Tag Archive: Performance

  1. In Perfect Unison

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    The Yaledancers performers’ precise yet grand movements strike a bit of awe as they leap and spin to the music, shaking the ground as they land in perfect unison. The bass shakes the ground, too, right after giving the impression that the music and the dancers have become one. And then they breathe out all as one, giving a percussive quality to their movements that further blends the visual, the physical and the musical.

    The Yaledancers put on an exciting and haunting show running from Nov. 14–Nov. 16, in the Educational Center for the Arts Theater at 55 Audubon St. The performance combines the traditional and the audacious, the classical and the modern, and the somber and the exuberant to create something memorable. The soundtrack complements the physicality and grace of the dancers in sometimes unexpected ways — who knew that Rihanna was made for ballet? — but the pairings were consistently effective and enjoyable.

    An early highlight is Marissa Galizia FES ’15 and Karlanna Lewis LAW ’15 dancing to “Good Day” by Nappy Roots in whimsical boxer shorts and socks. The duo demonstrates terrific athleticism and unity in the performance, a show of exultant friendship and love. On many occasions throughout, they link hands and support each other, staying perfectly still for just a moment before returning to their powerful movements.

    With songs by artists as big as Adele and Rihanna, a student-written song might not be expected, but Karlanna Lewis’s piece, set to a rap song she wrote and produced, was extremely strong. The intensity of the song — telling the story of a past relationship turned emotionally abusive — reinforced the beauty of the dance. Since Lewis was behind both the dance and the song, she was able to tell a unified story; this connection was strongest in the donning and removal of sweatpants. There was something visceral about the way the dancers would wrap the pants around their necks all together, or tear them off as Lewis would drive her anger through the speakers.

    The most memorable dance of the night was “Cerceau” by Gracie White ’15, a visually stunning acrobatic performance on an aerial lyra, a metal hoop suspended from the ceiling by a single rope. With the twist of a limb, White would spin the lyra around or shift the weight, so all of a sudden she was upside down and hanging from her feet. And then, to the swelling echoes of “Over the Love” by Florence + the Machine, she would pull her body up through the hoop and the whole apparatus would twirl, propelled by her tremendous energy.

    Florence’s voice has that incredible ability to seem so powerful and so vulnerable at once, and White managed to channel that spirit in her movements. At times she would hang, limp on the lyra like a dying angel in a pristine white dress. Then she would be a blur of movement, coiling around the hoop with complete control. The room was completely motionless save for the hanging, spinning metal disc, which White controlled with precision and intensity as the music pounded and the lights behind her glowed.

    Intermission came next, which felt right. A moment to breathe is needed after a piece like that.

    “Mein Herr,” an eight-person schmaltzy Broadway-style dance was a good way to get back into the spirit of the performance. The dancers did traditional moves with a modern flair and delivered a simply fun experience. Not every dance has to — or should — be deep. Sometimes it’s just good to see people kick the air to a song from “Cabaret.”

    The performance proved that Rihanna has a perfect complement: ballet. Michaela Vitigliano ’18 improvised to the singer’s “Roc Me Out,” gracefully leaping as the bass of the song made the earth shake. For a voice so filled with power, the quieter strength of ballet formed an invigorating combination.

    The performance came to an end with the Broadway classic, “One” from “A Chorus Line,” complete with the glimmering gold bow ties and the top hats. Even schmaltzier than in “Mein Herr,” the dancers grinned with the Broadway toothy smile that was unstoppably contagious. It was a truly satisfying way to end, and let the audience leave feeling totally exuberant.

    The Fall Show was not meant to have a unifying theme, but rather to follow the inspiration of the company’s members. The pieces shared, however, a constant passion for that balance of intentionality and power that makes dance so beautiful. These dancers share tremendous chemistry, seen in the ensemble pieces where they would leap in perfect unison and land inches away from one another with grace and style. They shared a common energy in their actions, and became a mesmerizing unity in pieces like “Takatada,” in which the dancers would take tiny, speedy steps to the beat of experimental music.

    Yaledancers forms an incredible body in this show, one that makes the trek past Koffee? and TDHeav to the theater well worth it.

  2. A Space for Spontaneity

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    Mark Fedronic ’15 and Hanoi Hantrakul ’15 shuffled onto the stage in the Crescent Underground Theater, wearing pajama pants and slippers. Fredonic admitted he’d just been studying in the Morse library — Hantrakul had texted him a few minutes ago, asking if he’d perform in the Crescent. They sat down. Hantrakul settled around his guitar, while Fedronic adjusted the microphone. They asked for some suggestions: “Can we have a location, a person and an activity?”

    And so they serenaded the pope, recalling his adventures skinny-dipping on Mars.

