Review: Drexel Dance Ensemble’s Change of Pace


by Angelica Spilis for The Dance Journal

Drexel University’s Department of the Performing Arts presented Drexel Dance Ensemble’s spring concert entitled Change of Pace.  Students participating in the university ensemble are given the opportunity to explore their artistry through working with professional choreographers, both faculty and guests artists, as well as a selection of student choreographers.

A total of eleven dance works comprised this concert, here are but a few highlights…

Un Torrent’d Emotions, choreographed by student Nicole DeRoux, opened the show with a bright blue backdrop illuminating the stage as the group of dancers performed sharp and jazz-like movements. The juxtaposition of the dancers’ bodies in stark contrast to the backdrop made each movement and line appear more prominent. The dancers’ use of arm work contrasted to what was happening with their feet, creating the effect of trying to do two things at once.

Unbroken Purpose, choreographed by Theresa Schweingruber, began with fast paced cello music as the dancers rushed, raced and charged on and off the stage. The pace of the piece continually shifted, adding brevity and spontaneity leaving one to wonder what would happen next.

The piece entitled Fragment/fracture (reprise) Response to Jessi Krimes deus ex machine, choreographed by faculty member Tania Issac, was literally a dancing piece of artwork.  A large broken picture frame hanging from the middle of the stage provided the backdrop as the dancers moved both on stage and through the audience. Utilizing live music by by Daniel Pearlman and Jennifer Zhou, the piece created the impression of artwork coming to life within the context of the entire theater being transformed in to an art museum. There was a significant amount of repetition of similar phrases with subtle alterations of levels, space, time and speed.

Unsteady, choreographed by student Alli Cardamone, was, well simply put, a piece about feeling unsteady. Throughout the piece, dancers, Brittani Bacchi, Romina Burger, Courtney Carey, Michaela Feeney, Olivia Guerrasio, Melissa Mabasa, Adriana Pillot and Gina Quinlan are falling and rebounding, and trying to catch their balance. They used each others bodies to try to find their center and balance, ultimately depending on someone to catch them before they fell.  Since this piece consisted of many “trust falls”, it was exciting to watch because at times it looked like someone was going to actually fall, only to be swept off of their feet just in time by another dancer. The end of this piece was incredibly powerful, as a single dancer remained standing at the edge of the stage rocking back and forth as the lights went out, leaving the audience to wonder if the dancer would fall or be saved.

The words “the detail of the pattern is movement” was a great explicative for the piece entitled, We Wouldn’t Want the Moon to Fly Away, . choreographed by faculty member, Jennifer Morley.  Its truth lay in the elaborate details of the elements of this piece – the music, movement and video projections. The piece commenced with a video of a drawing accompanied by a young child saying “open, open, open” in an excited manner, as if reading from a children’s book. A series of instructions intertwined with in the musical score gave the dancers directions to follow, mimicking social dance lesson.

A second video projected onto the screen showing a strawberry and a moon. The child-like image was very appealing and brought to life the inner workings of a child’s imagination. Next, there appeared a beautifully lite starry sky, providing the backdrop for the dancers who began to move slowly in the space, as if they were in outer space. The movement looked like gravity was pulling them towards something, leaving one dancer on stage as the lights slowly faded out.

As the performance concluded, I thought to myself, I wouldn’t want the moon to fly away either.

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