Forget everything you (think you) know about dance
Baltimore Dance Project dancers use their entire bodies throughout the performance, truly pushing the limit of what dance can be and what the body can do. Photo courtesy of Marlayna Demond.

Forget everything you (think you) know about dance

The Baltimore Dance Project is like nothing anyone has ever seen. The elements of this production, from costumes and music to the lighting and movements, are specifically arranged to create an experience unlike any other. The dancers gracefully synchronize their movements and forms and coax each other into one entity on stage.

With elements of horror, restoration and melancholy, the Baltimore Dance Project is not an average dance recital. The focus is not on ballet or tap or jazz — or any type of traditional or conventional dance — but on the body’s full range of motion. The performances incorporate natural, fluid, human movements and mechanical, sporadic, inhuman positions.

Some dances completely distance the dancer from the movements, creating a disturbing but enthralling escapade for the viewer. Other dances feature less eerie components and are paired with lighter, more whimsical audio and visual supplements. One performance is as beautiful as flames dancing on a pool of water.

The intensity and darkness of the dances increase with each performance, from whimsical to thrilling, from Waterlilies to The Deep. The Baltimore Dance Project teaches us that dance is as moving and unsettling as any other art form. While the event ends almost identically to how it starts with a somewhat tame dance comparable to ballet, it successfully brings the event to a close; it comes full circle.

The costumes of the Baltimore Dance Project are perfectly complementary to the context of the dances. The first costumes are vibrant, loose and flowy with an emphasis on the flare they bring to the performance. The final costumes are neutral and pale, body conforming and identical, allowing the audience’s eyes to digest every move the dancers make.

Most of the dancers, including Giavanni Powell, Briana Norwood, Maia Schechter, Sammy Siegel, Clarisse Lukban, Melissa Hudson, and Emily Godfrey, are current UMBC students who all embody a certain fluidity that brings the Baltimore Dance Project to life and makes the performance a unique experience. These women are hypnotic and ethereal. Each brings their own signature to the moves.

Alongside the current students are five alumni, Ryan Bailey, Franki Graham, Eric Holmes, Desiree Koontz-Nachtrieb, and Kendra Welborn. These individuals make the dynamic team that creates the daringly creative and exhilarating adventure of the Baltimore Dance Project.

A few crucial pieces of the Baltimore Dance Project are the background effects: the music, lighting, and props. The rise and fall of the music control the corresponding movement. The manipulation of lighting and shadows create an ominous vibe which pulls the observer into the performance. Outside of the actual dances, the efforts that go into the production are essential to guaranteeing the connection between audience and dancers. The props add dimension, immersing the viewer into the performance.

Outside of the dancers and the creative elements of the Baltimore Dance Project, it is a wonderful way to celebrate the arts. By supporting this event, those in attendance are celebrating the rich and talented minds of UMBC students and faculty.

The Baltimore Dance Project plants a deeper appreciation of art in the psyche of every attendee. Every preconception of what art, specifically dance, is supposed to look like is carefully uprooted and replaced with a new understanding of creative expression. One will not leave the theater unchanged.