REVIEW: Flux by Cadence Dance Company

Cadence Dance Company performs “Green Light”

“Continuous change or movement.”

That’s the definition of the word flux. But it’s also a summary of Flux, Cadence Dance Company’s winter show.

With a collection of contemporary pieces set to a soundtrack of indie music, Cadence, a self-choreographed dance company, showcased more than just movement. They told stories with every piece, stories that changed and evolved as the dances developed.

Especially in their large-group numbers — which I preferred to the small-group ones — Cadence showed a willingness to take risks with their choreography. The opening number, “8 (Circle)” utilized unique formations and lifts to great effect.

The small-group numbers didn’t have enough dancers to use those formations, so several of them had more standard contemporary moves. That didn’t mean it wasn’t innovative, though. My favorite of the small groups was “All Night,” which featured stools as props.

Cadence was strong technically, especially when it came to their turns.  There you could see the amount of rehearsal they put in; their turns were well synchronized even in complicated turn sequences. But at the same time, they didn’t overdo it on the turns.

However, my favorite technical aspect of Cadence’s dances were the lifts. Many numbers — especially the large-group ones — incorporated impressive lifts that at once showed grace and strength.

I was especially impressed with the finale, “Landfill.” The choreography was unique and affecting. The lifts and turns looked good. And though it was a full-company number, the end featured partner work. The partner choreography added to the meaning of the dance’s narrative about a toxic relationship. The two partners’ chemistry was such that it made you feel something. The number packed a punch and was the perfect ending to the show.

Cadence’s penultimate piece was called “Vor Í Vaglaskógi.” It was a senior number, a concept I haven’t seen from any other student groups. I liked the concept of giving the seniors one last number together, and that added more meaning to the movement.

That said, some of Cadence’s other numbers were somewhat forgettable. They weren’t bad by any means, but there was somewhat of a gap between the best numbers of the show and the others. I may have made the show a little shorter — putting more emphasis on the strongest numbers without really taking anything away.

The guest numbers — from hip-hop crews FunKtion and Encore, a cappella ensemble The Friars and tap dance group RhythM Tap — complemented Cadence nicely without overshadowing the main show.

All in all, Flux was an impressive concert that brought to the table things I haven’t seen from any other student dance group.  Their passion for what they did shined through and created something unique and bigger than themselves.

REVIEW: halfway between

halfway between was a show about relationships.

Relationships with the other dancers, with the space, with their faces and bodies and the music.

Both the choreography and the dancers themselves captivated, really illustrating the relationships central to the storylines of each dance.

The concert, a senior showcase for three BFA Dance students, began with “b r e a k,” a piece choreographed by Danielle Fattore. Although the piece was technically not a solo, Fattore was the centerpiece while the rest of the dancers served to set the scene. Despite minimal sets, the piece painted a vivid picture of a bustling city as Fattore danced down the streets, completely ignored by the rest of the crowd going about their daily business. The piece was simultaneously upbeat and cynical, the tale of a girl unknown and unnoticed.

Both “Away With It,” choreographed by Callie Marie Munn, and “Ellipsis,” choreographed by Yoshiko Iwai, utilized the entire space in unique ways. The choreography felt animalistic at times as the dancers fought each other, as if each aimed to assert dominance over their own territory. The dancers pulled off this portrayal near-flawlessly, exerting precise control over their body and movement.

The music they used wasn’t easy to dance to, but the dancers proved they were up to the challenge, staying on the beat and hitting their accents. There were a few points where, either by accident or by design, the music stopped, but the dancers handled it with grace, still moving to a nonexistent rhythm. However, at times I felt a bit of a disconnect between the music and the choreography, almost as if the music was just something on in the background while the dancers created a story, and I would have liked to see a greater bond between the music, the choreography, and the dancers.

One of my biggest complaints about modern dance is that the dancers sometimes lack expressivity, and I felt that “Away With It” and “Ellipsis” both suffered from this. They were intriguing explorations of relationships, reminiscent of a piece of performance art, but both lacked the emotion that truly pulls me into a dance. So when Munn performed her self-choreographed solo, “With It Or It,” it was a breath of fresh air to see the emotion on her face. The piece was a lot simpler than those that preceded it, but it was also the one with which I connected the most.

Munn’s two pieces in the show were “Away With It” and “With It or It.” Given the similar titles and the fact that the music she used for both dances was from the same album, I wondered if the solo was meant to be a continuation of the group dance. However, the two pieces didn’t seem similar to me and I couldn’t find a real connection between them.

