In a word, Straight to the Pointe, Salto Dance Company’s winter show, was captivating. Their technique, skill, and creativity was evident at every turn.
Salto is unique because they perform both contemporary and ballet — the only dance group on campus to do so — and one of my favorite parts of their performance was how they blended the two styles.
Their opening number, “Felix Culpa,” was a perfect example. The dance pulled me in right away. It was performed en pointe, but it wasn’t a simple variation from a classical ballet. “Felix Culpa” was a dynamic routine that incorporated modern elements, and it really set the tone for the rest of the performance.
Salto continued to showcase innovative choreography with numbers like “Summer Friends,” a point number set to the song of the same name by Chance the Rapper. Before this show, I never could’ve imagined ballet set to rap music, but choreographer Emma Bergman proved that it may be unconventional, but it works.
Overall, I enjoyed the solos and small groups more than the large groups, as the bigger numbers could look a little cluttered at times. That’s natural — the more people on stage, the harder it is for them to all stay synchronized. And sometimes in the larger groups, some of the dancers seemed to lack connection to the music, making the numbers seem less cohesive.
About half the cast performed solos in the show. The solos were as varied in style as the group numbers, from classical variations to modern pointe to contemporary. Each solo impressed in a different way. Caroline Richburg’s “La Esmeralda,” a variation from Jule’s Perrot’s ballet of the same name, stood out for her effortless use of a tambourine, tapping it along to the beat while she performed technical movements. Another of my favorites, Holly Borla’s contemporary solo “Vision,” showcased Borla’s musicality and connection to the piece. The solos gave each dancer an opportunity to showcase her individual strengths and provided a nice change of pace from the groups.
Interspersed with the dance numbers were guest performances by hip-hop group FunKtion, a cappella group 58 Greene, and Irish dance company Leim Dance. I have mixed feelings on the guest performances; while each group was talented, I thought at times that they took away from the mood and flow of the show. However, the guest appearances made me interested in seeing what those other groups were about, providing mutual benefit to both Salto and the other organizations involved.
To close out the show, the full company surprised with a jazz performance to “Jingle Bell Rock.” I enjoyed the number, especially as someone who loves everything Christmas, but I thought it was a bit of an odd conclusion to the show since the number didn’t fit the style or mood of the rest. That said, a conclusion doesn’t necessarily need to be cohesive if it leaves the audience with a good taste in their mouth, and the finale certainly did that, revealing a different side of Salto that the audience hadn’t yet seen and injecting a bit of fun into an otherwise-serious performance.