Students choreographed their own performances for the Senior Dance Concert April 20 and 21. Photo by Priya Patel.
Friday night’s senior dance concert in the Dance Cube of UMBC’s Performing Arts and Humanities Building created poetry with movement, striking emotional chords in the audience throughout the night.
Choreographed solely by senior UMBC dance majors, each dance was a complex narrative that had different stories to tell with different costumes, lighting, sound effects and dancers.
The audience was comprised mostly of supportive family and friends of the dancers, but each person gazed with intent and curiosity as the lights dimmed and the first dance began. It was a piece that addressed the harsh realities than many American minorities live in during the modern Trump era.
The dancers moved across the stage with gentle, yet distressed fervidity as news report videos and interviews played on the screen behind them. A passionate feeling of empathy filled the room and the dance ended with an excited audience member shouting, “That’s how you start a show!”
The rest of the dances were not as explicit with their meanings and inspirations, but a range of impressive theatrical and lighting techniques was used that was, in itself, awe-inspiring.
One dance had a dancer illuminated in a spotlight of white light, and as he performed, a powder floated off of his body, giving him a ghostly silhouette and making the dance that much more powerful.
Lighting techniques created multiple ‘mirror-like’ shadows of the moving dancers on the big screen behind them, creating especially powerful interpretations of the meanings of the dance in relation to the title listed in the program.
Costumes were also diverse throughout each dance, ranging from spandex shorts to cargo pants, masks and blue lipstick. How each costume correlated to its respective dance was not clearly stated, but was open to interpretation.
As for sound, only one dance actually used real melodic music, but the rest consisted of highly synthesized, electronic, industrial sounds. It seemed that the purpose of this was to allow the audience to focus more on the dancers’ movements and create a distressed feeling of dis synchronicity between sound and dancer.
Dance can be used to point out the complex feelings of real and difficult issues that the world faces every day in a lyrical and unconventional way. Choreographing a dance that can evoke these emotions and issues is an extremely difficult thing to do, but these UMBC seniors did a great job in capturing their audience with a single movement.
A concept in the arts and in therapy is that relating dance to personal and global issues allow audiences to have an experience while also allowing the dancers themselves to work through their own pain related to the issue.
Dance gives this undeniably unique perspective of the world and these UMBC senior dance majors successfully conveyed these perspectives in their performances and choreography.