REVIEW: Impact Dance Show


I stopped dancing some time around the second grade. As a child, I was interested in anything and everything. From piano lessons to writing camps to basketball, my parents had to draw the line somewhere, so dance was the first to be cut out of a long list of disparate activities. It has always been something that I wish I had continued though. To this day, I am in awe of dancers’ grace, poise, and flexibility. Every movement of the body seems purposeful, practiced . . . perfected.

Admittedly, after I attend dance performances, I find myself imitating their movements. (Side note: there should really be a “do not try this at home” warning on show pamphlets. I’ll confess to a couple of pulled muscles).

Nevertheless, I LOVE watching dance programs. On Friday evening, I had the opportunity to check out “Impact,” a student-run dance company on campus. Their show consisted of over a dozen numbers in varying styles of dance. The performers were adept and composed. Their movements were synchronous and their limbs shifted and swayed in really elegant ways.

One of my favorite numbers, “River,” was an up-tempo piece performed with attitude and intention. Their sharp gestures exuded confidence and passion.

The show was well organized and moved swiftly from number to number. There was a variety of solos, duets, a guest performance from both The Michigan G-Men and Ballroom Dance Team, and it concluded with a full number as all 18 women united for one final time on stage.

Be sure to check out Impact next semester on campus! They are a hardworking and talented team and deserve recognition!


REVIEW: Kuinka


The Accidentals, a quirky trio out of northern Michigan, opened tonight’s performances at The Ark. A violin, guitar, and percussive element gave way to an evening of diversion for a room full of Ann Arbor folk.

Like first stepping into a hot tub, I paused before allowing myself to fully understand and accept such a hard-to-pin-down genre as presented by The Accidentals. When I listen to a group I have never heard before, my first instinct is to liken them to a band I am already familiar with.

When I was unable to do so after the first few songs, I was puzzled yet intrigued. As their set picked up in tempo, I developed a newfound liking for their style and a respect for their distinctive sound.

Kuinka, the main act of the evening, was absolutely remarkable. Kuinka embodied all that is good in music: well-blended harmonies, stringed instruments, and a wholesome, happy energy.

I was impressed by Kuinka’s ability to pull off a quieter, acoustic, and raw sound in addition to their strong, loud, and lively numbers of the night. Their members are multitalented and, and they are a band worth your attention and time.

REVIEW: Handel’s Messiah

Handel’s Messiah, an acclaimed masterpiece composed in 1741, captures the beauty of time. Performing Messiah near the holiday season became a tradition in the 18th century, and Ann Arbor’s University Musical Society (UMS) followed in suit with this treasured Christmas tradition beginning in 1879. To listen to the melodies that have been enrapturing audiences for centuries enkindled in me a sense of wonderment. It was surreal to be a part of something so marvelously timeless. This is a cultural experience every student must have.

Hill Auditorium, the setting for the evening’s performance, was impeccable. The auditorium alone is beautiful with its intricate architecture, lighting, and gold accents. Even more, last night the venue was adorned in poinsettias reaching from one side of the stage to the other as a giant Christmas wreath hung above the heads of the Choral Union.

The male soloists that introduced the oratorio possessed powerful voices that resonated throughout the auditorium. Messiah opened with melismatic and operatic musical pieces. I was captivated by watching the vocalists because it appeared as if they were employing every part of their bodies to produce such sounds. I was impressed by their ability to stay on pitch despite the profusion of complex note changes, but they stood grounded with their posture and prowess.

The orchestra sounded exactly how you would imagine it to sound in your head. Constituted of nothing less than accomplished players, their musicianship was controlled and influential. You can likely conceptualize the image now: an expressive conductor directing the volume and timing of the strings of the violins, then turning his body towards the stand-up basses as they add another layer of depth to the music.

Perhaps the most-anticipated component of Handel’s Messiah, the “Hallelujah” chorus, proved to be miraculous in every way. Only ever having heard it in brief segments during movie clips or comedy skits, I yearned to hear the piece in its entirety. To conclude the second part, the audience stood and sang along with the Choral Union and the venue filled with the sounds of joy. I now recognize why Handel’s Messiah is and continues to be a timeless tradition. It reminds us of peace and of faith.

REVIEW: Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

It was a hole-in-the-wall with several …. well, holes in the wall. The Blind Pig, a music venue established in 1971, is a widely known destination of downtown Ann Arbor. Expecting nothing less than sticky floors, unidentifiable smells, and a room with wall-to-wall people, The Blind Pig did not stray far from my preconceptions. The only indicator that it wasn’t indeed the 70’s was the number of iPhones in the locus recording Snapchat videos and capturing photos of inebriated friends.


