It is my favorite time of the year: Dance BFA Show Season! The pinnacle of the dance degree and the one thing every undergraduate student looks forward to is their Senior Thesis. This is made up of a solo and group piece (mostly made up of other undergraduate dance students, dance team members, or even theater students) choreographed and directed by each graduating senior. It is the one time students get the freedom and opportunity to create their own works with the mentorship of any of the dance professors. Needless to say, it is a very exciting three nights of shows that will make you want to come all three nights if you can get the tickets…they sell out usually an hour before the show.
This was the first show of the year, with the four culminating seniors, Anabelle Chalmers, Katherine Kiessling, Lauren Roebuck, and Mia Rubenstein, presenting a wildly diverse show. Chalmers’ works were heavily focused on the interpersonal relationships between the dancers on stage. A highlight of her group work, I Hope We Can Resurface, was the duet with Rachel Dunklee and Kate Mitchell (both third years). Up until their duet, the piece utilized large groups of people on stage, both existing in parallel with each other and in congruence; it isn’t until this duet that we (the audience) catch a breath while strictly paying attention to the two communicate corporally–not to mention the brilliant lighting switch when the two come to focus. The dynamics both of the girls bring were drastically different but worked so well in congruence with one another. Kate was fluid and focused on her upper body, while Rachel found moments of sharpness and dedicated much focus to her lower body.
Kiessling’s works flowed into one another, unlike any of the other dances. It started with her group work, which was reminiscent of a nightclub, with moments before, during, and after; there was even a section that focused on the time one spends in the bathroom at the club. Lighting was essential for this piece, big shoutout to Robert Farr-Jones for lighting this piece and making it come to life. Kiessling also used a projector with engaging geometric visuals that faded in and out during the piece, working exceptionally well with the lighting on the screen and stage. At one point, Katherine joins the dancers on stage and grabs all of the attention, so much so that at one point, she dances in the center of the stage as the rest of her large cast surrounds the edges of the stage, staring at her. It was extraordinarily voyeuristic and meta. The audience watched the dancers as the dancers watched Katherine.
Roebuck’s works were some of the most entertaining of the night and definitely used more theater skills than the other pieces. Her group work, She Cooks as Good as She Looks, was based on the film The Stepford Wives and comprised of four “couples” representing the stereotypical 50s working man and the corresponding stay-at-home housewife. The dancing was heavily influenced by Roebuck’s training and love for Hip Hop (she is in the on-campus Hip Hop club 2XS along with many of the dancers in the piece). Throughout the piece, the “women” slowly started to revolt against their counterparts, until the morbid ending of them killing the men…Whether this is the solution to sexism or not (I kid), it made for a dramatic and polarizing ending.
Lastly, Rubenstein’s works were very ethereal and really played with the juxtaposition of the beauty and ugliness of human nature. Her solo and group work costumes were all white, and two large white sheets were accompanying her group. I thought the sheets were exciting ways of concealing bodies as well as giving bodies a new shape that molded to the sheet. My favorite part of the group work was when the lights went from yellow/white to a drastic switch to red. During this section, the dancers moved together synchronously through intensive and athletic movement, a motif of all of Rubenstein’s work. Mia may be smaller in stature, but she knows how to take up space on a large, empty stage. I thought her solo was beautifully crafted and utilized the stage in its entirety, which is not only exhausting but very challenging to do. Overall a very captivating dancer.
I will be back to write again about the next BFA show, Tales From Our Roots, which I am also very excited about. I recommend coming to one of the nights: November 30 through December 2 at 8:00 PM at the dance building. I will never stop advocating for dance, so trust me when I tell you: You do not want to miss these shows!