weekend

At times, it is sad. At others, it is uplifting. Often, it evokes a sense of longing and, consistently, it is breathtaking.

Yalies can discover the beauties of dance at this year’s A Different Drum’s fall show, which takes place this weekend.

“Occupy Neverland,” the theme of this performance, is reflective of social woes today but also serves as a nostalgic throwback to our favorite childhood stories ­— from “Where’s Waldo?” to “Alice in Wonderland.” The cast successfully draws you in with their stories, emotions and grace, as they own the humble stage on which they perform.

Choreographed by its dancers, “Occupy Neverland” starts out slowly, as the dancers mimic the stars that shine in the sky in “The Messengers.” With “To Break,” the dance gathers momentum. From here on begins the emotional ride that is “Occupy Neverland.” The dancers tantalize with flowing green dresses, pretty faces and Irish dance steps in “Fuss Out.” The pace once again subsides in “(Ex)change!” with melancholy French music and slow, fluid moves, before picking up on a jovial note during the interlude. Here, audience members sympathize with the little girl depicted on stage, asking mommy where babies come from. The following dances showcase contemporary dance, ballet, tap dance and a variety of other mixes that are unique to the dancers of A Different Drum. “Might Like You Better” is extremely entertaining; with their suggestive moves and coy smiles, the dancers (literally) sparkle on the stage as they slither and wink towards the audience. But I’m not quite sure whether the song (“Might like you better if we slept together”) is reminiscent of my childhood!

One of the most evocative pieces is “Shared Space” where the dancers perform without any musical accompaniment. You see the struggles, the hopes and the fears of the characters in question. Had the theater not already been silent, the gripping emotion expressed on stage surely would have stunned the audience into silence.

The performance ends just as it starts — powerfully, dazzlingly, in a show of lights, music and grace — as if to suggest that the musical notes plucked the strings of their bodies. What is most striking about A Different Drum is how the dancers seem not only to act but to feel vividly the emotions that their movements portray; in one case, tears spilled from a dancer’s eyes as she wilted away from the crowd.

The dance company’s performance gives ample opportunity to the freshman class to showcase their talents, while maintaining a chance for senior members of the group to choreograph and share space. In doing so, it provides “Occupy Neverland” with the unique flavor of freshness — the new talent complements the old and creates a performance that transcends expectations. Dancers have the opportunity to perform both within the group and individually; the break-away moments in which members step out from the group allow both upperclassmen and their younger counterparts to take the spotlight.

“Occupy Neverland” is definitely worth the $5 investment ($8 for non-students). Certainly, a visit to A Different Drum’s fall show imbues the routine that has so drearily accumulated by this time in the semester with an invigorating sense of change. They sway, they lift, they crouch, they pirouette but they never, ever stop.

A Different Drum’s Fall Show takes place at the Off Broadway Theater Friday Nov. 11 and Saturday Nov. 12 at 7:00 pm.

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