It’s not too often that you see dancers en pointe, wearing Hawaiian shirts with sunglasses and holding up a beach towel.
But that’s exactly what Salto Dance Company did in their winter show, Reverence. And though unexpected, it was a move that cemented Salto’s identity as one of the most unique, innovative dance groups on campus.
Reverence is a French word meaning “a feeling of great respect.” At the end of performances, dancers perform a gesture called a reverence to show respect to the audience, and the audience applauds to return that respect to the dancers. After Salto’s opening number, the club presidents came onstage to teach the audience how to perform a reverence. Then they continued the show and put the crowd under their spell.
Salto is known for its blend of many different styles of dance; they are the only student dance group on campus that performs en pointe, but they also perform contemporary and lyrical pieces. Many of their dances transcend genre entirely. And indeed, Reverence provided a perfect blend of tempo, genre and mood.
Say My Name was the first piece that really stuck out to me. A contemporary piece, the choreography pulled me in from the beginning and the leaps and turn sequences were technically impressive.
Several dances evoked nature with their movement. Revolution, a contemporary pointe piece, flowed like water, and San Francisco, the second act finale, made me envision birds. The technique and choreography were beautiful and captivating.
The solos — mostly classical variations — also impressed. The audience oohed and ahed over the difficulty and quality of movement. However, where Salto really shined was when it went outside its comfort zone.
Sunshine was the first example. Set to the song by Kyle and Miguel, it featured dancers en pointe wearing beach clothes. In the middle of the number, they held up a towel with the words “Salto brings the sunshine.” The dance was full of personality and evoked an almost Broadway feel. It was unexpected from a ballet and contemporary company, but it worked.
And when Salto came on for the second act, their opening number was entitled simply Broadway. Set to a medley of songs from Chicago and A Chorus Line, the musical theatre number was different from anything else in the show. It showcased a completely different side of the dancers and brought out a performance quality that was sometimes lacking in other pieces, especially in the first act.
Another unique piece was Focus, which featured three dancers using contemporary technique and three dancers en pointe. The choreography blended the two styles seamlessly and highlighted the strengths of each individual dancer.
When the show ended and the dancers came out for a curtain call, they did their reverence. And while the gesture was meant to show respect to us to thank us for coming, all I could feel was respect for them for blending so many styles, for displaying a full range of emotion, for pulling me in and never looking back.