Shoshana Moyer performs "The Art of Loss" in UW Dance Department's SPRUNG: Emerging Dance Artists.
SPRUNG: Emerging Dance Artists, the latest series of student presentations by the UW Dance Department, reinforces that the university is a fertile ground for developing talent and artistry. The first concert was Thursday night at Lathrop Hall's H'Doubler Performance Space, and the show runs through April 27.
Opening night began with Shoshana Moyer's solo work, "The Art of Loss." Dressed in a long red gown, Moyer begins with her back to cellist Evan Kühl, whose original score is punctuated with hints of J.S. Bach. Her legs are akimbo, which reminds me of Martha Graham's "Lamentation." Perched upright, Moyer begins with a series of deliberate hand gestures, and then her arms proceed to snake around her torso. She finally shifts positions and rocks forward and back on her knees, her feet acting as the fulcrum, before she rises. When she turns to face Kühl, the drama is palpable. Moyer, now a senior, was already a good dancer as a freshman, but she will depart the UW with more depth and confidence.
"Fight or Flight" was choreographed and performed by Teresa Deziel and Melissa Holland. They appraise each other warily from across the stage, their movements at first low to the ground, legs mimicking the motions of mountain climbers. When they rise and move closer, they look like they're engaged in combat. Clad in bulky layers of neutral tones, the two dancers share an intense and sincere connection on stage.
Jordan Snider's ebullient tap solo, "Tangling Threads," was a pleasure. She was clearly having fun subverting audience's expectations about tap dance. She plays with her phrasing and adds some quiet to the mix, taking time to look out at the crowd. This action underscores the satisfying sounds she's generating with her feet.
"Aphorismicity," from senior Henry Holmes, is well conceived and constructed. The dancers appear and then quickly disappear from the wings, bathed in their own private pools of light. This piece for seven dancers reveals shifting alliances within the group and feels like a natural progression from Holmes' earlier solo works. Sarah Schwab is a new favorite of mine. Her long braid swings behind her as she dances with clarity and self-assurance. What impressed me most is that I can see Holmes' own movement style in his choreography. It's unusual that someone so young can impart that to other dancers.
Katie Warner always has a calm and steady presence strengthened by clean technique. Her solo work, "Propel," provides an excellent example of her strengths. In a crisp blue sleeveless peplum top, she cuts across the stage while otherworldly music from Max Richter plays. When she returns to some of the movement phrase from her entrance, it's clear that she's telling a deeply felt story.
Clever Meredith Weissert has illuminates her dancers' fingertips and outlines their hooded costumes with tubes of lights (think TRON) for "LEDigits," a piece that generates much fun and wonder. It might be a little gimmicky, but I was totally enthralled by the glow the trio of excellent dancers (Victoria Ianuzzi, Petra Weith and Moyer) generated. It appears that the rest of the audience felt the same way.
"Dualities in Unison," from Flora Hyoin Kim, is highly stylized with quilted silver camisoles, gunmetal short shorts and exaggerated eye makeup. Fueled by sterile and pulsating electronic music, the piece seems like it could have come from Priss, the sexy replicant in Blade Runner. Kim has her three dancers strike stereotypically provocative, preening poses, their shadows projected behind them.
Petra Weith may tire of people telling her that she brings to mind Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, but I think it's a compliment as she exudes a thoughtful forthrightness in her dancing. Contemplative and graceful, her solo "Dans la tête" showcases her skill. She makes the simple, everyday gesture of pushing her hair back from her face seem like so much more.
The program closed with "Untitled (live)," a sunny hootenanny from Arianna Dunmire and Jackie Thelen. This colorful romp featured Grace Deane (who had already done some very nice dancing in "Aphorismicity") singing a folk song to Zach Johnson's ukulele accompaniment. Unexpected and exuberant elements abounded. At one point, musicians seated on the dancers' backs are shuttled around in a silly caravan. This helped lift my mood after some of the program's more somber works. It also gave me hope that this long and grueling winter is really over.