    This was one of many quirky, impromptu performances at the inaugural Sunken Sounds Open Mic. A motley crew gathered in the Ezra Stiles and Morse College basement last Wednesday night — girls in work-out clothes, boys pre-gaming Toad’s and, of course, library dwellers. These 20 students put Yale on hold for two hours to perform and watch their peers perform. Some sang, others read poetry. Some improvised, others played covers. And after every performance, however brief and blushing, the small theater echoed with hoots and applause. Sunken Sounds founder Lex Caron ’13 called it “a different kind of vibe than what I think people are used to seeing.”

    Before the show, Caron and his co-organizer Sarah Solovay ’16 described the “fireball option.” A bottle of whiskey sat on the piano, and a few performers took swigs to steady their nerves. One pianist sipped as he played, to the crowd’s amusement.

    Of course, open mics are a sort of creative safety valve, an escape from suddenly fraught or unfulfilling performance spaces. Sunken Sounds was not a concert, a reading, or a play, but rather a reaction to Yale’s sometimes stifling performance culture.

    As Caron put it, he and his friends felt like they “didn’t have a space where [they] could perform on [their] own terms.” Sunken Sounds offers that missing space, where the stakes are low and the spirits high. “Where else on campus can you go to try something out in front of people who are also trying things out?”

    Judging by the impressive turn-out, many share Caron’s feelings. “I only personally knew about 5 people who came, which means that the rest…must have been responding to the flyers or to the Facebook announcements or emailings,” he admitted happily. Students showed up in pairs, trios and gaggles. Even the more hesitant kids, kids who came alone and looked a little lost, soon leaned back in their seats. The crowd was so relaxed it was almost catatonic — for two hours, everyone in the Crescent was happy. Everyone became friends, eager to discover secret, crazy talents. A group of sophomores mumbled the lyrics to “Go Down on You” by the Memories. Applause. Another student read confessional poetry. Applause. A third belted out a Russian folk song. Applause.

    Caron and Salovay were ecstatic. “It showed us that other people on campus are thirsty for a place like this,” Caron said.

    Caron and Solovay plan to host a Sunken Sounds Open Mic once every three weeks. While Caron hopes to spread the word and gain a following, he wants more than a full house. He wants inexperienced performers to stop by. Sunken Sounds aims to be a safe, creative space, a space apart from the University’s hectic, competitive arts scene. Of course, experienced artists are also welcome. Anyone is welcome. “It’s a movement!” said Caron.

  3. In Tango’s Embrace

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    My elementary school in Canada used to have theme days where the principal would hire an instructor to teach us different skills, like acting or tennis. They were low-budget workshops conducted by people in the local community, and I remember getting very excited about Drama Day and Soccer Day and Rope Obstacle Day. But there was one event that I always dreaded: Hip Hop Dance Day. Hip Hop Dance Day was the time of year when my clumsiness was put on display, when I was forced to wiggle my short arms and stomp my flat feet in front of a watching crowd of teachers and classmates. It was like gym class, but with higher stakes.

    For the sheer terror of this memory alone, I was hesitant about accepting my editor’s invitation to attend a session of the Yale Tango Club’s Wednesday night Argentine tango classes. I relented only because the website promised that no experience was necessary, and because I hoped I could redeem myself with this new dance form. But tango, as I soon learned, is not a dance. It’s an addiction.

    Chelsea Wells ’13, who joined the club in her sophomore year, said, “I’ve danced until my feet have gotten swollen. I like other dances, but I need tango.”

    Stationed at the New Haven People’s Center on Howe Street, the Yale Tango Club runs a Beginner’s Bootcamp taught by dance instructor Robin Thomas. The club, which is run by graduate students but also open to undergraduates and local residents, has been co-run by Jessica Keiser GRD ’16 and Sigma Colón GRD ’15 since last June. Keiser credits her own initial involvement with the club to Thomas, whose charismatic teaching style makes the class both fun and effective. Having danced tango for 30 years and taught students for nine, Thomas has a virtual “monopoly” over tango instruction at East Coast universities, Keiser said.

    When I arrived at the class, Thomas was just lacing up his beige suede shoes. He had a bald head and a wide smile, and he made the students laugh. He had a new dance partner for this year: Maria Elena Yvarra was raven-haired, slender and strong. She stood on her sparkling high heels like she was walking on clouds.

    Many tango students have expressed their appreciation for the physical intimacy that the dance creates between dancer and partner. Ten minutes into the lesson, I found myself holding hands with two strangers at either side of me; five minutes later, I was pressing my palms against an older man’s chest. I was nervous, but everyone around me seemed at ease. After each round of dancing wherein Thomas taught us a new step, we were instructed to change partners. Eventually I learned to cling more tightly to my partner, to follow more closely the patterns of his movement instead of shying away.

    Keiser explained, “Graduate student life can be particularly lonely, and [tango] is a way to find community, it’s a way to find physical touch.”

