By Antonia Spano
Last month, on March 16-18, DeSales’ Dance Department had its annual DeSales University Dance Ensemble (DUDE) Concert. Dance students were featured in six dances, with the final dance only performed by seniors.
“For me, concert implies a much more formal showing of art at a professional level. When I was younger, I danced in annual recitals that showcased our improvement in classes that year,” said senior Emmy Spaar. “These dance concerts are more focused on presenting new works and challenging ourselves to move outside of our comfort zones. Often some of the pieces we present onstage have little to do with what we’ve been working on in class that year.”
The first dance was called A Little Off and featured seven dancers. The costumes and settings used bright colors. Spaar stated that the dance represented a woman talking to herself. Movements alluded to communication, with the dancers making their hands talk.
“Learning the pieces for DUDE is never too hard because as a dance major, I work on memorization and picking up choreography every day,” Spaar said.
But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have some challenges.
“I found the rehearsal process more challenging in that I learned both of my dances in residencies. This meant that the guest choreographers came to DeSales the week before classes began in January and created the pieces within those five days. These processes are amazing because you get to meet and work closely with different artists, but they can be really physically taxing.”
One of the pieces by a guest was Rainfall, choreographed by Er Dong Hu, a professor of theatre and dance at Bucknell University. This dance used purple costumes. The dancers formed two lines at one point and ran through each other and sometimes performed moves as couples. Many of the movements in the dance mimicked themes of cause and effect.
Entanglement was choreographed by the head of the dance department. The music, “Ten Tigers” and “Cirrus” by Bonobo, was upbeat and lively. The costumes used the bright colors of blue and green. The dancers formed groups of two or three to move with, sometimes just walking or running across the stage. The vibrant colors and movement made for a beautiful piece.
“I always loved watching Tim’s piece,” Spaar said. “The partnering is truly breathtaking, and the cast seemed to connect with each other so well. It was so interesting to me how many events could take place onstage simultaneously and still remain cohesive.”
For the senior piece, the senior dance majors danced to Spanish music. Their costumes consisted of tropical printed shirts. It was called Abre tus Ojos, which means “Open Your Eyes” in Spanish, and was created by Colby Damon, another guest choreographer. The lighting used for the dance showed the span of one day, from dawn to dusk. It was Spaar’s favorite as it was the last dance she performed as a student.
“[I] got to perform it with the ten people I’ve been privileged enough to dance with these past four years.”
Different components made up the dance, she explained. “The music is so much fun, and the movement is so joyful and exuberant. It was challenging stamina-wise, so I think we all experienced a sense of accomplishment when it was over.”
Spaar had some advice for those in similar performing arts. She believes that being away from one’s surroundings helps.
“I would encourage younger dancers to try to remain present throughout the whole rehearsal process. I found that watching the choreographers work, I learned so much about making dances and communicating with people.”
“Risks!” Spaar encourages. “Sometimes when we work on a dance for months, you can become stagnant and get too comfortable with it, so it’s always good to try to push yourself to try things in a new way or go farther with your movement.”
Overall, the DUDEs were a great and exciting experience. Memories were made both on stage, and in the audience.