Ballet Performance Group (BPG)’s performance on Friday, April 20 in Strong Auditorium for an audience of about 470 at their spring show “…So We Dance: a BPG Production,” was so much more than tutus and dainty slippers — although the group had their fair share of that too.
The show featured guest performances by the UR YellowJackets and second and third graders from Francis Park School 23 in Rochester. The children are part of the Dare to Dance Program, an afterschool program BPG runs which was spearheaded this year by sophomore Sydney Robinson. Overall, the show was gracefully captivating as well as innovative and unique.
“I think the performance went well,” President of BPG and senior Laura Chess said. “As president, I have to say that, but I very much believe it.”
The show kicked off with a video featuring BPG’s seniors in which they spoke of their love for the group and their wide range of dance backgrounds. Although it was a little hard to hear at certain points, it was rather sweet and truly captured the dancers’ devotion and connection to BPG.
The first dance, “Touch,” performed to “Touch” by Natasha Bedingfield and choreographed by senior Emily Hart, started the show with a blast of energy as over 40 BPG members made their way onstage from all different directions.
Given the amount of dancers in this number, the allure of the performance could have easily been lost to sheer volume, but this scenario fortunately did not come to fruition and all of the dancers were cleanly incorporated into the performance.
The rest of the first act was equally enthralling, from “Contemporary Coolin’,” danced to a mash-up of various artists and performed and choreographed by sophomores Alyson Manning and Sydney Robinson, to “Rondeau,” a classical piece, choreographed by Pamela Wilkens-White, one of BPG’s advisors who choreographs and teaches BPG’s classical performances. In the former dance, which combined a number of different styles, the sheer brilliance of the number was evident in both the dancers’ emotions as well as their choreography. The initial transition between musical genres was a tad jarring, but after the initial shock it was easier to take in.
“Rondeau,” which was accompanied by live music performed by a quartet made up of Eastman School of Music students sophomore Matthew Cox on viola, senior Kathy Crabtree and sophomore Gina DiCarlo on violin and sophomore Ben Fried on cello, made ballet look easy and simultaneously embodied joy and perfection. There was a lot of cohesion between the different dancers and an interesting contrast between the traditional music and costumes, which had a more modern feel.
BPG “aims to provide an outlet for individuals who seek to learn and perform all styles of dance while encouraging an awareness and appreciation of classical ballet,” according to their page on the Campus Club Connection. They use ballet as a foundation for all of the other styles of dance they perform, which include jazz, modern, swing, lyrical and tap, among others.
“BPG is a fun, welcoming environment,” Chess explained. “Some of the talent in this group simply blows me away, and I feel privileged to be a part of it.”
The YellowJackets began the second act with a smattering of vocal numbers which culminated in a charming, as well as entertaining, Disney medley that consisted of songs such as “Let’s Get Down to Business” and “A Whole New World.” The act continued with another guest performance by the students from School 23, who Chess affectionately described as “adorable little nuggets,” who danced to “Hello” by Dragonette. The number was overwhelmingly sweet and the dancers gave off a feeling of pure joy and excitement.
The highlight of the show was, by far, “Daft Like Jack,” a pirate-themed number choreographed and performed by senior Natalie Peterman and danced to “Drink Up Me Hearties, Yo Ho” by Hans Zimmer. Peterman’s movements were crisp and practiced and the performance combined elements of humor and drama. The number was captivating throughout and ended as Peterman jumped offstage into the arms of a fellow dancer, making a unique use of props by incorporating a sword into the movements.
One of the other dances that stood out the most was “Night Shift,” an a cappella tap piece choreographed by sophomore Marissa Abbott. The number, although devoid of music, was still made aurally alluring through the rhythmic use of brooms in addition to the dancer’s shoes, as well as shouted pronouncements such as “I’d tap that!” The piece was highly creative and the stories of the individual dancers were evident throughout.
BPG is made up of dancers of a wide variety of skill levels, and what some of the newer dancers may have lacked in experience was more than made up for by their more practiced peers. The show, bursting with spirit, enthusiasm and diversity in its choreography, musical choices and use of props and video, can only be characterized as a jubilant, enchanting performance.
Goldin is a member of the class of 2013.