They glide across the stage, balanced on the very tips of their toes, their lovely, lean bodies creating an impossibly straight yet fluid vision. At times, they leap in stark lighting, at others, they pirouette across a vibrant background. In one number, they writhe in all black, and in another, they flirt in sequined jackets. The contrasting elements of the Yaledancers’ fall show create a smorgasbord for the eyes, an aesthetically satisfying meal that finds harmony in the balance of contrasting elements of dance and design.
Yaledancers, the oldest dance group on campus, hosts its fall show this weekend through Saturday at the Educational Center for the Arts theatre (corner of Orange and Audubon streets). The inconvenient location is immediately forgotten upon entering the performance space. Reminiscent of a black box theatre, the space creates an intimate yet expansive environment — a contradiction similarly expressed in the Yaledancers’ performance. Pieces range from large group dance numbers comprising enough jumps and leaps to make your own calves ache, to solos and duos as vulnerable and private as a teenage girl’s diary.
While the balance of these qualities creates an enticing show, it is the intimate expression achieved by certain dancers that truly satiates the audience. Natalie Drucker ’14 gracefully and tragically creates the tale of “The Dying Swan” with remarkable emotional and physical honesty. Kelvin Vu’s ’11 presence is particularly captivating on stage; his complete surrender to the performance surges through every inch of his acrobatic body.
The synchronized balance created between duo partners keeps the show cohesive. While there are some synchronal rough spots — both emotional and physical — elsewhere in the show, there are none for Nick Murphy ’12 and Nate Freeman LAW ’11 in “Little Bit of Love,” where the emotional and physical unity is as rich as dark chocolate. Elena Light ’13 and Henry Gottfried ’13 time their comedic French foibles par excellence.
That being said, the expansive elements of the performance too deserve a nod. There are a record-breaking number of undergraduate and graduate dancers in Yaledancers this year — 28. Yaledancers typically selects only two new dancers per year; this year the talent pool was so phenomenal that they selected eight. Yaledancers set another record this year with five male dancers, which enabled them to “create more exciting stories,” said Yaledancers Co-President Gabrielle Karol ’11.
That is quite true. The male dancers prove an integral part in relating a range of stories — from war to homosexuality. The entire group tells stories that run the gamut: the comical theatricality of the grad student throw-down is matched by esoteric modern dance pieces. A new facet of Yaledancers this year is the inclusion of guest choreographers in the fall show. Most notable is Owen Davis, a choreographer who has worked in New York City and with the Harvard Ballet Company (but we won’t hold that against him).
Lighting and costume design were not mere embellishments in this production, but necessary elements developed with specificity and detail. Beautiful stage pictures were created with the help of some seriously well-orchestrated spotlights and background color effects. The range of costuming complimented the flavor of each dance piece.
While balance was abundant in the show as a whole, the lack of variety in dance genres was a bit surprising. The program consists of ballet, pointe, jazz and modern. There was much variety between different numbers within the same genre, but a tap piece would have been a welcome break from an otherwise modern-dance-heavy show.
Still, if you are hungry for a well-balanced artistic meal, the Yaledancers fall show will satisfy.