The band Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers blended right into this timeless, nonconformist setting. Before their performance began, they handed out 3 ft long fake flowers to audience members. The stage was an amalgamation of rose-tinted glasses, floral patterns, and psychedelic lighting.

When Joe Hertler sang, I was immediately drawn to his voice. It possessed a familiar-sounding quality while being entirely new to my ears. The music itself crossed the lines of a number of genres, including: funk, rock, Americana, and folk. The group was eclectic and spread their euphoric energy among the crowd. Much of the audience was dancing along to their grooves and singing the words to their songs. Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers had a faithful following.

Normally when I check out a band I have never seen, I’m not overly bothered by not knowing every lyric or not knowing at least some of the words. However, regarding Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, if you plan to attend one of their performances, I would recommend listening to their music ahead of time. From my observation and conversation with another attendee, those that were there knew Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers; they knew their lyrics, the members, their history, and upcoming performances. As a newcomer, it took a few songs to process their presence and style. Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers are an authentic and lively bunch.

REVIEW: ComCo Presents: Freudian Slip n’ Slide


The end of the week and comic relief are a matchless duo. ComCo, an improv comedy troupe on campus, illustrates this idea better than anyone. Their sense of humor, wit, and unparalleled rapport make them the most sought-after comedy group at Michigan.

I was hooked after their first performance last year and now have a tradition of going with friends to every one of their shows. The timing of their performances (Friday nights after seemingly endless school weeks) are opportune, often attracting more audience members than the Angell Hall auditorium can even accommodate.

Costing less than a soda, ComCo shows are priced at a mere $2.00/person, and their hilarity is priceless. Their performances are comprised of a series of improv games and scenarios which actively engage audience members.

On Friday, they began the night asking for suggestions from the audience for things such as words with a dual meaning, locations, articles of clothing, and food items. The members then interchanged scenes with unbelievable accuracy and rapidity. I was impressed by their ability to remember which scene they were in and with their adeptness at tying in jokes from earlier scenes.

One of the highlights of the night was a scenario where each of the members was given a topic (an idea shouted out from an audience member) for which they then had to act as a radio host for a made-up station. The auditorium went dark and then one of the ComCo members rotated randomly from one member to another, shining a flashlight on someone when it was his/her turn to speak. The members adopted different personas, which left the audience gasping for breath between laughs. I am continually awed by their knack for creating new personalities, voices, and mannerisms.

Another one of my favorite scenes of the evening involved ComCo members answering the prompt to come up with “rejected university ads.” One member stepped forward, saying “We have a student to hot GSI ratio of 3:1,” followed by another claiming we have a very “middle of the pack liberal arts program.” I particularly liked the university-related skits because I found comfort in laughing along with others who share similar U of M experiences and knowledge. Despite how enormous the University of Michigan is, there are still common threads in our experiences as students.

For anyone who has not yet attended a ComCo show (and even for those who have!), I highly recommend going. I am always impressed by the group’s ingenuity, energy, and creativity. They will not disappoint. 


REVIEW: Pigpen Theatre Co.

Singer-songwriter David Luning entered the stage as the opening act. The audience came to a hush and the lights dimmed as he plugged in his acoustic-electric guitar and began picking away gently at the strings. The venue reminded me of The Listening Room Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee with its small stage, intimate lighting, and attentive audience. David stood on stage naturally, tuning his guitar and telling stories. He warmed the audience with his banter and humility. When he began to sing, you could feel the emotion in his voice and recognize the authenticity of his words. The personal stories he would tell between songs brought the audience into his life. He enraptured the audience with his adeptness on the guitar, his compelling voice, and his ability to engage people.


The main act called themselves the Pigpen Theatre Co. and the group consisted of seven men and more instruments than I could count. Growing up, I was never a fan of boy bands. I didn’t have posters of the Jonas Brothers or One Direction on my walls. However, last night I think I learned what it feels like to be a so-called “fangirl.” Pigpen Theatre Co. is exactly what a boy band should look (and sound) like with their flannels, facial hair and folk music. Their harmonies were unparalleled and their musical prowess was inspiring. After each song, the band members would rotate instruments and start up again like it were nothing. They vibed really well with one another and with the music. A few songs into their performance, they all hopped off of the stage and found a place to stand in the middle of the audience. Without microphones or amplification, they brought the show to another level of intimacy. They played a few songs that way, and it felt like we were spectators looking in on their living room rehearsal. Pigpen Theatre Co. was an energetic and incredibly talented band, and I aspire to see them again! To check out their music, visit: