The YaleDancers’ fall performance breaks down boundaries between styles of movement and allows different forms of dance to interact with and confront each other. Not only do most of the pieces incorporate several styles of dance, the YaleDancers have also choreographed the transitions between the dances to occur onstage in full view of the audience, thus uniting the disparate elements of the performance into a whole. The effect, whether seamless or startling, lends the show greater coherence and reminds the audience of the linkages between all forms of movement. The dances that best showcase the talents of the YaleDancers are jazz-based pieces infused with elements of modern, ballet and hip-hop.
The dancers use this jazz style in “Too Long” to highlight the depth of their talent and to convey choreographic emotion effortlessly. Setting the piece to Otis Redding and Nina Simone, Erin Pettigrew ’05 takes her dancers from moments of vulnerability to strength using jazz-based moves and beautiful extensions.
In “Waking?” the YaleDancers continue to use the styles that best show off their talents, with some of the strongest dancers in the group throwing themselves into choreography by Ali Ahn ’03 and Nicole Ries ’04. Like a ticking time bomb, the dancers explode into a clean and energetic dance after beginning onstage in a clump and moving out of it to the chiming of a clock. The piece incorporates music of different tempos, allowing the dancers to display both their long lines and speed of movement.
The slower-paced “Illumine,” by Julianna Bentes ’04, plays with images of light and flight; the dancers wear glow necklaces wrapped around their limbs and are transformed into winged creatures through their fluttering hands and flying motions. At times the dancers resemble a swarm of butterflies dependent on each other for their movement, such as when dancers wrap their partners around their bodies and lift them. Another balletic piece,”Fate,” pairs two figures in white, an oddly matched Brienne Leon ’06 and Robin Garner ’06, who dance a pas de deux accompanied by four dancers in black. The couple, as central figures, dance while the others circle them with raised arms, and at the climax of the piece, Leon is finally lifted by the five women.
Moving away from their traditional styles of dance, the company pokes fun at classical ballet in “Cinderella,” by Allison Waggener ’03. Cinderella, in a feather boa and tiara, and her prince perform a mock pas de deux surrounded by a corps in long skirts and sneakers performing self-consciously silly classical ballet steps. As Prokofiev’s classical score gives way to a guitar solo by Jimi Hendrix, the dancers morph into more active and vibrant movement.
The one tap number in the program, “Please Let Me Explain–” allows the YaleDancers to shed light on another facet of their talents. In it the five female dancers take their revenge on Jean for tossing them aside by playfully tying him up and kicking him offstage. Campy theme aside, the piece by Anne Ackerman MED ’07 demonstrates the dancers’ verve and spirit in attacking all styles of dance.
“G.W.A.R. (Girl Whoops Ass Randomly)” and “Rastafari’s Five Fingers of Death” show off the YaleDancers’ fierce side in the show’s most dynamic numbers. In the former, the dancers combine sharp movements, impressive turns, challenging floorwork and aggressive sexuality to a thumping score by Prodigy and Snake River Conspiracy. Suffice it to say that this dance — by Katy Henderson ’04, Alex Jean ’03 and Lauren Steffel ’04 — is not only hot, but also keeps the audience engaged through its dynamic choreography. In “Rastafari’s Five Fingers of Death,” Ja Shia ’03 has created a martial arts-dance hybrid to Drowning Pool’s “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” with enough frenetic energy to make the viewer want to get up and dance — or at least start a fight. The combination of the two forms of movement is especially impressive in the fight sequences pitting Shia in black against a “good guy” in white.
“Primal Hunger” brings many of the dancers back onstage for their final number in a richly textured, arresting piece by Alexis Carra ’03. The shifting groups of dancers are led by Lauren Steffel ’04, who serves as a motivating and presiding force. Carra lends a primitive air to the piece with her use of stomping and clapping, interesting groupings and patterns of dancers and Hans Zimmer’s humming, vibrating and haunting score from “Black Hawk Down.” When the dancers bring chairs onto the stage, the piece retains its primal force while taking on a more modern edge. The dancers breath and contract together as a group, and the piece concludes with the dancers crouched and staring the audience in the face — a fitting end to an impressive show that dares the audience not to take this talented collection of dancers seriously.