Although I appreciate the multiple forms of art, I have not attended many dance shows in the past. My prior dance experience, consisting of tap lessons at three years old and ballet at eight, hadn’t given me very memorable impressions of dance as an art form. However, my experience as an audience member of PUSH Physical Theatre gave me an entirely fresh perspective on how dance can serve as a telling narrative that demands an equal amount of physical and emotional strength. The dancers possessed the capability to convey characters that were not only part of narratives, but also ones that the audience could identify with.

Darren and Heather Stevenson, who founded PUSH in Rochester in2000, made a point to impose questions about how members of society treat each other as a whole. Darren, who introduced each piece beforehand, commented that the group aimed to create pieces that “[came] out of our own lives.” One instance of this was “Strangers,” which featured a married couple moving through the routine of their day yet never maintaining eye contact with each other. Each person was so preoccupied with their own activities, from typing on a keyboard at work to mindlessly eating at home, that the other person was invisible to them. The dancers’ connection was established through interacting with each other as if the other was a piece of furniture, such as a stool, to literally sit on. This demonstration of physical strength was impressive but struck a melancholy chord. It made me consider the effects of “forgetting” about other people despite being around them every day.

Another emotionally potent piece, “The Visit,” involved the portrayal of a resident with Parkinson’s Disease in a nursing home. The dancer captured the physical symptoms of the illness well, with excessive shaking and stiff movement, yet executed this in a very fluid, coherent way. Although the resident attempted to interact with others, they shut her out. The isolation and loneliness that resulted was difficult to watch, but this offered insight into what often happens to elderly people suffering from debilitating conditions. Darren spoke of “idolizing youth,” and how this mindset can result in neglecting the opportunity to learn from older, wiser perspective.

What was truly most impressive, however, was PUSH’s mission to express unity among all human beings. Their sheer physical dependence on each other throughout each of their routines supported this and was entertaining, yet provocative, to watch. “There was definitely a narrative to follow,” commented senior Brittany Sherman, president of UR’s Radiance Dance Theatre. “[…]and they really pushed the boundaries of dance.” Those are boundaries all art forms should cross – statements of individual expression transformed into larger ideas that are important on both personal and global levels. Encore, PUSH, encore. 

Kibler is a  member of 

the class of  2017.


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