posted 2011-04-27 12:00:05

A Night with the Hunter College Dance Company

Leaping into Spring

A Night with the Hunter College Dance Company


Melissa West

Contributing Writer

The Hunter College Dance Company opened their Spring Concert at the Kaye Playhouse on Thursday, Apr. 7, and ran until Saturday, Apr. 9. The company, comprised of undergraduate dancers and choreographers, presented students works in addition to two reconstructions. The performances featured five student works and three repertory pieces, of which many were first performed at the Fall Concert in November. Throughout the evening, the audience was treated to a first-hand viewing of the level of technique and artistry within the company.

The program started with The Inner You, choreographed by Everett Taylor. The dance, a quartet, featured two female dancers and two male dancers. Timothy Edwards and Mr. Taylor performed with nearly as much sass as Michelle Merlo and Ana Billingsley. Adorned with two wooden benches and a suitcase of stiletto heels, the stage was illuminated with the radiance of a summer afternoon in Central Park. Questions of gender roles were obvious when Taylor and Edwards each wore a single stiletto pump alongside the female dancers. Though what exactly was being questioned was less clear, this quartet had all of the chemistry for a crowd-pleasing and successful opening number.

Kristen Keim, a senior student choreographer, has seen her work performed at the Kaye for the last two years. Her latest piece, Different Pages, was a softly hued duet featuring Keim and Nakita Newton. In this typical contemporary dance piece, Keim utilized momentum and weighted partnering to indicate a very intimate relationship amongst the two dancers. This piece was much softer than Taylor’s and revealed a subtler world.

The most interesting student work was Out of the Jacket, Onto the Blade by Luna Zhao. Zhao used projections and stark costuming of thick red lines on black unitards with matching red face paint to create the setting of a dark and twisted world. The dance, harkening the theories of Merce Cunningham, was angular in its vocabulary and revealed no outward narrative. Of the six female dancers, Famechy Knight stood out, dancing with ease while covering a lot of ground.

Doreshia Hines and Sharmita Saha also presented works of theirs, although radically different from one another. Hines presented a duet which was contained yet strong. Saha’s work featured Indian-fusion, colorful costumes, and athletic phrase work for a cast of eight dancers. Both were well received and demonstrated the diversity of the company members.

What truly made the program special, however, was the reconstruction of two historic dances by Alwin Nikolais, a pioneer of American choreography. These pieces were reconstructed in conjunction with the 100th year anniversary “Sharing the Legacy” conference, which takes place in April. Tensile Involvement, restaged by Alberto del Saz, featured some of the best dancers in the company. Laura Schubert, whose superb skills were showcased in a number of solos throughout the program, was most notable here. She embodied the physical agility of the work while maintaining meticulous technique. Aviary, the other reconstruction, was restaged by Gerald Otte, a professor and former Nikolais dancer. This piece featured some lovely moments, as the dancers glided across the stage like birds flocking.

Overall, the students danced with much clarity, accuracy, and creativity, also performing a new work by Harkness Choreographer-in-Residence, Kendra Portier, with a sense of craft and honesty. The Hunter College Dance Department will present more student works in May. For more information, see www.hunter.cuny.edu/dance/.

Melissa West is an independent mover/choreographer/hooper and poet. She currently works for the Performing Arts Department at Hunter College and as a class registrar for Movement Research. Please visit www.mwestandcompany.wordpress.com for more information.