By Kristen Gillette for The Dance Journal
Photos by Bill Hebert
This review is part of the Dance Journal’s Student Author Program. Kristen studies journalism at Temple University and has written for a wide variety of publications, including Philly2Night.com, two.one.five. Magazine, and Cred Magazine, working to expand her knowledge of music and the arts. Other publications she’s interned for include Technically Philly and MetroKids Magazine. After taking dance lessons as a child, Kristen returned to ballet as an adult and blogs about her experience at Adultballerinaproject.com.
Hold Me To This, Philadelphia choreographers Danielle Greene, Meredith Steinberg and Becca Weber’s MFA Thesis concert premiered Friday, February 23rd in Temple University’s Conwell Theater. Each presented a roughly 30-minute work showcasing their individual style. Each piece was connected by how it explored human relationships as shown through the way dancers interacted through the choreography.
Greene’s Show Me Inside explored the ideas between dreams and real life. The piece began with red vines of light covering the stage and the dancers, which slowly faded to dull, white lighting covering the entire stage. The piece featured dancers Megan Mizanty, Rori Smith, Steinberg, Weber, and Green herself. The costumes, designed by Patricia Dominguez, helped discern this dreamlike state. The dancers wore dress shirts and dresses with asymmetrical sleeves with lacy, sometimes brightly-accented leggings. Green’s choreography was often surreal, fitting with her theme. One of the most repeated phrases was the way the dancers explored each other using their heads in a “sniffing” movement. The piece reached its culminating point when two dancers remained on the stage as one explored the other in an upright position and slowly stomped her foot and gradually moved her arms. She broke free as she stepped away from her and is left alone as the other girl runs away.
Corporecord, choreographed by Weber, began with fog and four, dull, yellowed incandescent light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. As the lights turned on, Weber appeared, twitching her head back and forth. The lights dimmed off, and then back on as another dancer appeared. And again. This dancer sat on the floor and eerily stared into the audience with a creepy grin upon her face. Besides Weber, the piece also featured Alison Liney, Megan Quinn, and Hedy Wyland. Set to a soundscape of eerie chiming, creepy techno, keyboards clacking, and hearts beating. The dancers voiced their memories from playful—such as one recalling the way her sister complaining about her homework and mocking her—while others were troubling. One dancer voicing how her motion indicated what it was like the first time she got high. Portions of the choreography from the first segment appear throughout the piece—at one point, two of the dancers stood facing each other, one grasping the others waist while the other held the other’s shoulder, leaning against each other. They traded the crazed smile (like the beginning) and scared glances between the two of them. As the piece ended, two of the dancers lie on the floor beside each other, while another lifted one dancer, cradling her as the light bulbs dimmed.
Dancers Greene, Katie Jasmin, Shailer Kern-Carruth and Rori Smith carried four stools out onto the stage, slamming them into the ground, as the final work, Girls Grew Out of the Ground by Steinberg, began. They moved them again, before glancing at each other and slamming them down in the back simultaneously. Here, they danced around the stools, taking turns pushing off the stools (as well as each other’s bodies) with their hands and jumping off the ground and hip bumping each other as well as the air. In another segment of the dance, the four dancers rolled on the floor, in unison, collapsing as they flung themselves forward, reaching forward, before rolling over again, and thrusting their hips off the floor. The most memorable part of Girls Grew Out of the Ground was when one of the dancers grabbed her stool and moved to the front and began to wave her arms and thrusting them together in a “screw you” motion as a lullaby version of “Can’t Always Get What You Want” played. Two of the girls joined her, standing on the floor, mirroring her. The last dancer stood on her stool in the back, and did the same. Eventually, they leave the girl at the front by herself again, returning to the back.
All of the pieces throughout the evening embodied their mission—Greene successfully portrayed a dream-like stage, Weber displayed how dancers embodied their recollection of memories, and Steinberg represented our need for interconnectedness with how her dancers interacted with each other.
Disclaimer: Kristen Gillette attends Temple University and writes for the same publication, thINKingDANCE.net as Becca Weber.