    “What attracts me most to tango is the embrace,” Alexander Chern ’11 agreed. “In this embrace, you need to mutually surrender and just completely give yourself to the person you are dancing with.” Chern and his former girlfriend took classes with the Yale Tango Club as undergraduates. Omar Mejia, a New Haven resident and downtown bartender, dated one his dance partners, though the couple has since broken up. Many people start tango for the romance, imagining “a man with a rose in between his teeth,” as Chern put it. They stay for the love of the dance.

    No greater proof of tango’s addictive nature can be found than in the Yale Tango Club’s founder herself. Tine Herreman GRD ’03 led the transformation of the club from a fledgling dance group in 2003 to an active social community that encompassed weekly workshops and a national festival. Today, the Yale Tango Festival is one of the largest school-run tango festivals in the country, and the club itself boasts about 100 members. Herreman is now a full-time tango DJ and organizer based in New York, devoting her time to creating tango networks in communities around the city.

    “It’s not that uncommon, as far as I can tell, that someone would leave their day-job for tango,” Keiser said. “It is unlike other ‘hobbies’ in the sense that it seems to have a way of eclipsing people’s lives.”

    As student passion for tango grows, so too does the size and scope of the club. In addition to Wednesday night classes and open dancing, the Yale Tango Club also holds Milonga sessions at Kelly’s Restaurant & Bar and Sunday Practilonga at “Gypsy,” the Graduate and Professional Student Center at Yale. Practilonga is for dance practice, whereas Milonga is essentially a dance party. This year, the club is also introducing Monthly Milonga at Edward S. Harkness Hall.

    For undergraduates, the biggest draw of tango might be the reprieve that it provides from the stress of college life. Similar to meditation, Wells said, it washes your mind of other thoughts and refreshes your mental state. During my lesson, I understood what she meant. Many of the moves required that the woman close her eyes while she was led by the man, so several times I simply mirrored my partner’s steps only to open my eyes and find us effortlessly standing on the other side of the room. I was so concentrated on the rhythm of the dance that sharing such physical closeness with a stranger no longer fazed me. I suppose that’s how it reels you in: it takes two to tango, and only one dance to get hooked.

  4. A Dancer Dances

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    On principle, I don’t take classes before 11:30am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This means, no matter what, that I won’t even shop requirements for my major at this time. Classes with shining evals, classes that somehow magically fill all the skill requirements at once, and classes that have hot TFs and free trips to Fiji all get crossed-off my list. If it meets before 11:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I don’t even read the course description. From 9:30 to 11:00, at New Haven Ballet on Audubon St. (just passed Koffee?), Ruth Barker teaches the Intermediate/Advanced Open Division ballet class, and school just can’t touch me and my ballet class.

    I grew up dancing because my family is full of dancers, and since I was young, dance class was a part of my everyday life, whether I liked it or not. By the time I got to high school and began dancing in my father’s company, I did more dancing than school, more dancing than sleeping. I chose Yale because there was no dance program and I saw it as my way out. Freshman year, for the first time since I was 6, I just did school, Netflix Instant, and friend-making, and it was blissful. But by the time winter came, I noticed that without dancing everyday, I felt lost, constantly bored and sleepy, and soft at the edges. More than a lack of fitness or freshman-15 thing (though it was definitely those things as well, am I right?), it was a me thing. Without dancing, I didn’t quite feel like me. I don’t always necessarily feel like “a dancer” — that kid who has Martha Graham quotes on their Facebook and says stuff like “for me, dancing is like breathing” — but I did realize freshman year that I’m happiest when my hamstrings feel long. I like to start and end my day stretching. I watch YouTube videos of the second act of Giselle during lecture. In a world where everyone seems to be living in their head, I feel like I live in my body, and (get ready for it, email me if you got me, babe) “God, I’m a dancer, and a dancer dancessssssssss!” So I googled the closest ballet studio over Winter Break and began taking Ruth’s class the first week of my freshman Spring. It was the best thing I could’ve done for myself here.

    Ruth’s Open Division class is full of people who carve out this chunk of time in their weeks in the same way that I do and for the same reason–they feel they must. It’s full of people who also say “I grew up dancing,” young things wearing knit knits and fleece warm-ups dangling from their slender frames, and even people who, though over 60, have better attendance than I do. And it’s because Ruth teaches a straight-up New York City Ballet style class, exactly 45 minutes at the barre and 45 in the center. We always start plies in second position and attitudes for her are wrapped and high, a direct falling-off of the way Mr. Balanchine liked them. She went to SAB, has perfect feet and intense hyper-extension, and fills the room with the exact amount of austerity to make it feel like a real ballet class. She is like a mother to me here, because, like my dad, she’s willing to yell at me when I’m not doing well in class, grab me by the ribcage when it’s popping out and not in check, look me in the eye and tell me, “Navy, point your feet harder.”

