To find the fine line between nitpicking and genuine criticism can be difficult. I say that because, at this year’s Rochester Revue, I left unfulfilled.
To be sure, the annual dinner-and-a-show and ‘admire how diverse UR is” plug pulled out some nice acts. And the cuisine part didn’t disappoint. But the show did.
The Revue is a study in how the little things contribute to overall quality. For instance, watching the opening act, Celtic, perform an Irish jig (leg flailing) would make you think, watching the only male’s dour expression, that dancing makes some Irish incredibly unhappy. How can I enjoy the show if one of the dancers clearly isn’t?
I can’t discount Ballet Performance Group ‘On Solid Air” isn’t a happy song to dance to, but they did fine. And the Filipino American Students’ Association did well with their stick thing it’s hard not to get excited from that. But I can fault plenty of others.
The Stingers, UR’s trombone ensemble, fell victim to the same problem. I know playing a brass instrument dominates the use of your face muscles, so smiling isn’t really possible but that doesn’t preclude showing enthusiasm. Not until the rendition of Dexys Midnight Runners’ ‘Come On Eileen” did they seem to enjoy being on stage.
Other groups had the enthusiasm but not the coordination, such as UR Raas. I don’t remember the last time I saw bowls used in dance, but considering the difficultly displayed in handling them, Raas should drop them in favor of, perhaps, nothing.
Indulgence had too much cheer by contrast more than one performer seemed to be having such a good time that each forgot how to dance.
Chinese Students Association brought back the fans in the most exciting routine this side of a Vornado sale at Bed, Bath ‘ Beyond. I know that we have to appreciate other cultures, and that the dance isn’t supposed to have a ton of movement, but I think there’s a reason this hasn’t caught on in the United States. And one guy got too fan-happy watch it, Mr. Red Fan.
Off Broadway on Campus performed a hit from ‘Jersey Boys,” but, come on guys, coordinate your snaps. What’s a Broadway song without proper snapping?
Sihir Bellydancing Ensemble performed, too. Not all of the ensemble members should have, though.
Strong Jugglers, the adorable jesters that they are, eventually got their act together, but coordination is unfortunately the only super-pivotal part of juggling. I lost count of how many times a pin dropped, but I enjoyed the Belle and Sebastian background music too much to care.
Japan Matsuri perhaps my favorite new group, for the record performed wonderfully overall, but not everyone seemed to have their parts down pat.
I feel like what I’m saying is I’m not nitpicking. We enjoy performers for their ability to do things we can’t without revealing the effort they go through, but that they obviously endure.
For instance, UR Bhangra. No one can deny the palpable excitement as they took the stage, but they’ve been at this for a while. Who doesn’t anticipate that dramatic drum crescendo and accompanying sidestep thing? It’s exciting! And well done.
By that standard, the other winner of the Revue (if I were to deem this a competition) would be Capoeira. The Brazilian dance-fighters premiered here for the first time and demonstrated what a group can aspire to. They had fun and showed enthusiasm all on the first go.
That and the spare ribs is all a fan can ask for.
Brenneman is a member of the class of 2009.