The show opened with the dark, intense piece Between Strangers by associate professor of dance Janice Roberts. The work explores how we often don't see others for who they are, and how life is so fast that we get lost inside of it, Roberts said. Dancers seemed both lost and hidden as they moved in and out of shadows in the dim lighting, beginning the piece with a very internal focus. Eventually, the dancers began to move together in unison with movements that conveyed deeply personal, yet universal struggles to relate to the world.
Tarantella by Jake Fitzpatrick 07 was a narrative work that used a very basic and primal movement vocabulary to create what Fitzpatrick called an atmosphere of nature and unsafety. The dance related the story of a woman bit by a spider and the ensuing battle against the heartlessness of nature, which eventually triumphs in her death.
A stark contrast to this dark intensity was provided by Voicing. The piece explored, through a recorded sound score, the voicescapes in nature and in daily life at St. Olaf. Dancers of the Improvisation Ensemble entered, moving through the audience and asking, Are you listening? Can you hear me? On stage, their brightly colored costumes and the towering sculptures of Lewis Colburn 05 contributed to a chaotic visual exploration of hearing and listening.
The first half of the program closed with a captivating solo, Excerpt from the Deep Field, performed by assistant professor of dance Heather Klopchin. Klopchins clarity of focus drew the audience into the physical intensity of the piece, which was made possible by a St. Olaf Summer Grant for Scholarly and Artistic Activity. The movement was a fluid combination of ethnic and modern dance idioms, which Klopchin blended artfully through precise attention to the minute movements of her fingers and feet as well as her arms and legs.
The programs second half opened with another piece about relationships and identity, this time created by guest artist KT Niehoff. In conceal | reveal, stark white side lighting and simple corporate costumes, as well as the dancers serious expressions, contributed to a cold and distant tone. The acrobatic partner work was performed without emotion, as if to reflect the contrivance of emotionally shallow personal interactions.
Niehoffs intensive rehearsal session with the cast of the piece in early March set the groundwork for this performance, which was honed in further rehearsal under Klopchins direction. Niehoffs Seattle company, Lingo dancetheater, will be incorporating the choreography set on St. Olafs dancers into the larger work "Relatively Real," premiering at "On the Boards" in Seattle this week.
Following "conceal|reveal," alumna Kate Bronson 04 presented You Are Her piece also addressed contrived identities in modern culture. In this case, the four dancers represented different female caricatures the strong independent woman, the floozy, the whore and the innocent young woman searching for her place. Emphasizing the ludicrous clichés of femininity, Bronson elevated the struggle of the innocent woman, danced by Brittany Shrimpton 07, to emotional and physical exhaustion from being pushed and pulled by the expectations of society.
Featured senior dance major Emily Wiedenhoeft performed Dawn, a self-choreographed solo. Her sister Holly Wiedenhoeft 08 accompanied her on viola with Concerto #1 by J.B. Accolay. The playful rapport between sisters ended when Emily finally snatched Hollys bow; Holly finished the last notes of the song with defiant pizzicato as the spotlight illuminating the duo winked out.
In a complete shift of genre, the concert closed with The Fall of the House of Usher, a jazz work choreographed by Klopchin. The piece was able to combine certain aspects of choreography distinct to modern dance with jazz technique which resulted in a unique and energized piece, performer Angie Weber 07 said. This athletic work elevated jazz dance beyond its common music video image to integrate it into the artistry of the highly eclectic and engaging Companydance Spring Concert 2005.