Not Your Toad’s Dance Floor

Dance the night away.
Dance the night away. // Carly Lovejoy

As the first few notes of Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” resonated throughout the theater, six members of the Yaledancers emerged from the shadows. They danced in darkness, until the classic first line — “Come out Virginia, don’t let me wait” — rang out, and bright lights flooded the stage. As the dancers tossed around a red sunflower and playfully assembled into a kick line towards the end of the piece, this opening dance — choreographed by Laura Bass ’15 — carried a lighthearted, jovial feel that is likely to be appreciated as final exams loom before us. It is the ideal beginning to the Yaledancers’ spring show, which will be performed in the Education Center of the Arts Theater this weekend.

While one might initially question the choice of such a distant location, the superiority of the ECA Theater to other theaters like Off Broadway, which are slightly closer to campus, is immediately apparent. The ECA Theater offers an abnormally large stage and fantastic lighting, which makes it perfect for intense and dramatically-lit dances like “Enamored,” which was choreographed and performed by Natalia Khosla ’14 and Tim Creavin ’15. Although this duet was set to “Latch” by Disclosure, a party favorite, Khosla and Creavin’s sharp movements were drastically different from the motions this song typically inspires at Toad’s.

Rebecca Brudner’s ’16 “Mother Nature” piece also took advantage of the theater’s lighting, as three dancers performed an interpretive dance that departed significantly from the jazz and contemporary pieces commonly seen in dance shows. Strobe lights flashed violently throughout the theater each time the song reached its chorus, and the silhouettes of the dancers were illuminated on the walls behind them as they moved in time to the echoing voices of the Dirty Projectors, resulting in a haunting and almost disconcerting effect.

Many other eclectic pieces were featured, including an interlude by Karlanna Lewis SOM/LAW ’15 in which she performed an original rap and danced to it, and a piece choreographed by Molly Gibbons ’14, in which the dancers showed off some of their finest technique in front of a large backdrop displaying an inspirational video about passion and creativity, set to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Ten Thousand Hours.” At the end of this particular dance, one lone dancer remained on stage as a Ray Bradbury quote was typed across the screen: “Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.”

One of the highlights of the show was Gracie White’s ’16 piece, which artfully blurred the lines between dance and trapeze. White began precariously suspended in midair, then preceded to contort herself into various positions, flipping and twirling closer and closer to the ground as Amy Winehouse’s croons echoed throughout the theater. The other dancers were able to display their flexibility and precision on the ground, but when White twisted into the splits while in midair, it was an entirely new experience for the onlooker.

Following intermission, eight dancers resurrected the show by snapping and posing in time to Beyoncé’s “Partition.” Midway through the song, the dancers sped off stage and quickly returned wearing new outfits, as “Animals” by Martin Garrix began to play. This dance, set to some of today’s most recognizable hits, ran the risk of being hackneyed (especially following White’s gravity-defying act). But the synchronicity of the dancers and the intensity of their performance transformed this otherwise ordinary dance into an exciting showstopper.

And there lies the brilliance of the Yaledancers — each dance, regardless of whether it is performed on the ground or in the air, or whether it is set to a banal pop tune or a piece of classical music — is performed passionately and with the utmost precision and grace. Some pieces in the spring show may be slightly more innovative or groundbreaking than the others, but each piece is still inevitably as enjoyable as the next, because the Yaledancers are not simply dancing on the stage of the ECA Theater: They are on a mission to create art.

The show’s finale — “Catalyst,” choreographed by Bass  and Jane Fisher ’14 and performed by the entire company, concluded the show on as light of a note as it began. It is in this piece that every member of the Yaledancers collected to exhibit the skills of the company as a whole. One could not help but gawk as the dancers leaped, turned, kicked and body rolled together as the walls behind them shifted between shades of red, blue, pink and orange, along with the moods of the song. The piece included several lifts (all due to the physical strength of Christian Probst ’16 and Creavin, the two male members of the Yaledancers), ending the show with one visually stunning, last hurrah.

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