The College of Wooster’s Department of Theatre and Dance annual Spring Dance Concert concluded on Saturday, April 23. With the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company as a special guest, the show ran for three days at Wooster’s Freedlander Theatre.
Directed by Emily Baird, a Professor of Theatre and Dance at the College, the concert featured 10 shows choreographed by students and one performance choreographed by Baird herself. Ranging from whimsical, to energetic, to intense and hard-hitting, the dancers participated in a number of dance styles covering various themes. Modern, contemporary and classical Chinese dance were used to convey topics of intersectional feminism, party culture, dance and disability, or the joy of reconnection. According to Baird, “[t]hough each dance looks and sounds different, each one is an exploration of the human experience.”
The dance concert highlighted the hard work of nine student choreographers: Gracie Shreve ’23, Nicole (Nikki) Preucil ’22, Morgan Carson ’23, Dantong Bi (Bee) ’23, Iván Mreïs Akiri ’22, Kate Yordy ’22, Sarah Brunot ’22, Katie Spence ’23 and Liv Mourning ’22. Their dances celebrated community and identity, commented on struggles with mental health, critiqued the pitfalls of party culture or portrayed historical events.
Each performance was a beautiful, sensory experience. The use of lighting, costumes and music created a distinct mood for every performance and enhanced the audience’s participation in the acts. A swathe of light across the back of the stage glowed softly for more light-hearted pieces, such “III – The Empress,” choreographed by Shreve, but turned dark or flashed for heavier, more intense pieces, like “The Destructive Party Fouls,” choreographed by Carson, or “gone.” choreographed by Spence. “It was the best dance concert I’ve seen in my time at Wooster,” said Mariam Zghuladze ’22, a member of the audience, “all of the performances were so well done!”
From the audience, it was clear that enormous amounts of work went into the finished product, which included a piece presented in partial fulfillment of the senior Independent Study process. Choreographed by Mourning, the piece related experiences with injury with experiences in the dance world. A compelling and visually interesting piece, Mourning’s dancers captured the severity and stringency of the dance world, and how difficult it can be to keep up. Mourning’s study incorporated preventative physical therapy exercises as a method of diminishing the chance of injury for dancers during practice.
While the show has closed, students should keep an eye out for more performances by the College’s Theatre and Dance Department in the coming semesters. While you’re waiting, make sure to congratulate the choreographers and performers for all their hard work — they’ve earned it!