Strong Auditorium was filled nearly to capacity this past Friday as students and parents flocked to see Ballet Performance Group’s spring showcase, entitled “Move.”
What is immediately obvious watching BPG is that the emphasis is on the performance, not just the ballet. It’s not, apparently, all-pink tutus and “Swan Lake,” as the first number immediately proved. Shadowed against a blue light, the opening number, choreographed by freshman Arielle Friedlander to the Chemical Brothers song “Let Forever Be,” kicked off with the silhouettes of the dancers forming boxes, which soon came apart as the members expanded across the stage. The back and forth across the floor was terrifically executed as dancers came into and out of the wings. Fluid, hip and impressive, the show was underway.
What came next was a series of short performances entitled “Fiesta de Bailes,” choreographed by Rochester citizen Pam Wilkens-White. It made me glad I had downed some caffeine earlier because it was helping keep me awake. There were high points, to be sure – I enjoyed the sultry, fierce tango piece, “Primavera Porteno,” although I was disappointed in the one smiling dancer. Smiling is terrific, but tango is a serious affair.
Remember earlier when I mentioned BPG is not all tutus and “Swan Lake?” Well, I was partially wrong. Because after the tango piece came – yes, you guessed it – tutus. That does nothing to detract from the dancing, of course, but it’s good to know tradition is alive. Oh, and two pieces later was a “Swan Lake” variation. The dancing for each piece, with seven pieces in all, was good, yes, and had several parts that, had I attempted them, would have ended in a trip to Strong Hospital. But for the dancers on the stage, I felt there could have been more: more boldness, more originality, more fire.
Just when I thought BPG had no spine, they came back in a big way with the amazing, intense, downright hot dance to Michael Buble’s “Fever.” Choreographed by senior Karyn Schmidt, “Fever” let the girls loose once again. I cannot think of a time I thought dance was better. Oh, and the part with the chairs, well, that was just frosting on the cake.
Things didn’t let up in the second act. It began with a great swing number choreographed to the Austin Powers theme song that brought in several guest performers. After this and the next number, a return to classical form done to “Gymnopedie,” came a classic rock medley dance that brought a whole new way of thinking about Guns n’ Roses and The Doors, among many others.
Another showstopper came next with “Walk of Shame,” choreographed by sophomore Julie Broadbent. If you aren’t familiar with the Walk of Shame, well, you haven’t experienced college. The piece was hilarious, solidly synchronized and the male guest performers did a terrific job.
I also really enjoyed the next number, “Trashin’ the Camp,” choreographed by Schmidt and freshman Lauren Sussman, as it turned into a tap number, which further proved BPG’s diverse talents and interests.
The next four acts were all choreographed to pop songs, including one to Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie,” only it unfortunately showed that the talents contained within Shakira’s hips and rump aren’t possessed by everyone.
Next came a number choreographed by senior Christina Bonvicino to “I’ll Be There For You,” the “Friends” theme song. But it was also appropriate, because, just like the episode “The One with Monica’s Thunder,” BPG’s own thunder got stolen by their guest performers, UR Bhangra.
BPG has done very well with synchronization, but watching UR Bhangra’s methodical, brilliant, perfectly in step performance demonstrated that BPG could still do better. Therefore, the next BPG number, “Carry on My Wayward Son,” choreographed by senior Taylor Coon, despite being as strong as any other average number, was put in Bhangra’s formidable shadow.
Yet just when it seemed like BPG might have run out, they brought forth the final number, the show’s title performance, “Move,” choreographed by freshman Libby Miga. It was perfect, in every sense of the word. Fierce, strong, showy – a perfect note to end on.
The lesson of BPG’s “Move,” then, is that the best choreographers are the girls themselves. Several numbers showed the pure thoughtfulness and creativity that each member seems to have. And anyone who can stand on their toes, well, they’ve got me impressed.
Brenneman is a member of the class of 2009.