Drawing a crowd of young and old, Carleton students and townies alike, Semaphore Repertory Dance Company presented their Spring Dance Concert performance with both daring movements and finesse. Exhibiting technical and artistic experience throughout the show, the concert’s pieces ranged between twists on classical styles of dance, contemporary, and interdisciplinary choreography.
The performance consisted of seven different dances featuring the eleven members of the 2014- 2015 Semaphore Company and several additional members of the Carleton dance community. Semaphore is a pre-professional dance company that chooses members through audition and provides them the opportunity to both work with professional choreographers and to create original work under the mentorship of Carleton’s dance faculty.
While the dancers were all clearly advanced, exuding a combination of grace and confidence, each performer also had a certain distinguishing style of movement that created individuality in the dances that often had the all of the dancers dressed alike. In “Big Eyed Betty”, choreographed by April Sellers in collaboration with the dancers, the short blonde wigs and black translucent dresses donned by the performers, along with jerky motions and carefully arranged transitions on and off stage brought to mind images of imperfect dolls. Incorporating the usage of dancers’ own voices into the performance increased the eerie effect of the almost in- sync movements, creating a jarring mood throughout the piece that ended as abruptly as it began. Contemporary, exploratory, and for lack of better words, extremely strange, the first performance elicited nervous giggles and surprised laughs from the audience that didn’t know what to expect.
The next few pieces, “Stripe Tease Study C” and “Bulbous Bouffant”, were both cleverly choreographed, in contrasting styles that exhibited the range of variety amongst different contemporary moods and dance styles. “Stripe Tease Study C” featured all of the performers garbed in short, off-white knit sweater dresses, identical from the front but that had different colored stripes running down their backs. The length of the dresses and the discreetly dissimilar stripes, along with the evident importance of unified group performance in this piece, made for a combined effect that was both entrancing and electrifying. “Bulbous Bouffant” saved the show’s mood from becoming too dark. As bright and humorous as its dancers’ bright orange jumpsuits, it featured three dancers playing different parts that interweave into an amusingly wacky, unforgettable performance.
As the concert progressed, the use of lighting, costumes, and background music became clearly integral to the performances, especially in “Rabbit Tango” and “WE ARE DESTINED FOR GREATNESS”. The first, a lighthearted twist on the classically overdramatic passion of the tango, featured two performers dressed in traditional tango costumes, down to the rose clenched between the male dancer’s teeth. The only differences were the pair of comically out-of-place pink fluffy rabbit ears placed on his head, and the “needed silliness” of the music’s lyrics. The second piece seemed to be a more serious comment on the nature of America’s society and work ethic. Eye-catching and revealing in the undulating motions of their bodies, the four performers traversed the lengths of the stage to the music until their heavy breathing and stamping of their feet had helped illustrate a clear and pointed story to the audience. The last piece, an excerpt from “The Main Street Project”, was performed along the same lines of a social commentary performance, except with a vibrant energy increased by the dancers’ lively and colorful costumes.
Overall, the show was a wonderful exploration of the range of dance created by students working in tandem with professionals, highlighting both the eccentric and common themes in society through both dark and lighthearted pieces. The variety of dances, combined with the individual styles of the dancers, helped elevate this show into a spirited, entertaining exhibition.