    My main homegirl at ballet class is a 65 year old Argentinian woman named Inni. When you stand next to her at the barre, you can smell her heavy perfume. She wears tons of eye make up, six pairs of socks under her slippers, and long sheer dresses over her silk genie pants and sports bra. She’s drawn to ballet for the glamor of it all, and always has been. Before every class, as we stretch together on the floor, she tells me how much she wishes she could have been a real ballerina: “You know, I wish it so bad. Don’t you? All of the performances and the lights? I’m too old.” But she takes the whole class, takes corrections from Ruth graciously, and does it because it’s clear that she absolutely must. And that’s the thing about ballet — if you must, you must.

  5. Ballet in the real world

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    Just balance. Plié a little better every time. Stick to the motion until the motion sticks to your body. You can always stand a little taller, and stretch a little further. Feel the rhythm of your aura. Really taste the water as you drink it. Remember that you don’t know your own strength, or your own beauty. Don’t forget to breathe.

    My ballet teacher’s voice is so soothing that it makes Björk’s sound like witch nails on a rusty chalkboard, and these are the types of things she says to us, lowly students of her introductory ballet class on Monday evenings. I swim in this schmaltz like an earnest puppy, practically nodding to myself while thinking, “You know what? I CAN feel my heart beat and my cheeks flush! Heyo, my body IS capable of fabulous things! Get at me, world.” It doesn’t constantly occur to me that my form is far from fabulous, or that everyone can always feel her heart beat, or even that those phrases are definitional clichés.

    For an hour and a half, once a week, I don’t question anything. There’s no unwritten rule at New Haven Ballet that I have to be critical of everything I hear or analytical about anything I do. Clichés are welcome, because there’s no pressure to be original; messing up is okay, because that’s really the only way to learn; closing your eyes whenever you feel like it is allowed, because you won’t miss eight vital things for every second your eyelids rest. This is a class not about being good, or even a class about doing good. It’s a class and a space and a time about feeling good. And for an hour and a half, once a week, I don’t worry about letting anybody down.

    I’m the only Yale undergrad in the class of mostly married people who are, as they say, “in the real world.” (Note: you can change this! All y’all are wholly welcome to join before my teacher and her gloriously disarming voice move on from New Haven Ballet and go onto spa music recording stardom or something.)

    I don’t know if any of the other students graduated from Yale, but I imagine some of them must have when I sense the perfectionist disquiet in the room. Some of them keep their eyes always on the teacher because trying to fouetté on their own and diverting from the exact set would be simply devastating. Others can’t stand the sheer failure of having broken fourth position two beats too soon; I can tell from their facial contortions that their self-loathing inner voices are reeling: “No! NO! Bad, Sasha, that was so bad!” The stakes are low, but anxiety runs high.

    It’s an introductory course without auditions, rehearsals, credit or grading, but Sasha is enveloped in her own vanity (it seems like a bit of a Stockholm Syndrome situation to me). It’s not just that she has to look good — she also has to make it look easy. She has to do it better than everyone else in the room, and she has to get some kind of approval from the teacher.

    Last week, I went in for a complicated move and laughed as I did it completely wrong. One woman rolled her eyes, and said, “You’re just so…in your twenties.” Is that how it goes, I thought, are we supposed to be footloose and fancy free right now and then become uptight and scared as we get older? Will there be a point when we stop laughing at our mistakes? Then I thought, oh right, our stakes — a B on a paper, your byline on an uninspired article, a bad improv performance — ARE so low.

    Every time our teacher announces that we’ll do pliés and arabesques and turns individually across the room, the other women all pile in a corner, blushing and trying to remain unseen by the teacher and by one another. They’re totally shocked that I just go first and don’t seem to get embarrassed when I fall, which is almost always but who’s really counting? Well, maybe they are. Maybe they’re so convinced they’ll be judged because they’re passing harsh judgment. And, okay, I must look straight up foolish trying a triple turn for the first time. But at least I did something, left the corner, moved my body, gave it “great action,” as my teacher would say. Why would I care what anybody thinks of how I look flailing around, when we’re all — all of us, every single one — just beginners?

    The New Haven Ballet’s Open Division Beginner’s Course meets on Monday from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at 591 Whitney Avenue. Yale students receive discounted tuition fees.

  6. I’mma Buy U a Backlash

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    While you and your biffles lost yourselves, your phones and your self-worth within the mud pit that is Old Campus during Spring Fling, others probably plugged their ears to block out the unwanted noise.

    As a matter of fact, it should come as no surprise that the arrival of T-Pain last Tuesday ruffled a few feathers. When someone at Yale gets offended, we all know. We are an emphatic bunch — sometimes irascible, sometimes dogmatic, sometimes in the right. And for each of the past three Spring Flings, at least one artist selection has set our opinionated cogwheels in motion. These musicians share two points in common: they are rappers, and some listeners tend to brand their music as degrading to women.

