Swirling in a digital space, images of performers move in and out of view. Audience members are taken on a curated artistic experience, each work framed by a different striking background. Though unrelated in message, dances are linked in their ability to thrust viewers into a never-before-created world. Vivid colors, stunning silhouettes, clear intention– this is none other than Range of Reaction.
Having premiered on January 29th, audience members across the region watched Range of Reaction unfold on their very own screens. The digital showcase was presented by Arts in Color, a Department of Dance student organization dedicated to committed to promoting leadership and social activism in the arts. The showcase featured five original works, each of which was choreographed, performed, filmed, edited, and produced entirely by University of Michigan dance majors.
Beginning in silence, the work of Leah O’Donnell opens the show with its commentary on different perceptions of femininity. Dancers interact with various props such as a cloth mannequin and a broom, inviting audience members to consider the ways in which women are viewed at the societal level. Juxtaposition of person and prop creates several points in which it is impossible to tell what is human and what is not, thus emphasizing the illusions that O’Donnell says women are expert at creating.
Moving into its next work, Range of Reaction offers a trio choreographed by Chloe Chodorow that combines traditional and contemporary dance aesthetics to create what she calls a ‘contemporary fan dance’. The three dancers weave in and out of one another amidst the vastness of Nichols Arboretum, dancing with the fan as if it was a fourth performer. Continuing at a steady pace, the work has a visceral elegance that leaves audience members enamored from beginning to end.
The following work is a solo choreographed and performed by Cristina Benn. Set in a black box theater, Benn takes viewers on an incredibly expressive journey. She is the only individual in the space, but it is impossible not to feel her presence as she allows her story to unfold through her movement. The music is deeply powerful, but the passionate movement remains the rightful center of attention as Benn commands the space.
The end of the solo brings the beginning of the work of Katey Besser, a small ensemble work focused on the differences between individual and group think. Once again bringing viewers to the Arboretum, Besser’s work features four dancers and their efforts to break away from a collective. Dancers move in and out of different areas of the Arboretum, each of which frames dancers in a differently exciting way.
Bringing the showcase to a close, Rose Janusiak and Alana Packo present a deeply personal exploration of intimacy and interaction in queer friendship. The work is filled with imagery that finds a way to stay in the mind of viewers even hours after the showcase reaches its end. No scene in this dance film is the same, thus providing a complex representation of friendship.
The beauty of Range of Reaction lies in its creation of a world that is somehow both dreamily surreal yet faintly within reach. Meticulously curated, the showcase’s five original works create a varied landscape of differing aesthetics and intentions, ensuring that there is something that virtually any audience member will find enjoyable. This showcase is the quintessential COVID-era art: digital, emotional, and a representation of what can be created when armed with dedication and a vision. Those looking to fall head first into an escape from their current lives should look no further– Range of Reaction will pull viewers into a new universe as soon as they hit ‘play’.
To watch Range of Reaction visit