In their polished, sexy, and sassy fall show, the Yaledancers maintain their reputation for high-caliber dance on campus. Running the gamut from hula to tap to classical ballet, the show represents a journey through various forms of physical expression, characterized by a common thread of precision and grace.
The show opens with a whimsical tap number, choreographed by Erin Pettigrew ’05, Anne Ackerman GRD ’08 MED ’08, Liz Kennard ’07 and Mamie Air MED ’08. Four dancers sporting oversized Yale hoodies and jeans each take turns “realizing” the sounds their tap shoes make, their faces brimming with joy at the discovery. They evolve from making unsure clicking sounds to eventually “speaking” to each other through tapping. This progression echoes the audience’s journey from the outside world into the atmosphere of dance, music and movement.
Kennard’s interlude number is utterly enthralling. Choreographed by Pettigrew to music by Frou Frou, Kennard undulates on stage in a form-fitting black two-piece costume. Alternating between feline-like, sinuous, sexy moves and angry pouncing gestures, she embodies a tigress on the prowl, eliciting a reaction of combined intimidation and magnetism.
One of the more powerful numbers in the show belongs to Mike Apuzzo ’05. Apuzzo’s work is dramatic, using music by Linkin Park, Evanescence and Sting, and he is unafraid to play with unusual body shapes and gestures.
The piece opens with an eerie green light on the dancers, who are curved backwards in perfect backbends. They appear to be perfect semi-circular shapes. As the dancers come to life, their movements are characterized by sharp, mechanical angles with an undercurrent of possible violence.
The second half of Apuzzo’s song changes focus completely. The unspeakably beautiful and haunting music complements Apuzzo’s passionate choreography. Most of the dancers line across the back of the stage, swaying moving in tandem while two soloists run and embrace.
A number choreographed by Dionna Thomas ’06 begins with dancers coming onstage sporting bound wrists. Against haunting music from the movie “Requiem for a Dream,” they begin dancing with wrists still tied.
The idea of shackled women dancing presented without context or story is disturbing, and it is not clear whether the choreographer meant to use the device to disorient the audience or whether it was for pure sensationalism. The dancers’ moment of breaking free from their bonds is not given much dramatic emphasis — the bonds merely drop away, and the dancers reappear almost magically (or thanks to a quick costume change) in pink flowing skirts. Despite my discomfort, I felt this piece stood out due to its simple, gorgeous choreography.
Air’s piece is refreshing and creative in terms of both dance and costume. The dancers wear gold painted masks, black pants, slashed-up black shirts, and a red or gold sash. With karate-inspired moves, the dancers extend through and slice the air with flattened-out, pointed hands. The moves seem calculated, careful and almost ritualistic. Because the audience cannot view the dancers’ facial expressions, we are forced to focus on the spectacle of their bodies and appreciate the shapes and forms of the dance as opposed to the emotive presentation.
The finale number of the show, choreographed by Thomas, to “I Hope I Get It” from the musical “A Chorus Line,” showcased groups of performers in a presumed audition-style setting. With sky-high leaps in their choreography and vogue-inspired moves in the last sequence, the Yaledancers close their fall show with charisma and a showcase of talent.
There were no bad numbers that I could speak of in the show; only the spectacular and the slightly less spectacular. A brief anecdote as evidence that this show is universally appealing: I made a male friend come along with me to the show preview; he intended to sit on the side and do homework, but the show’s energy and the talented dancers drew him in, and he ended up leaving economics by the wayside and watching the whole show.
Further proof that Yaledancers really “get it” this time around.