    Two years ago, while MGMT’s apathetic performance took everyone and their mothers aback, the Ying Yang Twins had already caused some members of our campus to shake their heads in disapproval. Despite what was perceived as their misogynistic image, the Spring Fling committee at the time described them as an “unbeatable option” and stressed that their selection did not represent an endorsement of their lyrics’ message. Still, as a challenge to this choice, an alternate concert was held in the Trumbull courtyard on the day of Spring Fling, where student groups performed amid pizza and face painting while the Twins took the stage on Old Campus.

    “While we considered a few hip-hop artists who were not offensive, when we evaluated all of the hip-hop artists solely based on entertainment value and cost, the Ying Yang Twins were clearly the best choice,” the Spring Fling committee wrote in a letter published in the News a week before the event.

    Even Lupe Fiasco caused some stir last year. “Can you please put your titties closer to the 22s?” he sings in one of his ditties (but at least he asks politely). The outcry was minimal, the show went on and the crowd still sang along to “Superstar.”

    Many obstacles seem clear during the artist selection process. It is tough to find a mainstream, affordable rapper who is not somewhat objectionable, and the powers that be obviously place more emphasis on procuring an artist that the majority of Yalies will enjoy.

    That said, the assertive words of Kathleen Powers ’12, who has written two opinion pieces opposing two different Spring Fling acts, make a valid point: “Events like the Ying Yang Twins’ performance, DKE’s parade and T-Pain’s impending arrival have a common source,” she wrote last week. “Our culture deems this rhetoric acceptable.”

    Now T-Pain has triggered a similar backlash to the one in 2010 in the wake of his appearance. However, no protest events were held as an alternative, and as of Wednesday night, there have been no confirmed accounts of Yale women actually taking their motherfucking shirts off when T-Pain lyrically commanded them to do so.

    “With T-Pain, the number of people who were excited to see him far exceeds the handful of people who were upset because they find his music offensive,” said Emily Yin ’13, marketing vice president for last year’s Spring Fling committee.

    Yin then points to the Spring Fling survey sent out in a campus-wide email months prior to the concert. As a former member of the committee, she said, what students say they want is very influential. The committee looks through the artists that ranked the highest on the survey, excludes those that would not fit the budget, and then attempts to pick the acts that would indeed perform well live and muster a crowd, she explained. In essence, if students didn’t like T-Pain, the committee wouldn’t have voted in favor of T-Pain.

    It’s not as if the committee never considers an artist’s reputation. A year prior to the Ying Yang Twins’ performance, the committee decided against pursuing hip-hop artist Akon in spite of his popularity among students, because of his music’s prurient and chauvinist message (“Smack that till you get sore,” “But you already know, I wanna f— you,” the list continues.)

    All in all, most Yalies interviewed don’t necessarily see a trade-off between talent and offensiveness.

    “It’s important that we balance our desire for big headliners with our other values as a community,” Jaya Wen ’12 said. “It is true that the very act of paying an artist to visit our campus and perform for our student body is an act of endorsement.”

    And while the committee’s main concern is to bring artists that can get students riled up about the event, Ifeanyi Awachie ’14 said Spring Fling does not have to be a showcase of artists who are already popular, but an opportunity for students to discover new music.

    For as Powers and Wen suggest, both our excitement and our student activities fees are being proffered to the artists we bring to Spring Fling. If our voice is what truly counts, as the committee has stated time and time again, then perhaps the survey sent out to the student population should include explicit questions about selection criteria and not just an extensive inventory of artists. That’s one of many potential new approaches, according to Matthew Shafer ’13.

    “It would allow student opinion about the importance or non-importance of artistic politics and ethics to be reflected, even if they aren’t familiar with the content of the lyrics of every artist on the long list that’s sent out,” Shafer said.

    This week, most of us were “On A Boat” with T-Pain in exhilaration and drunken haze. Come next year, unless we can reach a consensus on how to find a follow-up to his act, we will always come across a handful of Yalies jumping off the Spring Fling ship in protest.

  7. Before Toad’s, 3LAU keeps party on Old Campus

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    When it comes to music, my taste lacks nuance. My analysis of live performances follows a simple flowchart. Does the concert move me to tears (example: Jeff Mangum performing solo at the Shubert earlier this semester)? And if not, does it make me want to drop everything and dance until I’m dizzy? If I cannot answer “yes” to either of these questions, I will deem the act unworthy of the effort it takes to see it live (even if the show takes place in my own backyard). Like I said, unnuanced. And my criteria for Spring Fling is no different.

