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Exploring life, love and pain through dance

Throughout the many end-of-the-semester events this December at UMBC, one that stood out with its artistic creativity and stamina was the Department of Dance’s Fall Dance Showcase. A multitude of talented and expressive dancers performed original choreography in the Proscenium Theatre in UMBC’s Performing Arts and Humanities Building. Exploring many different aspects of life and suffering, each performance was accompanied by some sort of music, ranging from electronic to orchestral.

There were even moments where instruments were played live, such as the playing of drums in the West African dance piece entitled “Soba!” This piece especially captivated the audience with its vivacity, power and energy and had the audience clapping along.

This rite of passage dance, representing the transition from girlhood into womanhood, is a neo-traditional dance from the West African country of Senegal. The piece included all 19 dancers clad in traditional costumes, dancing with huge smiles on their faces and sending yips toward the crowd.

The other dance pieces were not as light-hearted as “Soba,” but they were just as effective in evoking thoughts and emotions related to war, peace, religion and love.

“Here on Shaky Ground, We Move” was a beautiful piece performed by dancers Joshua Gray, Alison Lavia and Gretta Zinski, invoking a sense of love and friendship. “War Machine” explored different conflicts throughout history, using certain movements to reference the Holocaust and other events of extreme violence.

However, the opening dance was the most prominent and visually exciting piece of the night. “Symbiosis,” performed by ten dancers, created an eerie yet beautiful image of the dancers, creatively using a video camera that recorded the dancers from behind. The video was then projected onto different screens, either in front of or behind the dancers, with a negative filter that created striking images of oneness and fluidity.

In addition to this creativity, “When Eve and Eve Bit the Apple,” explored the troubling relationship between Christianity and being a lesbian. Done through the expressive reading of a poem behind the performance of Sarah Brewer and Michelle Ye, the piece was a beautiful yet heart-wrenching ode to the difficulties between gayness and Christianity.

The closing piece, “Title: ONWARD!” used all sorts of lighting, choreography, music and visuals to create a sense of journey and struggle. Performing the almost 20 minute piece, the 15 dancers carried beautifully through, ending the night with 15 silhouettes slowly walking away.

Overall, the night was full of creative expression through dance, visuals and spoken word. By exploring both the good and bad in life, this group of dancers, choreographers, musicians and professors put on a show full of truth and sincerity that was accessible to all members of the UMBC community.

The next UMBC Department of Dance event will be the Baltimore Dance Project in Feb. 2019.