“Mend,” choreographed by Fattore, was the perfect finale. The only dance in the show to a song with lyrics, “Mend” played like a theatre performance, telling the story of a night in Paris with friends. I was especially impressed by the first soloist in the piece, Kiara Williams, whose expressions truly carried the narrative. “Mend” explored many of the same themes as the rest of the show: relationships, group dynamics, and identity.

My favorite thing about halfway between is that it wasn’t mere entertainment; it made me think about themes familiar to every college student. And that’s what marks a good piece of art.

halfway between runs for one more night, tomorrow at 8 PM at the Dance Building, and if you’re looking for somewhere to be, I highly recommend this unique show. Tickets are $7 general admission at the door.

PREVIEW: halfway between

For dance students at Michigan, their coursework concludes not with a thesis or project, but with a concert.

halfway between, a BFA dance concert, is the culmination of four years of hard work for three students: Danielle “Dee Dee” Fattore, Yoshiko Iwai, and Callie Munn. The concert consists of solos and group work choreographed and performed by the students themselves.

The dance program consists of technique classes, mostly in ballet and modern dance, and labs in improvisation and chorography as well as coursework on the history, culture, and biomechanics of dance. This concert is the consummation of that work. As someone who has recently gained a deeper appreciation for the art of dance, I’m eager to see their performances.

halfway between runs this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (December 7, 8, and 9) at 8:00 PM at the Betty Pease Studio Theater in the Dance Building. The show runs about an hour with no intermission. Tickets are $7 general admission at the door.

PREVIEW: Straight to the Pointe

Ballet is often viewed as separate from other forms of dance. Most performances that aren’t strictly ballet don’t involve any ballet. But in reality, ballet, often called the foundation of all dance, isn’t as different from other styles of dance as it is often perceived.

Salto Dance Company, a student-run dance company, is the only dance group at Michigan that performs ballet. But even for a pointe group, they’re unique because they don’t solely do ballet. Straight to the Pointe, Salto’s winter showcase, will feature a blend of classical ballet with contemporary and lyrical styles.

If you like dance, music, or punny titles, you should come see Straight to the Pointe presented by Salto Dance Company. The show is this Friday, December 1, at 7 PM at the Mendelssohn Theatre in the Michigan League. Tickets are $8 for students, $10 for adults, or free with Passport to the Arts.

REVIEW: The Little Mermaid

Tonight I had the opportunity to see The Little Mermaid performed by students in U of M’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and it was wonderful!!!  It brought me right back to my childhood and dreams of being a Disney princess.  There honestly was not one character in the show that I didn’t like.  The audience immediately fell in love with the quirky, adventurous mermaid Ariel (Halli Toland) and the charming Prince Eric (Trevor Carr).  And Sarah Lynn Marion rocked those crazy Ursula solos, with thunderous applause after each one!  Other noteworthy characters included Ariel’s best friend Flounder (Matthew Kemp), the “smart” seagull Scuttlle (Barrett Riggins), Ariel’s father King Triton (Jordan Samuels), Prince Eric’s guardian Grimsby (Elliot Styles), and the crustacean Sebastian (Liam Allen).

“Under the Sea” (Photo Credit: Peter Smith Photography)

 

The applauses were endless after numbers like Halli Toland’s beautiful solo of “Part of Your World”, the biggest number with dancing fish and even a giant stingray – “Under the Sea”, and Sarah Lynn Marion’s evil “Poor Unfortunate Souls”.  If I could see this show over and over again, I would!

The Little Mermaid can still be seen Saturday and Sunday April 15-16 at 2pm.  Tickets are on sale now: Reserved seating $26-$32 and Students $12 with ID.

Ticket information can be found at: http://tickets.music.umich.edu/single/eventDetail.aspx?p=3001

PREVIEW Dance Mix 2017 The Galaxy Edition

Sometimes you need to take a break from exam studying and paper deadlines. That’s where Dance Mix 2017 comes in!

Where: The Power Center (121 Fletcher St)

When: Tuesday, April 18th @ 7 PM

Cost: FREE with Passport to the Arts

Tickets are also on sale at the Mason Wall posting wall April 14th & 17th, 10-4pm

A quick list of all the groups performing:

  • EnCore
  • FunKtion
  • Impact Dance
  • RhythM Tap Ensemble
  • Cadence Modern Dance Company
  • Dance2XS University of Michigan
  • The Ballroom Dance Team at the University of Michigan
  • Michigan Izzat
  • Michigan Manzil
  • Outrage Dance Group
  • Salto Dance Company at the University of Michigan
  • Photonix
  • Revolution Chinese Yo-Yo

Here’s a link to the Facebook Event so you can put that you’re attending