Louvre Performance Ensemble puts on consistently well-executed shows, usually with some sort of loose theme and striking dances. This semester’s show, “IMPACT,” performed on Saturday, Nov. 10 and Sunday, Nov. 11, had the beautiful dancing, but spent too much time on the theme.
In the show’s program, the executive board states that “a moment of impact may prove to be the catalyst for change or it may be the turn toward a downward spiral,” which is a beautiful concept and might have added depth to the show had it been handled with a subtler touch. Each dance was clearly meant to be about a significant moment in life, with numbers entitled “Success,” “Love,” “Loss” and “Growing Old,” among others. However, in trying to keep the theme consistent throughout the show with the use of sound effects and voice-over narrations, blackouts sometimes continued on for unreasonably long periods of time, making it easy to lose focus and detracting from the stunning numbers Louvre presented.
In the very beginning of the show, the audience had to sit through a series of sound effects that included a heartbeat, a ticking noise, footsteps, church bells, a piano, children playing, heavy breathing and more — all before the lights ever came up. It was an interesting choice at first, and while it did come full circle within the performance, linking the numbers to each other, it went on for so long that it became tiresome. Plus, even after the lights came up and the audience had something visual to focus on, there was still no dancing.
A spotlight would hit one girl, and then a voice-over (narrated by both members of Louvre and the UR community) would explain what their opinion of success was. These were actually fairly intriguing, in the context of the number, entitled “Success,” but by the time they were finished it was difficult to remember that this was a dance performance. This number was also one of their weaker ones — beautifully executed, but not necessarily containing the emotional punch that many of the others had. It was also a bit predictable, especially with the context of the final spoken line being “what would you do to get it?” The girls stepped over each other while fighting, clearly representing the stereotypical “dog-eat-dog” world of business. It wasn’t the most promising start, but the show recovered quickly.
All the other numbers were generally varying levels of extraordinary. “Addiction,” one of the star numbers of the evening, dealt cleverly with its topic by having each dancer perform with a purple loop of fabric. The manner they danced with these loops beautifully portrayed the idea of addiction, showing some of the girls wrapping themselves tighter in them, some fighting to get away, some dropping them but rushing back to them (a clear representation of relapse) and many struggling with them in general, but somehow getting forever more tangled — it was absolutely stunning to watch.
However, beating out “Addiction” as the most beautiful performance of the evening was “Growing Old.” It didn’t have the instant dramatic punch that others, like “Addiction” and “Loss,” did, but the subtlety made it all the more astounding. It began with a dancer in a rocking chair under a spotlight, looking through a photo album. The voice-over made it clear that the dance would deal with the more tragic issues of aging, such as losing memories and being treated differently, saying, “Everyone treats me like I’m not me anymore, but I’m here. I’m me.”
As the dancer looked through the photo album, different spotlights illuminated others acting out the “memories,” like playing with toys and talking with friends. They were little moments, but beautiful all the same — and one by one throughout the piece, the lights went out randomly, representing the loss of those memories to age. Louvre managed to create an emotional scene without dancing at all. In that moment, they were as much actresses as dancers.
The dancing was equally arresting. They would occasionally make sporadic movements, sway, lights would flash then dim, their limbs would shake and they would fall. It was a heartbreaking tragedy to experience and yet a true testament to human resilience. This phenomenal piece stole the show.
Louvre did make a few missteps in the structure of the show, placing their weakest number at the beginning and spending too much time on the “special effects” when they could have minimized this and let the dancing speak for itself, but it wasn’t enough to truly deter from the astonishing performance they put forth.
Once again, Louvre has managed to dumbfound the crowd with their talent for both dance and choreography. It seems impossible for any show they put forth to be anything but a success.
Howard is a member of the class of 2013.