Ballet Performance Group (BPG) put on their 15th anniversary show, “Our Story,” to a packed audience in Strong Auditorium on Friday, Nov. 11. The most notable aspect of the show was its wide mix of music — with fun, upbeat pop songs, down-tempo, lovelorn songs and, surprisingly, more than one dubstep remix, this was anything but a stagnant performance.
The show started out with a student-created video celebrating the growth of the group in terms of members and technique.
The mood quickly changed, however, with the first performance being one of the strongest and most intense of the performance. The choreography was to a dubstep remix of Imogen Heap’s “Canvas,” and the way the dancers moved — with fluidity intermixed with jerking motions — was a powerful draw into the show. The dancers moved together much like a machine, with oiled parts working in synchrony, which fit the general tones of the wub-heavy song.
The next dance was a tap duet by sophomores Marissa Abbott and Sydney Robinson to Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope.” It was particularly interesting to see students take the initiative to choreograph a dance to the sounds of an artist who had just recently performed here on campus.
BPG also made sure to hold true to their roots by putting on a few routines in classical ballet style — even featuring a few boys — that all presented excellent form and synchrony.
In “Love Lost” by The Temper Trap, the stage was covered with dancers. Even though this dance was one of their largest in terms of number of dancers, all of them seemed to move together in one fluid motion — their mid-dance “fall” to the ground was a visually stunning device — while still emanating expressive emotion.
While many of the group’s dances were originals, “Turning Tables” was an encore from BPG’s Diversity of Dance show from Meliora Weekend. The dance has undergone solid improvements since then, and the synchrony of the dancers’ movements was nearly perfect this past weekend, making for a more highly-polished rendition than the one from a month ago. This number ended with a stunning tableau of the dancers, costumed in wispy gray dresses, each holding different poses as the lights slowly faded for the next act.
BPG took this show not only as a chance to pay tribute to the many dance styles they have covered in their 15 years, but also as an opportunity to showcase their transition toward becoming a philanthropic group. They are now involved in sponsoring a local dance program, Dare to Dance. During their sponsorship, the group choreographed a dance for about 20 kids aged seven – 15 and gave them a chance to glow on Friday night, literally. The dance, to “Rock Your Body,” began with complete darkness except for the glow sticks being swung around on stage, and then opened up into a routine that featured synchronized group choreography and solo steps. It was heartwarming to see such a passion for dance in people so young and also to see such skill — there was one little girl who positively rocked it on stage, with great technical form and coordination for someone her age.
BPG’s performance of “Love the Way You Lie Part Two” by Rihanna was one of the highlights of the show. The spotlight of the dance was a duo between senior Robert Valdovinos and junior Alaina Sawyer, who performed an impassioned interpretation of the dance. Valdovinos showed himself in this and other dances to be a very technically skilled ballet dancer, with tight form and steady lifts. He is a valuable asset as a male lead, and BPG has certainly taken advantage of the extra choreographing leeway he brings in as a capable male dancer.
Seniors Emily Hart and Shiv Rambarran were another powerful duo who performed in “Our Story” with their number to “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” Both dancers, especially Hart, showed spectacular confidence and fun, which was fitting for the tone of the song.
The pair walked onstage wearing shorts and big nerdy glasses and jackets, but the jackets quickly came off as the two began to jam out. The carefree mood of this dance was continued into a tap dance choreographed to “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson and a modern dance to “King of Anything” by Sarah Bareilles.
The show closed with visually strong performances of a dubstep remix of “Raise Your Weapon” by Deadmau5 and “Wind It Up” by Gwen Stefani. “Raise Your Weapon” had quite a powerful and intense vibe to it that made the act feel as if it really could continue for longer than it did while maintaining the same level of intensity and character.
Both performances had some pretty unorthadox costuming — an all-black wardrobe complete with blindfolds for the Deadmau5 number, and striped tights and puffy blue tutus, perfect for a Gwen Stefani song.
The show swayed from mood-to-mood throughout, oscillating between intense highs and lows. Still, the dancers did an excellent job of bringing the crowd from one extremity to the next,w so nothing seemed out of place. Even as BPG had dancers of all experience and skill levels up on the Strong Auditorium stage, they all shared a common element: the pure enjoyment of dance.
Holland is a member of the class of 2014.