PREVIEW: In The Heights

This 2008 Broadway classic has found its way to University of Michigan’s campus! Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In The Heights follows the lives of a Hispanic-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City over the course of three days. MUSKET is bringing UM student talent to this masterpiece this weekend!

Catch this production at the Power Center on March 16 and 17 at 8pm and March 19 at 2pm. Tickets ($7 for students and $13 for adults) can be purchased at or at MUTO.

REVIEW: Dancing Globally

A beautifully put together four number show, Dancing Globally made me feel connected to the raw emotions that its dancers put out on the stage. I have never seen a modern dance performance before, but now know I will be attending many in the future. I loved the show, from its choreography to costumes to lighting to music.

The first number, ‘Excerpts from KYR (1990), Anaphase (1993), and Mabul (1992)’, was an impactful piece in which the dancers began wearing business attire, and they gradually tore off those garments – all but one dancer, who appeared to be stuck in some way. This dance was very intimate throughout, and especially towards the end as it had only two dancers left on stage. I thought this was an ideal introduction to the show because it was not hectic on stage, so I was able to take in the beginning of the show at calm pace.

The second number, ‘Vox (2018)’, was the number I enjoyed the most. I think this was because while there there was a lot going on with many dancers on-stage, the staging and choreography was well done so that you watch the intricate parts performance without being too overwhelmed.

‘fall(s) (2018)’ was the third number, one in which the dancers wore outfits with large pieces of vibrant fabric that hung off of their bodies, complementing the black backdrop that had huge, colorful flowers spread across it. The many colors and overload of movement was something that made this dance very hard to follow. While it was still aesthetically very pleasing, it seemed a bit more unkempt next to the other numbers.

The fourth number, ‘Minûtus Luminous (2018)’, was an interesting piece inspired by Jóse León Sánchez, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. The number is intended to be “a song to those families and communities who have had to live with misfortune.”* With complex staging and large structures that mimicked the inside of a dreary building, likely a jail, it was a finishing number with palpable heart and storytelling.

While I still remain undereducated on modern dance, seeing this performance sparked an interest in me that I didn’t know existed. The dancers’ hard work and pure emotions were pulsating off of the stage, and I found myself caught up in their brilliant performance. Another major kudos would be the lighting: each number had different lighting that highlighted and intensified the emotion. I’m sure anyone who saw Dancing Globally can attest that it was bursting with talent and passion.

*from the playbook of Dancing Globally, said by choreographer Sandra Torijano

Photos by Kirk Donaldson

PREVIEW: Dancing Globally

This Saturday I’ll go to a theater that that holds more than a thousand people and watch some of the talented students from the Dance Department, who I’ve never seen perform before. Having never been exposed to modern dance, I know seeing Dancing Globally is a promising first modern dance program to attend because of my friend who is in it, who has been practicing tirelessly.
Dancing Globally, already shown Thursday February 1st and Friday February 2nd, will be shown Saturday February 3rd at 8PM and Sunday February 4th at 2PM at the Power Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased for a variety of prices here.

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.

PREVIEW: FLUX by Cadence Dance Company

The poster for Cadence Dance Company’s winter show, FLUX, lists three definitions of its title.

First, “the action or process of flowing or flowing out.”

Second, “continuous change.”

And third, “a contemporary dance performance.”

The third definition is obviously not the dictionary one, but nevertheless it fits with the other two. Contemporary dance is a study in flow, in change and experimentation.

The title not only fits perfectly, it makes me excited to see what Cadence has in store.

The first time I saw Cadence Dance Company was at Michigan’s Best Dance Crew, where they placed third. At a competition mostly dominated by hip-hop crews, Cadence’s performance was an intriguing change of pace.

Now, Cadence will put on a full-length performance showcasing their own choreography and style. A contemporary, lyrical and modern company, Cadence “presents a balance between the rigors of studies and freedom of movement,” according to their website.

FLUX by Cadence Dance Company will also feature guest performances by other student groups, including hip-hop crews FunKtion and EnCore, tap dance troupe RhythM Tap Ensemble and a cappella ensemble The Friars. The show is on Saturday, January 20 at 7 PM at the Power Center. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for adults at the door, or free with a Passport to the Arts.

REVIEW: The Nutcracker – Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre

It’s always rather conflicting when attempting to indulge in the holiday spirit during the everlasting finals season. Time spent seeking out the festive spirit typically leaves one in guilt for time loss from studying. However, The Nutcracker was being performed on campus so this would be exempt! There were two different groups performing The Nutcracker on campus. So, I chose to see the Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre perform at the Power Center.

The opening scene takes place in the Stahlbaum Home on Christmas Eve. From the beginning, I noted that the acoustics could have been better given that they would need to compensate for not having a live orchestra pit. However during Act I, Scene I, I undoubtedly still felt the Christmas festivity transcending from an evening spent with gifts, sweets, and dancing around the Christmas tree. Unaware of the Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre and all of its members, I was utterly pleased to see so many young performers on stage. From ages perhaps as low as five years old to older teens, it was a sight to see so many young performers expressing themselves through theatre and dance.

Act I, Scene III, The Land of Snow, was a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. To my surprise, they had fake snow falling onto the stage! From the snowflake-like blue lighting and  background to the complementing snow fairy outfits and dances, this scene was aesthetically pleasing and beautifully accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s “Scene in the Pine Forest” and “Waltz of the Snowflakes.”

Act II: The Kingdom of Sweets, carries the bulk of the story and most rousing parts. During this, Clara and her newly gifted nutcracker arrive at his Palace high atop Sugar Mountain in the Kingdom of Sweets. (How could we not be the least bit of enlivened by a scene held in a place called The Kingdom of Sweets?) This scene is composed of several intensive and rather intimate waltzes that represent various ethnicities. To begin is Chocolate: a high-spirited Spanish dance. Next is the Arabian Coffee, a sultry, languid dance. Arguably, the most detailed and personal dances of them all with slow, thoughtful movements in sync with their partner. Coffee was the most expressive dance where the audience had the chance to analyze each intentional movement according to the music. In all fairness though, Coffee is the lengthiest and has the slowest tempo of all six dances, so this impression may be biased. Following Coffee was a much more upbeat, high-pitched lively and athletic Chinese inspired dance called Tea. To trump Tea’s lively nature, Trepak outperforms its predecessor with a much faster-paced beat in light of a Russian folk dance that is filled with bravura. To close out the divertissements, we are left with Marzipan, which in contrast, is a pas-de-trois, performed by three people — all followed by an appearance by Mother Ginger and her beloved Sugar Plums.

The curtains begin to close as Clara’s wondrous dream begins to fade while she finds herself back at home with only memories of a magical night. Upon the curtains closing, we are left with a matched feeling in comparison to the characters as we have followed along on their adventurous journey overnight and also come to a silent, peaceful close. Even in a wicked time known as “Finals Season,” time should be allotted for the holiday classic, The Nutcracker.