    3LAU, pronounced “Blau,” is the title name of Justin Blau, a young producer and mashup artist known for his remixes of Top 40 tracks. His performance occupied that critical final hour of the day, the transition period when Yalies make or break their Spring Fling dreams before moving on to Toad’s. Though his large online following gives credence to the catchiness of his remixes, a critical question remained. 3LAU’s tracks are invigorating enough when blasted through computer speakers, but would his onstage performance be enough to sustain that Spring Fling high during the later hours, making us forget our tired limbs and parched lips in order to dance some more?

    The giant mosh pit that formed near the front of stage was enough evidence to suggest the answer: yes. Farther away from the stage, the dancing was a little less aggressive, with the rest of the crowd jumping and twisting to the familiar beats of their favorite party music. The tracks were heady as 3LAU took favorite pop tracks like Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Otherside” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and blended them with new sounds. His remixing did not contain any surprises, but it did take the music we already love to brand new levels. In a way, 3LAU’s whole performance felt like party-masturbation, allowing us to drink in pleasurable tunes that had been amplified, their appeal becoming even more overwhelming and visceral. Not exactly the type of music esteemed by the intelligentsia, but for college kids looking for an excuse to dance in a sweaty heap, it did the job.

    Though 3LAU’s dancing and bouncing throughout the set kept the audience engaged, there were some moments when he and his table set-up looked small. The neon light and fog show was not enough to prevent him from looking swallowed up by the stage. Unlike other musical performances, the audience sometimes lacked a clear visual anchor on which to pin its energy.

    But luckily he fed the energy in another way. He had a natural intuition about the audience, expertly using his beats to control the crowd. In each of his remixes, he created a taut suspense, waiting until the last moment to hit the crowd with his most potent sounds. The highest highs were reached during the mashup “Set Fire,” a visceral, urgent twist on Adele’s beloved pipes. During this track especially, Spring Fling dreams, previously disappointed by underwhelming performances of T-Pain and Passion Pit, were fulfilled, the audience turning into a wild, flailing tangle of arms and bobbing heads.

    Some may protest that 3LAU’s music is only an unapologetic pandering to catchy, poppy, superficially appealing tunes. This may all be true, but to the people who were dancing under drunken veneers, his remixes had the perfect mix of new and old. The music itself was not life-changing enough so for audience members to pinpoint a single incredible moment, but as a whole, the performance was a good climax for the insanity of the day. Forget talk of musical innovation or complex chord progression to savor — music for Spring Fling only needs to be good in the moment. 3LAU was conducive to unselfconscious dancing, and, in the end, that was all anyone cared about.

  8. Driveby Live Passion

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    I’m going to be honest here; before the Spring Fling line up was released, I had never heard of Passion Pit. It’s possible that I’m not indie enough (shameless fan of now-mainstream Gotye) but I’d like to think that’s not the case. Listening to their songs on YouTube made them seem like every other well-educated, take-themselves-too-seriously, offbeat band. However, I’m glad to say that I changed my opinion after watching them live.

    Arguably the best performance of the day, Passion Pit brought a certain flavor of authenticity and a raw emotion that Yalies were seen to enjoy more than the mechanised sounds and lip synching of T-Pain. Bursting forth with energy, the members of the electropop band jumped around on stage, encouraging the crowd to sway and lose themselves to the music.

    Having experienced the show from seven feet above the ground (literally — by being placed on someone’s shoulders), it was clear to me that Passion Pit’s set was enjoyed by most of the concert goers present on Old Campus. Following on the heels of undergraduate Yalie opening acts, their performance started off a little lackluster and lethargic — probably due to the restlessness and inattentiveness of the crowd. But all that changed soon after. From above, watching the crowd was like watching a mass of sluggish sea creatures experiencing a common electric shock and suddenly buzzing to life together. Although there weren’t many screaming fans hyperventilating or asking for autographs, people were seen enjoying the music by linking arms, pumping up and down, and even slow dancing to their own beat.

    Deriving their name from a slang term for drive-in theaters, the band’s music evokes the same sense of “romantic allure and privacy” that their name conjures up. Starting off with some rather typically indie songs, they soon moved on to their more distinctive and popular music. The band played many of the tracks off their album “Manners,” which features their best songs. It’s a shame that most of the crowd was too busy appreciating the sweet, honey-like quality of lead singer Michael Angelakos’ voice to pick up on the varied, velvet layers of the songs. However, as Shreya Ghei ’15 said, “They were unique. More importantly, they were so much better than T- Pain!”

    The band ended their set with “Little Secrets,” the perfect conclusion to an amazing performance. For the stereotypical Yalie — garbed in neon Wayfarers matching neon pants — Passion Pit’s mix of mellow and stimulating songs was entirely fitting. Yes, like every other alternative band, Passion Pit croons about being hurt, being lovers, having feelings in general and feeling alive, but that’s okay. Their music is an apt background to our memories of Tuesday’s events, whether seen from high up in the air or with faces pressed onto the soil or into the bushes. It is befitting of the stage set forth by Spring Fling, where bodies and sweat mingle with nostalgia, despair, hope and the coy promises of more to come.

