This past Saturday at around 7:45 p.m., people trickled into the Proscenium Theatre, eyeing the selection of open seats. It wasn’t a particularly large crowd, but it was enough to fill the first level. A few were holding brightly colored bouquets, presumably for the soon-to-be performing dancers. Some stared up in awe at the thick red curtain covering the stage, not knowing what to expect. At a few minutes past 8 p.m., the wait was over. The house lights dimmed, the curtain raised and the audience was greeted by a dark stage.
It became apparent very quickly was that this wasn’t your typical dance performance. The stage lights came up to reveal two women, both dressed in black tops and patterned black and white pants. Instead of typical music, however, these women danced to various sounds. One woman danced to the movie introduction for Columbia Pictures. Then, they both danced to sound bites of someone reciting lines from the film “Stranger than Fiction.” They circled around each other, neither woman doing the same steps as the other. This gave the piece a bit of a chaotic feel.
The following piece proved to be quite different, as a young man and woman took the stage. They danced together to a slower song played by piano and strings. Their movements were in sync, softer and more romantic than the first piece. Altogether, the entire performance was made up of eight pieces, each one lasting about five minutes.
This was the last day of the Baltimore Dance Project’s series of performances at UMBC, having begun their showings here on Thursday, Feb. 4. The Baltimore Dance Project, an accomplished modern dance company recruits dancers from the Baltimore area, among other places. In fact, many of the dancers featured in these performances have either graduated from UMBC or are still students here.
One of the things that was most surprising was the music. Some pieces were set to traditional music. Some, however, were set to a collection of sounds and music. One was set to a mixture of music and sound clips of a programmed GPS. One piece was even set entirely to three musicians tapping simultaneously on the rim of a snare drum.
With all of the interesting choices made by the choreographers of these pieces, it was sometimes difficult to understand what each piece was about. However, that uncertainty didn’t take away from the exceptional performance of the dancers. Each portrayed a deep emotion, and let that emotion exude through their movements.
After this show, it’s clear how Baltimore Dance Project has become so accomplished. Though each segment didn’t always make strictly logical sense, it was evident that each performer was skilled enough to deliver a unique performance.