By David F. Pendrys
Sacred Heart University’s Dance Ensemble presented their Spring Finale Saturday afternoon putting out a nice mix of performances. The exhibitions varied from numbers with large amounts of dancers, to a few soloist and small group routines. Modern dance, hip hop, and tap were all showcased throughout.
One of the joys of the larger dance groups, is at times the sheer magnitude of dancers on stage at once and how the interact and move together. This is lost in smaller groups, which are excellent in their own right, but provides a unique visual effect. My words will not do the dances justice as it is best to witness the dances themselves to comprehend them.
The show opened with a large group segment which was powerful and amidst the various movement there was plenty of spins, leaps, scales, and kicks. This was followed by a slower more elegant piece as the dancers, clad in black dresses, broke up into two groups. One cadre would dance while the others would sway. The dresses flowed especially dramatically when the dancers would spin and there was great movement in unison including a pirouette to a big leap. Later in the piece, a trio of performers performed a longer spin sequence as the others moved around them.
The hip hop routines were well executed including an army themed number featured powerful marching and punching. Later a large group slammed down a fierce cooperative effort. The energy was noticeable and strong.
At times the dances would get thematic as one of the more sillier performances started with numerous ladies limp and draped over the stage edge before two others came out and wound them up. Music clearly channeling a clock played as everyone stood up wearing dollish type clothes, performing stilted dances. The doll routine was distinct thematically as the ensemble moved seemingly at random across the stage taking on the roles of the toys.
Immediately following this light effort, another aspect of childhood was touched on but in a far darker way. A slumber party of pj clad dancers was underway but the creepy voice over of a child promised death. One soon realized the participants all had dark eye shadow perhaps suggesting they were dead or certainly not joyous souls. While most of the dancers performed in unison, some had specific roles, one was even picked up and flung backwards in the air only to be caught by others.
A more serious piece against bullying and judging featured a mirror on the stage later in the afternoon. Those on stage clad in simple black unitards moved around often in disparate ways as a voice spoke about people being judged and mistreated. The mirror was slowly rolled across the stage as the dance continued eventually ending in the center with the everyone all looking through it. It was beautiful although with a sad theme.
The lone solo performance of the day featured the dancer performing among other things a sequence of multiple turns in rapid succession as she moved across the stage. She also performed a leap switching her leg position as she leapt in a split, and later added another big split leap as well as other jumps in an exciting routine.
There were also two trios which took the stage at various times and were impressive having the spotlight all to themselves as they flitted around the stage showcasing their skills and abilities.
A tap number showed a great deal of skill, and even some jumps, which I ignorantly was not expecting. The precision necessary to pull off the steps together was quite extraordinary.
Some other routines included a Backstreet Boys themed expansive number which just got wild. Also, nine of the dancers took the stage for a well executed and beautiful slower modern number, some in black, some in gold, all seemingly in pain ending with four pairs coupled up and one left alone.
An especially large routine featured the ladies looking at photographs seemingly longing their love and integrating the photographs into their performances. Another huge number had a tons of the performers on stage at once and also dropped in two dancers launching into tumbling passes which I was quite a fan of.
The final dance of the night was set to of all things Justin Bieber. Nonetheless it was well done as the finales normally involve sliding different groups of dancers on and off stage for one final sequence before sliding another group on, and repeating. Unlike every other routine of the night, this tries to integrate every single performer seamlessly and it can be stunning. With great energy SHU’s Dance Ensemble closed it out with many of their number in the aisles and in front of the stage as well amidst the crowd.
SHU’s Dance Ensemble did a great job and should be commended.
Editor’s Note: The event ran out of programs so I was unfortunately left without information on the name of any of the numbers or the choreographers and staff. Also apologies for the lack of technical discussion and terminology.