Strong Auditorium came alive Friday night with the elegant and graceful moves of the UR Ballet Performance Group in their fall show “Out of the Blue.”
“Our shows are a lot of fun for our members, and they’re the culmination of an entire semester’s worth of work,” senior and BPG President Sarah Davis said in an email. “We really take pride in getting to share our work with our friends, families, and the Rochester community.”
The group, in its 19th year, provides a platform to practice and perform diverse forms of dance on campus.
Along with classical ballet, the group’s forté, , the dancers performed jazz, tap dance, acro, and contemporary pieces.
Freshman Regina Yu, whose choreography was influenced by her gymnastics background, mesmerized with her solo acro and jazz fusion.. Her backflips and pirouettes received cheers and applause from the audience.
Two of the solo jazz pieces were Lady Gaga’s rendition of “Orange Colored Sky,” performed by freshman Zoe Irving, and “Omen,” by sophomore and BPG Secretary Rebecca Lawrence.
“My solo was really fun to choreograph because it was a great way for me to express myself and explore my own range of movement,” Lawrence said.
She also choreographed a fusion of jazz and hip hop group dance, Major Lazor’s “Light It Up,” along with junior Jenna Duerr.
“Jenna is very good at coming up with formations and transitions which is something that I really struggle with,” Lawrence said. “It was fun to have someone with me who could strengthen my weaknesses.”
Lawrence performed in five dances and said that the most difficult part was facing the anxiety to perform in front of a huge audience while articulating the dance appropriately.
“You really want to make sure that you bring the right emotional quality and energy to each dance and that you are embodying the choreographer’s vision,” Lawrence said.
One of the main objectives of BPG is to keep classical ballet alive on campus.
Its members achieved that goal with three soulful features from Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet”—“Dance of the Capulets and Montagues,” “Merrymaking,” and “Dance of the Girls with the Lilies.”
“The fluidity in the ballet dancers’ moves and the flowing costumes made the evening enchanting,” said second year graduate student Kosha Dholakia, who watched a ballet performance for the first time that night.
The stars of the show were by far the second- to sixth-grade students from Francis Parker School No. 23 in Rochester who performed to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
These children are a part of BPG’s “Dare to Dance” outreach program.
“We want to get involved in the community and offer something positive,” senior and outreach coordinator Lauren Birnbaum said. “We love dance and there is no better way to pass on this love than to involve the community.”
“Dare to Dance” was established five years ago to work with kids in the Rochester community, mainly those from School 23. Every semester around five BPG members works with the children for six to eight weeks, meeting once a week after school.
“It’s so much fun and incredibly rewarding,” Davis said. “The families at School 23 are so appreciative of the work we do.”
Every semester, at the end of the program, these kids are given an opportunity to perform at BPG’s show.
Birnbaum has been managing this program for the last two years. She and other members involved serve on a volunteer basis.
“Many children participate multiple semesters in a row, and many siblings also will participate in the program when they are old enough,” Birnbaum said. “I hope the program continues for a long time.”