  9. A poet is born, and it’s a bit T-Painful

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    Before you read this article, be forewarned: prior to my admission to Yale, the only concerts I regularly attended occurred not in stadiums, but in opera houses and symphony halls. You might call mine a different (read: bizarre) childhood. Nonetheless, I have managed to enjoy myself thoroughly in the sweaty throngs of the last three Spring Flings.

    This year’s festivities, as I’m sure you’ll agree, were quite something. That the weather cooperated was nothing short of a miracle. Better still, no Yalie could ignore the sheer joy that captured the crowd as Passion Pit finally launched into “Little Secrets” (but actually, who doesn’t like that song?).

    But the true spectacle of the day belonged to none other than the king of Auto-Tune himself. Though I can’t fathom what exactly my classmates might have expected of T-Pain, I must confess that seeing the man in the flesh was rather disorienting. You see, ever since I first heard his 2007 hit “Buy U a Drank,” I have thought of T-Pain not as Faheem Rasheed Najm (yes, that’s his real name), but rather as a grill-sporting robot voice clad in some seriously dope shades. You can imagine my surprise when he swaggered onto the stage wearing a Yale zip-up and T-shirt ensemble. For all my musical narrow-mindedness, I caught myself delighting in the computerized waves of sound that churned through Old Campus. This was especially surprising given that I still don’t know all the lyrics to “Get Low”; I almost felt guilty.

    But as the set wore on, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being duped. As far as I could tell, much of the singing — perhaps shouting is a better term — came not from T-Pain, but from his sidekick, DJ Lil Boy. At points, I caught myself staring at the on-stage dancers, unaware of the particular song blasting in my ears. Yet more dubious was the possibility that T-Pain was merely lip-syncing while his entourage did the real work. While turning these thoughts over in my head, it hit me that I was thinking much too hard. I had missed the point: with T-Pain, what you see (or hear?) is what you get. After all, I couldn’t very well expect an artist who has essentially built his career on clever applications of tuning software to deliver a knockout live performance. He gave us not just what we wanted, but what we expected; Lord knows we Yalies love being right. I doubt anyone turned up sincerely hoping that T-Pain might, God forbid, reinvent his musical style on the spot.

    But let’s be serious, even an impromptu Celine Dion cover would have proved less bizarre than what happened near the end of the set. Apparently seized by his creative muse, T-Pain delivered unto us his very own Sermon on the Mount, which I have taken the liberty of titling “Me Time.” Fortunately, thanks to a little voice in my head, I caught the whole thing on my iPhone. You see, contrary to popular belief, T-Pain is not some talentless lyric-writing sidekick. In fact, he has penned numerous successful hits, securing several Grammys along the way. In his own eyes, though, T-Pain is tired of playing pinch hitter for your favorite rappers. No, “this year, it’s all about T-Pain.”

    Now that I’ve watched the video over again, what tumbled out of his mouth amounts to not just a self-congratulating monologue, but an outright challenge to his haters. Believe me, I’d love to relate here some of the things he said last night, but I fear T-Pain’s words might not jive quite the same way in print (that is, offend most everyone in some way). Just take my word for it that some of the tamer lines would have made even Charlie Sheen wince. But what puzzled me more than the vulgarity and randomness of T-Pain’s aside was the reaction of the crowd, myself included. Come to think of it, the tone of his lengthy freestyle was not much different than that of the bulk of his work (most of which features certain words starting with “p” and “n,” if you get my drift). Essentially, T-Pain surprised us by doing what no one was really expecting: he talked. Did we suddenly become better listeners, or perhaps more sensitive, when he stepped down from his pedestal of Auto-Tune? I can’t really say. At any rate, it was clear that about four minutes into his spiel, T-Pain had thoroughly confused his audience. What with the uncomfortably silent transitions between songs and the deadliest microphone to grace the Spring Fling stage, T-Pain managed to put on quite a show, if you can call it that.

  10. Yaledancers Spring Show

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    Three words describe the Yaledancers spring show: sharp, graceful and dangerous.

    The show features mostly contemporary dance with pieces set to pop or rock songs by musicians such as The Killers or Shakira — tracks that might easily turn up on the playlist for a suite party. However, the resemblance ends there. The Yaledancers show is like the shuffling found at most campus parties the way a forest fire is like a lit cigarette.

    One of the highlights of the show is “I’ve Got Soul,” choreographed by Molly Gibbons ’14, which manages to tell a silent, sweet and slightly sappy story in three minutes. The story starts with two dancers, each kneeling alone in a pool of light, and it ends with a shy shuffle together and a joining of hands. In between, there is a dizzying whirl of other dancers, weaving in and out of the story.

    “I was inspired by a particular story and was excited to explore it through the nuances of movement,” Gibbons said.

