Prime Movers 2014

Nov 17th, 2014 | By | Category: News

By John Sanford Friedrich

Nobody pursues modern dance as a way to get rich or even famous outside the arts community. Thus it comes as little surprise that the students of UNCG’s Department of Dance organize their own organization to present dances outside of the classroom. The club ‘Prime Movers’ offered 14 different performances beginning with ‘Departure’ by Dominique Alexis. ‘Departure’ was a semi-solo performance by Alexis with a politically oriented vocal track regarding the Millennial obsession with the Internet and social media.


‘What It Feels Like To Be Felt’ choreographed by Kaylynne Leggett was a more traditional dance work, with an alien lighting design by R. Mitchell Fore and jerky clockwork motions by the cast of a half-dozen beneath subdued techno.

It has been a full generation since the Saturday Night Live repeating sketch of John Belushi and Dan Akroyd’s “Killer Bees.” Maura Berry resurrected the look with her own bee costume complete with antennae. ‘The Pollinator’ was festively silly with Berry imitating the gleeful anticipation with which a bee might harvest pollen from a paper flower. Using a cellphone call to another bee, Berry opined on the rough treatment and potential extinction of bees being caused by human activity.

‘Redemption’s Twist’ brought Alexis again to the stage along with Kaitlynn Mann. These two appear to have a strong artistic energy between them. This work involved a good deal of push-pulling, or the female and male alternating between almost wrestling against one another while also coming together to make elegant motions, such as when Mann slid between his legs as Alexis joined the motion in his own way.

The award for most avant-garde has to go to Mecca Mayo’s charming solo performance of ‘Audacity.’ Too many choreographers rely on musical tracks, particularly those with lyrics, to convey the ‘meaning’ or prompt the emotional reaction of the audience to a performance. This could be thought of as an artistic crutch.

Mayo went in the opposite direction with her work. In this she is only briefly seen at the beginning and end of the performance in a narrow spotlight. The rest of the work was a tease for the audience – it was done completely in the dark and with no musical accompaniment. Mayo used her tapdancing experience to treat the audience to an auditory-only dance performance. She punctured the rhythmic tapping with her own whistles and hoots. Near the end of the performance one’s eyes adjusted to the dim lights of the emergency exit signage and some of her movements became visible. This experimental work might have been a bit audacious the listeners in the audience, in this case largely comprised of students’ family members and obligated romantic partners rather than the Greensboro dance fanbase proper. The audience became uncomfortable as the seconds tapped away and chose to cough and fumble with jackets by the end.

‘Endlessly Infinite’ would have had a hard time displeasing the audience due to its simple elegance and charm. Kasey Howe and Lila Weinstein offered a gentle duet in identical green robes beneath some wistfully sad stringed instruments. The two mirrored each other at times and interlocked their feet in a nice movement, suggesting a sincere friendship between the two.

Intermission was required after Camilla Smigo’s ‘Twisted (Real)ity.’ This was at times visually stark, as was the topic – depicting “the progression of schizophrenia in a young woman’s mind.” One dancer wore purple, the protagonist, while the others in a large cast wore either dull browns or funerary shades of black and in one portion the latter entered the stage in warped positions, suggesting something unclean. These concentric circles formed around the heroine, trapping her and jostling to control her mind. However she exerted some control, after all those with mental illness typically struggle to regain control.

‘012694’ is the rather austere title given to the solid opening work of the second act choreographed by Akinyemi Blackshear. This features a large cast but ultimately focused on a cheeky duet with the female lead in little more than a buttoned Oxford dress shirt. ‘012694’ is part of a larger work by Blackshear and a detailed review might be best reserved until the full performance is seen.

The third solo of the night was ‘Ingenue,’ by Nancy Macasieb. Wearing a red dress and working within a large rectangular light spread across the diagonal of the stage, her motions were precise and in a way mechanistic like the choreographic clarity required for a professional music video.

If Mayo’s ‘Audacity’ was a bare bones work, ‘Together’ went in the opposite direction by layering levels of sound and activity. Dancer Emilie Raleigh collaborated with non-dancer but musician Micah Hanner. At first this led to a cluttered experience with Hanner simply accentuating the rhythm of a subdued jazzy music track via his hand drums. It seemed needless to have both sources of music until Hanner joined Raleigh as a dancing partner, dotingly leading her for periods of a few moments before he returned to work on the drums.

‘Saudade’ by Lindsay Winthrop had a physical awareness and made full use of its six dancers. This even number might have tempted some choreographers into playing upon symmetry but Winthrop instead kept the ‘center of gravity’ off kilter in relation to the size and shape of the Dance Theater stage. The motions themselves remained centrifugal, with each limb following its original path without being roughly halted.

Bree Holstein and Dylan Reddish offered the inexplicably titled duet of ‘Selggiw Cibuc.’ Light filtered in from either side of the stage beneath the sound of water flowing and the clicks of some factory mechanism. The twosome wore similar costumes but inverted from each other in terms of color. The music turned cheerful and the duet became more fun and irreverent – a bit like the choreography seen in a crowd-pleasing movie from the silent era of cinema.

The final solo of the night was ‘Supine,’ an interesting work by Grace Duque. Evolution itself was the theme, whether on a biological or personal scale. A diagonal of three spotlights crossed the stage. In the first pool Duque was confined at first to autonomic twitching and later to a primitive series of rolls. In the second pool her motions advanced in complexity until the third light pool where she finally stood and danced like a member of Homo sapiens only to mark her devolution as she returned to the first pool and her starting position flat on the floor.

The second work to be entitled with numbers was ‘212’ led by Courtney White and served as the final performance of the concert. Dancers accumulated in clumps across the stage as the lighting gained a pinkish hue. The dancers tended to break apart and form their own duets within the performance, to some degree unconnected to the motions of the others. This is not too surprising when it is reflected upon that improvisation played a large role in the development of this dance.

Prime Movers may be over but there are opportunities left in 2014 to enjoy dance in Greensboro. The next are the annual “Fall Dances” Nov. 20-22 where the professors within the department offer their own creations.


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