Just before the Yaledancers fall show begins, the dancers are restless — rehearsing the counting sequences with each other, popping sugar-free Jolly Ranchers and reduced fat trail mix and mentally preparing themselves to dance feverishly for the next 90 minutes.
“I always get stuck right here,” I overhear one of the dancers say to a friend as she pops her leg up to form a 70-degree angle, bemoaning that universal problem of not being able to coerce one’s body out of ridiculous poses.
Indeed, the world of the Yaledancers is unique — there’s not a non-chiseled abdomen around, everywhere girls keep dropping into Arabian splits and turning double pirouettes. Control of pain and balance is mercilessly theirs; tendons appear to serve no purpose.
For this reason alone, the Yaledancers fall show is a sheer delight. Here is a collection of young, fit bodies moving in perfect synchrony and beautiful grace in and out of seemingly painful poses. At once a confluence of limbs, an exercise in gravity defiance and a diverting pastiche of many different styles of dance and music, the Yaledancers show is, if nothing else, a beauty to behold.
The show is divided into two acts separated by an intermission. The first act contains five sets, beginning with “Helpless Against You,” choreographed by Amelia Reid ’06 and Ariel Phillips ’06. In this particular arrangement, seven Yaledancers sultrily fall into splits and somersault sulkily to Norah Jones’ smoky “I’ve Got to See You Again.” The lighting behind the dancers is all blue as Jones purrs longingly about an absent lover. The dancers’ faces are full of expression; they slink around the stage in despair. In the next arrangement, set to Maroon 5’s “Woman,” the dancers trying on a different role — seductively spinning around the stage, resting momentarily in yoga-inspired poses.
In the fifth and final set of the first act, nine dancers doff the vixen role for a frenetic set entitled “My Spirit Uncovered, Awake, Ready for Life.” This division includes a version of Rob Dougan’s “Clubbed to Death” (heard on the “Matrix” soundtrack and a Nissan Maxima commercial) that mellifluously melds into Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life.” The dance is perhaps the most contemporary and unconventional in the bunch. It features seizure-inducing lighting, frenetic jumping and dancers lifted, supine and crucifixion-like, with arms outstretched.
In the second act, the elegantly performed “Fuer Einsamkeit” fulfills the classical ballet a la Baryshnikov’s Nutcracker quota. To Shubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” five girls gracefully float across the stage clad in all white, hopping lightly to their toes and spinning smoothly. The dance, choreographed by Michelle Weitz ’06, was pretty standard pointe fare.
The dancers return to a more modern style with the next set. Seven Yaledancers perform a classy striptease to Poe’s “Hey Pretty (Drive-by 2001 remix),” choreographed by Liz Kennard ’07. The girls, clad in all black, wear long-sleeve, zipped-up jackets at the beginning of the piece. As the remixed song — the lyrics of which detail a boy’s ride in a BMW coupe that ends in a romantic encounter — gets louder and more bluntly salacious, the black jackets are violently ripped off by two male dancers. Spinning around in their sports bras, the girls turn cartwheels, smiling wryly. Dancers fall into a rhythm that truly fits. Whirling around like unapologetic seductresses, they look in control and confident. Their confidence and obvious enjoyment makes this an exceptionally enjoyable and amusing set.
The show ends with a rousing finale — all of the Yaledancers emerge in pink t-shirts and black pants and shimmy towards the audience as a quivering mass of tight tummies and a hurricane of high kicks to Pink’s unapologetic “There You Go.” The Yaledancers are in their collective element; here some of the dancers flash an assuring smile when they had worn a face of deep concentration earlier. The tall and the short, the breathtakingly fit and the nearly-breathtakingly fit, are united by a common uniform and similar range of flexibility. They pas de bourree and hip-swivel forward in an inverted triangle, as though they’re the Sharks and the audience is the Jets. Here, the dancers are at home. Confident, strong, even sexual, the Yaledancers move with a sense of recognition of their immense talent. When they dance, they are in control; the result is a show enjoyable for all.
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