REVIEW: Callisto presented by Pure Dance

A photo of Pure Dance from its Facebook page

Every dance show I’ve seen at Michigan has had its own flavor. In Pure Dance’s winter show, Callisto, there were many flavors spread throughout in a performance that was at times entertaining and at times lacked cohesion.

Pure performed eight dances and a finale, alternating between jazz and contemporary numbers with seven guest performers: a cappella group 58 Greene, contemporary company Ambiance, alternative percussion outfit Groove, jazz ensemble Blue Bop Jazz, hip-hop crew Flowdom, contemporary ballet company Salto and the ballroom dance club. All of the guest performances were good on their own, but there were too many of them for the number of dances Pure performed; it felt like the guests were onstage for a longer amount of time than the company itself. Blue Bop Jazz even opened the second half, taking the spotlight off the show’s supposed headliner.

Because of the abruptness of transitions between so many different types of performances, the show never really built up a rhythm. Still, it had its moments. I really enjoyed “Under Pressure” — set to the song by Queen and David Bowie — which Pure smartly placed toward the end of its program to ensure it was remembered. The choreography, by Libby Owen, was smart and went well with the music.

Overall, Pure’s contemporary pieces were stronger than the jazz ones, with “Under Pressure” as the exception. The jazz numbers seemed at times out of sync, but they got stronger as the show went on.

Pure did do some innovative things with lighting, staging and choreography. They frequently created a silhouette-like effect with the lighting, turning themselves into shadows dancing across a colorful backdrop. In the number “Elastic,” Pure walked out to flashing white lights, as if cameras were flashing as they strutted across the stage. They wore high-heeled boots, still managing to complete turn sequences. I appreciated the artistic risk they took in the piece, and it’s a risk that paid off. They also utilized lifts to good effect several times.

Overall, though, I wished I’d had time to truly settle in with Pure rather than seeing them constantly alternate with a litany of guest groups. In particular, Ambiance performed a contemporary number that I thought outshined the ones that came before and after.

Callisto had a lot of potential, and Pure Dance did a lot of cool and innovative things I haven’t seen in other student-run dance shows. However, the organization of the show ultimately undersold Pure’s talents and I wish I had been able to see more from them.

Aria Gerson

Aria Gerson is a junior majoring in political science with minors in history and writing. Outside of ArtSeen, she covers football for the Michigan Daily and loves sports, trivia and indie music. On any given day, you can find her at Starbucks, watching The Bachelor or crying about Little Women. A former theatre kid, she has been known to randomly burst into song in public. You can find her on Twitter @aria_gerson.

One thought to “REVIEW: Callisto presented by Pure Dance”

  1. I attended the Pure Dance show and I couldn’t disagree more! The abundance of performances between dances was a fantastic representation of the diverse talent present in the university’s student body. I think Pure dance was brave to share the stage with so many incredibly talented performers and still be able to exhibit their own passion so beautifully. Limiting their show to fall into one single “rhythm” would have under-displayed the talent these dancers are able to showcase. It’s a shame that a representative of the Arts of Michigan was unable to step back from preconceived ideas of what a performance should look like and recognize a novel and beautiful production put on from within our very own student body. Bravo Pure Dance.

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