REVIEW: Dance Mix 2017 The Galaxy Edition

What a night. I started walking over to the Power Center with my friend five minutes before the concert started to find a building packed with students. Before the first group took the stage, the organizers announced that this was the second sold-out concert in a row.

 

Some sold-out concerts don’t feel sold out. You can spot empty seats and the audience is tame. Not so for this young, rambunctious crowd that hooted and hollered names of friends in the dance groups all throughout the event. Between the energy of the audience and the students moving around on stage, the 2.5 hour event felt like taking a shot of espresso.

When things get hot and heavy on stage

First off, I have to apologize at not being able to keep track of the names of the groups. Every group that took the stage was incredibly talented in their own unique way. Alas, I did not have a program with me during the concert so I could not tell exactly which group was on stage at a particular time.

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t imagine it’s easy to fit a wide variety of student acts into one concert, but Dance Mix 17 pulled it off through smooth transitions between more traditional ballet (top left picture) and decidedly modern hip-hop (top right picture), as well as dancers that both to the melodies of ballads and rock songs alike.

One of the highlights of the group was Revolution and their stringless yo-yo performance. Countless students walked across the stage slinging their plastic yo-yo’s like divine beings levitating rocks. Those plastic yo-yo’s flew across the stage and around the slingers and every trick drew fresh cheers from the crowd. Even the tricks that failed still felt like successes, and I was definitely not the only one entranced by the performance.

 

Later, Photonix performed in the dark with glow sticks, producing images like the one you see in the header photo of this blog. Towards the end of the performance, they unleashed hundreds of mini glow sticks into the audience.
The audience being composed almost entirely of students, everyone went wild.

Another highlight of the night was a Bollywood rendition of Top Gun (by Michigan Manzil I think). The story was a cliche telling of a young fighter pilot who loses his friend in a fight, but this isn’t a Hollywood film and the performance was one of the standouts of the second half of the night.

The Bollywood-esque peformance went through half a dozen wardrobe changes without a hitch, in addition to props and set pieces, and above all it was entertaining as heck.

Rounding out the rest of the night were performances by EnCore (picture below), Outrage, and FunKtion again.

I’m incredibly glad I was able to attend this event, and if you’re reading this blog and didn’t go this year, you NEED to attend next year.

REVIEW: G-Fest

With an almost full lower level at the Power Center for the Performing Arts, student performance groups across Michigan pulled together October 18 for G-Fest, a 2-hour extravaganza of singing, dancing, comedy, slam poetry, percussion and glow-stick dancing. Each act brought something fresh and new to the 5th Annual G-Fest. Alumni G-Men from the inaugural show had the honors of opening this one. Not only were the acts solidly executed, but the ever quirky, comical G-Men introducing them kept the show’s momentum running strong throughout the entire program. Personal favorite included when two G-Men made dubstep with their mouths, including dubbing the beats to Snoop Dogg’s “Drop it Likes it Hot” and Ginuwine’s “Pony.” I think this was when the crowd cheered the loudest the whole time, although each group received a respectable amount of loud, rambunctious applause, and for good reason.

The G-Mens opening number
The G-Men's opening number

The Harmonettes killed it in black pumps and blue jeans.
The Harmonettes killed it in black pumps and blue jeans.

I found myself feeling like I was an extra cast member in Pitch Perfect when the G-Men and Harmonettes sang in harmony and pitch together. The G-Men pulled off a catchy Spanish number to open the show, followed by a mash-up of Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe” and Adele’s “Skyfall.” Pure ear candy. In the second part of the show, the self-proclaimed always classy, sometimes sassy Harmonettes brought their girl power with Little Mix’s “Wings,” my favorite number from their set. To quote the movie, both groups were “aca-awesome.”

Asante looks dapper in his top hat and jacket.
Asante looks dapper in his top hat and white jacket.

Asante, the only solo act on the bill, sang two original compositions at the piano. He described the process of creating his own music by visualizing different keys as different colors and putting it all together. His two pieces complemented each other perfectly well, and had the venue feeling like a small intimate jazz club. As a senior in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, he was one of my favorite acts for his ability to silence and mesmerize the crowd with his smooth voices and even smoother piano playing. He’s got showmanship down, looking and sounding mighty classy. I loved every minute of it.

The Michigan Raas Team
The Michigan Raas Team
Photonixs eye candy
Photonix's eye candy

The first dance group, Michigan Raas Team, performed to traditional Indian music wearing traditional Indian costumes. Their fluid movements had me wanting to get up and dance too, if I knew how to dance like that. G-Fest ended with Photonix, a group that dances with glow sticks to create visual art with trippy trance music in the background. It takes a whole lot of talent to wave glow sticks up and down to create something magical, and Photonix’s did just that in this out-of-this-world finale.

Grooves jamming out on trash cans
Groove's jamming out on trash cans

Before intermission, Groove beat their trashcans and quad drums made of plastic bins to perform several numbers of carefully crafted percussion numbers. The intensity and speed at which these performers can go is remarkable, and I can only imagine how much time and practice they endure to get it just right. These guys nailed it, and the best part is all their instruments are random, common items one wouldn’t expect to find in a formal show. Groove’s ingenuity, coupled with their urban allure, made for a stylistic success to round out the first half.

ComCos improv players provided plenty to laugh about.
ComCo's improv players provided plenty to laugh about.

Not only did talent lie in the musicality of performances, but in comics and poets, too. The first half featured six ComCo. members, campus’s oldest improv comedy group, playing various games with audience participation. They pulled off one of comedy’s greatest exercises, telling a story with someone else’s hands behind them guiding the action. Another game had the game master control the flow of dialogue, interrupting a “mother/daughter” pair whenever he didn’t like what they were saying and making them redo the line in a different way. The best part about the players was the sheer improvisation–these guys can think fast on their feet and that makes it all the more enjoyable and entertaining. One of the highlights of the night for me was being able to laugh at the absurdity of the situations the players acted out.

Four members of the Slam Poetry Club read their poems on stage, giving the audience chills with their themes of growing up, being there for someone in tough times and a poem chronicling Adam and Eve’s experience in couple’s therapy. Each poet slammed really well, slowing and quickening their voices at the appropriate times and really speaking from the heart. It takes a lot of guts to speak like that in front of such a large audience, and these kids nailed it.

I couldn’t have asked for a better Friday night listening to and seeing all the great talent this campus has to offer. Each group shined, and it made me even prouder to be a Michigan Wolverine. Even though G-Fest was just a sampling of the many performance groups on campus, it accomplished its goal of entertaining attendees. Bravo, everyone, for your amazing performances.