Dancescape brings live movement back to in-person audience

By Erica Quinones

The Washington College Department of Theatre and Dance returned to the stage for their first in-person performance since spring 2020, their annual Dancescape. 

Performances occurred on Dec. 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. in Decker Theatre in the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts. The production consisted of seven dances choreographed by students, alumni, and guest artists. Lecturer in Dance Renee Gerardo directed Dancescape. 

Contributors presented dances in an array of styles, including Kathak, lyrical numbers, and an experimental performance. 

“Creating and making dance in this current time is a reminder of how critical it is to continue to support the growth of artists for the positive impact their work makes on our community,” Gerardo wrote in her director’s note. 

The recital opened with “Express,” an upbeat group number choreographed by junior Faithlin Hunter and performed by Sho’Troupe. 

Hunter’s number utilized the song “Express” from the film, “Burlesque.” While Hunter said the movie’s performance is more provocative than what Sho’Troupe presented, she wanted to capture the song’s energy and femininity.

“There is something powerful about a group of women dancing on stage to a song that refers to a bunch of sexual things, but for us, it’s taking that sexiness and using it in a way that makes us feel empowered,” Hunter said.

Junior Sneha Vireshwar Dixit followed with an energetic and euphoric Kathak dance titled “Vandana.”

One of six classical Indian dance forms, Kathak dance originated in northern India as a storytelling device for portraying epic stories from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, according to Kathak Dance Theatre. Kathak dance is characterized by intricate footwork accented by ankle bells, according to Britannica. 

Dixit, who has studied Kathak dance for almost a decade, said the dance form “helps her connect to her roots as an Indian and sees Indian classical dance as an expression of beauty in drama, motion, and pattern” in her dancer bio.

“Accomplice,” choreographed by senior Hannah Henderson, and “In the Dark,” choreographed by junior Andrea Peterson, embodied more subdued and melancholic tones.

Both dances were group numbers that explored relationships through lyrical dance styles, be it the toxic couplings depicted in “Accomplice” through its dance and music, or the finality of a burned-out relationship that “In the Dark” presented.

Sophomore Eden Lied passed the finality of “In the Dark” to explore the aftermath of a struggle in her performance, “Letting Go of the Past.” 

Presenting often jerky, harsh choreography to the persistent beat of Two Feet’s “I Feel Like I’m Drowning,” she expressed a sense of being torn down but defiant. 

Where Lied’s dance utilized stage lights flashing in time with the beat, Caroline Cox ’19 used projections in her number, “Theory of Everything,” to explore gender in mathematics. 

Set to music from the film, “The Theory of Everything,” and featuring voiceovers from Veritsasium’s “Math has a Fatal Flaw,” dancers junior Jodi Eren, senior Elli Janicjevic, and sophomore Anastasia Bekker explored the unprovable through searching movements. 

Ending the performance with a dramatic reveal of a chalkboard covered in names of famous women in STEM, such as Ada Lovelace, the tweed-donned dancers connected the “Fatal Flaw” not to the science itself but the social systems around it. 

The program finished with an experimental number choreographed by Guest Artist Krissy Harris and her dancers, seniors Heather Brown and Katherine Desrosiers, junior Adrienne Nolt, and Janicjevic. 

Harris, an MFA in Dance candidate at the University of Maryland College Park, said she is “fascinated by the moving body’s capacity for resilience, fluidity, and expansiveness” on her website. 

Her dances have episodic, cinematic, and non-linear structures. Her work plays with themes such as “femininity as a complex entity and qualitative force, that remains shifting and fluid,” and her choreography is highly physical, playing with chaos and abandon in search of catharsis, according to her website.

Harris’s chaotic, cinematic style was evident in her dance, “Shift.” Decorating the stage with bundles of sticks and featuring a mixture of white noise, earthquake sounds, and static-filled music, the dance set a vivid if undefined scene.

The dancers often moved in chaotic manners, either one at a time or all at once, as they fell to the ground or entered a graceful panic. 

“Shift” capped the recital, closing the Department of Theatre and Dance’s fall season. 

“Everyone is super excited, because we just share that love of dance—it’s an art—and we love to share the arts with everyone,” Hunter said.

The next performance is currently “Diaspora!” by Phaedra Michelle Scott ’14 directed by Angelisa Gillyard. The first performance is scheduled for Feb. 23 in Tawes Theatre.

Photo Courtesy of Paul Gillespie
Featured Photo Caption: Junior Jodi Eren, sophomore Anastasia Becker, and senior Elli Janicjevic (featured left to right) in “Theory of Everything,” a dance exploring gender and mathematics, choreographed by Caroline Cox ‘19.

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