This month’s Terpsichore fall recital featured a rich and inspiring selection of dances, rendered infinitely more exciting by the quality of being student-produced, -choreographed, and -performed. While admittedly varied in terms of technique and personality (I won’t lie, I did cringe from time to time), the Terp choreographers and dancers showed a surprising amount of devotion and skill.
Particularly striking was the opening piece, a tap number choreographed by Lena Solow. The louche, pleasing dance featured technical precision tempered with a casual attitude, and interesting references to step dancing.
“Vanishing Point,” a jazz number done to “The Ghost Inside” by Broken Bells, was both sultry and slightly mechanical. While it was performed by truly talented dancers, the best part of the piece was probably choreographer Ruby Barry’s delightful smile.
Another standout was Matt Carney’s modern piece set to Bassnectar. The whirlwind of 24 dancers magnified the weight of the music in an unexpected and slightly brazen way. I derived an additional, personal joy out of watching about a half dozen of my friends, whom I had never seen dance before, writhing gracefully on the floor and catching each other mid-leap.
Aptly enough, Catherine Doren’s theatrical ballet piece, “Pageant,” was set to music by Cirque du Soleil. The fact that the choreographer made herself the prima ballerina, so to speak, only bothered me a little, in light of how well done and professional the dance was. It was completely together and gorgeous, if not a little overwhelmingly grandiose.
On a more serious note, Gryate’s “Heartbeats,” a modern piece set to the José Gonzales acoustic cover of the hipster-approved Knife song, was, in one word, thrilling. With only three dancers, I was nearly moved to tears by the plaintive beauty of Nik Owens’ effortless jumps, Francesca Buzzi’s gorgeous lines, and Emily Lippe’s tender grace.
Naakai Addy’s modern dance to Björk and Antony Hegarty’s song “Dull Flame of Desire” gave me a similar reaction. The piece was powerful in an aching, tense sort of way. I actually got some shivers while taking in such a control of motion and choreographic restraint.
The last number of the recital—Allison Hurd’s “Suits”—was a fitting finale (no pun intended…seriously). The Al Jarreau music nicely complemented the jazz choreography as performed by the Terp Core. The best way to describe it is that “Suits” is my fantasy of a businessmen’s bar. Everyone would be sitting around, drinking their whiskey or martinis, and then get inebriated enough to dance a charming jazz number with technical prowess. Yes, that’s right.
I left the show feeling mightily proud of my fellow students, with Broken Bells stuck in my head, and a tiny urge to put my pointe shoes back on. Very little can spark that third sentiment in me. Kudos, Terp.
Photo: The Terp Core dancers perform “Suits,” as photographed by Christina Pham ‘13.