    Another noteworthy piece is the triptych consisting of “Miss You,” “Missed You,” and “Remiss,” a two-person dance split into three segments and performed at intervals throughout the show. The break points are seemingly random: The dancers simply freeze and the music stops in the middle of a phrase, giving the impression of a video suddenly cut off. The last installment features a remarkable moment that defies expectations the viewer might not even be aware of — when Greta Stetson ’12 takes the lead and lifts Nick Murphy ’12 into the air.

    “We included that lift partly to make it clear that this was very much a two-directional relationship. Often in partnering, the male exclusively lifts the female; but in a friendship, the two people should support each other, regardless of their gender,” Stetson said.

    The third show-stealer is the lighting. In several pieces, the lights are dimmed completely, and the backdrop is lit up in bright red or blue. The dancers become no more than stark black shadows against the light, setting a sharp, energetic mood that underlies the whole show. There are certainly quiet pieces in the production, including an unexpected snippet of ballet at the start of the second act. But overall, the fast numbers hit the hardest with sheer eye-riveting power, where the dancers move with bold, deadly intent like prowling hunters.

    If there is one caveat about the show, it is the slightly disjointed nature of it. There is no unified theme, and the mood shifts wildly from piece to piece. Rebecca Distler ’12, Yaledancers president, said that the lack of a theme was intentional.

    “Yaledancers doesn’t have a central theme,” she said. “We focus much more closely on technique, choreography and the individual message of each piece.”

    The Yaledancers’ spring show runs from April 12 to 14 at the ECA Theater, located at 55 Audubon St.

  11. YaleDancers: Hotness®

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    Yaledancers is hot. Of course its members are talented, entertaining and artistic. But mainly, they’re hot. They lift, twist and turn effortlessly in their costumes and always remind us that what we were doing at Toad’s last Wednesday night was NOT dancing. Their sassy, diverse and flawlessly executed fall show is a testament to their hotness.

    The Yaledancers fall show is held in the faraway Education Center for the Arts Theater ­on Audubon Street — something that would usually deter me from attempting to attend. But once the show starts it becomes obvious why they keep going back to that location. Many Yale productions suffer from inadequate spaces: bad lighting, poor seating and small stages limit many shows from realizing their full potential. ECA has excellent lighting, plentiful seating and a huge stage — hint: Yale productions, use this space; it is superior to Off Broadway. Yaledancers takes full advantage of the stage and its lighting right from the start.

    The hour-and-a-half-long show opened with the silhouettes of nine girls seductively snapping against a red backdrop. The first piece, “It Don’t Matter,” sets the show off on the right note. Set to the song “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” by Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and choreographed by Amanda Gould ’12, the piece is sexy, soulful and fun just as the song elicits. It began quite sassily, with sharp, synchronized movements reminiscent of a classy burlesque show. The dancers then transitioned into more technical dance moves with a modern twist, ending with a playful fingering of their suspenders.

    Yaledancers then completely changed the pace, with a beautiful piece by newcomer Tim Creavin ’15. Creavin’s “You Begin” is a powerful, melancholy solo set to Mum’s “K / Half Noise.” It is hot, but in a different way from the show’s overtly sexual introduction. Creavin moved fluidly, taking advantage of the whole stage and emoting in a way that opened himself to a vulnerable audience. The juxtaposition of his smooth dancing and the sassy feminine performance that preceded would have been enough to hook me for the whole show. Luckily, the show continued to be powerful and entertaining throughout the performance.

    Throughout the night, different styles of dance were put next to each other in the lineup. Everything from the costumes to the lighting to the song volume was deliberately planned to make each piece a unique experience. While the show presents itself as a package, Yaledancers puts on a new show with each act.

    The show was the result of a semester’s worth of work, with all of the acts choreographed, taught and presented by the group members themselves. Yaledancers is unique among undergraduate organizations in that it includes graduate students. There was even an exclusively graduate girls piece set to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls),” aptly named “Grad Girls Run The World.” One especially beautiful piece was choreographed by an injured dancer who is not currently a member of the group. Choreographed by Molly Gibbons ’14, it created a beautiful story set to Lady Gaga’s country-ish hit “You and I” that showcased the most incredible lifts of the show.

    Yaledancers brings the audience into each performance. “Useen Vee Bhangra Paonde! (We dance bhangra, too!)” choreographed and danced by Natalia Kholsa ’14 and Scott Simpson ’11 is my favorite piece and will probably be yours too. A departure from the traditional dance typical of Yaledancers, it was incredibly fun (with their trademark hotness) and authentically choreogoraphed right down to the traditional outfits. Simpson and Kholsa smiled throughout the entire dance, and you will too.

    There are a lot of shows out this weekend, and it will be tempting to go to the one closest to your dorm. The Yaledancers show is well worth the ticket preorder and subsequent walk. Catch the show at the ECA Theater Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3.