Contemporary dance is an acquired taste for many people, but it can be a great combination of the best parts of every type of dance.
When the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company came to the University of Nevada, Reno stage at the Nightingale Concert Hall, the audience enjoyed the performance—though not in the way one would expect.
Shoshana Zeldner, program manager for the university’s special events, introduced the show and explained all of the pieces in the show were on tour for the very first time. Dancers in the performance included Peter Farrow, Corinne Lohner, Megan McCarthy, Alexander Pham, Fausto Rivera and Miche’ Smith.
There was a sad feeling to the first piece, “On Being”, choreographed by Daniel Charon in collaboration with the dancers. The whole performance consisted of very slow, soulful music. Contrastingly the dance was a bit chaotic, with the performers running across the stage while performing their own individual moves simultaneously. However, the connection and flow between the body parts of each dancer and their partner when they joined together was incredible.
This piece was emotional and beautiful to witness; however, there was a sound gap during this piece where the sound of feet stomping on the stage and heavy breathing became a bit distracting.
The second piece, “Two Hearted”, choreographed by Keerati Jinakunwiphat, was much more moving. Half way through the piece there was a poem recited by Smith, one of the dancers on stage. At first, there were a few giggles in the crowd as the poem started off comedically, but it turned fairly serious towards the end.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, see what’s left there after all,” Smith recited, completely moving the audience as the silence echoed the concert hall.
This piece had serious moments like the poem, but there were many fast-paced parts, including each sequence where all of the dancers picked one another up in a race. It was impressive to see all of these dancers have the physical strength to carry one another so flawlessly.
After a short intermission, the final piece, “I can see myself” came rather quickly. This dance was choreographed by Andrea Miller, but re-staged by Haley Sung and Dan Walczak. This piece was the longest, but had the most engaging aspects.
The dance had upbeat music, sensual motions and a lot of intriguing contemporary moves. Each dancer wore vibrant silky costumes with sparkles, their shadows shining from the spotlights against a plain white background. Each of their entrances made the crowd crack up from the goofy looseness of their shaking bodies to the music.
Once the dance slowed, there was an entire solo dedicated to the dancer McCarthy as she enacted her human pretzel-like skills to the audience. She flipped and flopped all over the stage, pretending she had no muscle in her body to pull herself up. It was absolutely hilarious. The crowd laughed, and it was a wonder how the other five of the dancers managed to keep a straight face as they watched her worm her way around. Regardless of the hilarity of the scene, it was incredible to see the strength this performer managed through the entire duration of this lengthy solo.
After this scene, the three men, Farrow, Pham and Rivera, came to the stage to perform a dance as a trio. It was a bit intimidating and odd. With the combination of movements, the music’s intensity and the passion in their voices as they sang along, anyone would surely be rattled. However, there were still some fascinatingly funny and carefree parts of this trio’s piece as well.
When Smith and Pham hit the stage for their duo dance right after, the whole thing became very sensual, very fast. The annoyance on Pham’s face as Smith threw herself at him was quite hilarious, but there were some carnal scenes which were shocking to the audience.
In the genre of contemporary dance, anything is possible.
As the show rolled to an end, all the dancers came together as the lights dimmed. It concluded with just one spotlight shining on the six of them huddled together, with no music, the only sound being the thumping of feet and a silent crowd. It was a very powerful ending to an oddly fantastic show.
Cheers soared through the room as the dancers bowed and smiled, most likely satisfied with the result after their particularly hard work. The crowd even gave the dancers a standing ovation to finish their night off with a solid bang.
Jaedyn Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.