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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Dance groups ‘Take the Lead’ at annual Dancefest

Published: November 11, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc., Top Stories

As a broad exhibition of the many dance styles at Brandeis, Dancefest 2011 at Levin Ballroom on Nov. 9 presented a hefty two hours of passionate dancers sharing what they love with an enthusiastic and engaged audience. Each routine was an engaging and truly enjoyable experience, with styles ranging from hip-hop to African dance to ballet. Overall, Dancefest was an interesting and alluring event.

Dancefest opened with “Keep on Dancing,” choreographed by Sam Cortez, which set the tone for the show with a smile and an intensely expressive piece. Though numerous pieces of music were used for the routine, each flowed effortlessly from one to the next, creating a single, connected experience. The number ends on the lyric, “Keep on dancing till the world ends,” from the song “Till the World Ends” by Britney Spears, a sentiment that set the driving pace, passion and tone of the show as a whole.

The first act of the show lasted an hour and featured acts by numerous Brandeis dance troupes, including an alumni crew, in addition to acts by Suffolk University and Simmons College. My personal favorite of the first half of the show was Begin/Restart, put on by the Adagio Dance Ensemble and choreographed by Kayla Dinces ’12. Set to the heavy, moody “Intro” by the xx, the routine had an almost enchanting air with graceful synchronicity. The immersive number hinted at a deeper story that made the routine truly come together. I was also particularly struck by the alumni routine, a simple and somber performance set to “Hospital Beds” by Florence and the Machine and “Hospital Beds” by Cold War Kids. With a great sense of mood and purpose both in motion and music, the number was solemn and enchanting.

The final number of act one was put on by Kaos Kids and choreographed by Shaquan Perkins ’13, Stephanie Ramos ’14, Christin Lee ’14, JP Weigand MA ’12, Sam Cortez ’13, David Robles ’13 and Sang Joon Lee ’13 to enormous audience fanfare. The love on campus for this group is apparent, a remark on the high quality of the show. The performance was engaged with the music and showcased the performers’ skills without overtly favoring any particular dancers. The audience enthusiasm is clearly well earned, with an entertaining and intense show that tied a sense of an almost post-apocalyptic story grounded in modern hip-hop culture.

The second act began with a deeply thematic piece, “Let Yourself Go,” choreographed by Taylor Lombard ’13. This swift, abrasive routine really challenges the audience, staring the observer in the face in a number about the triumph of overcoming fear and uncertainty with swift motion and intense lighting. The second half of the show continued to feature various Brandeis dance crews including the So Unique Step Team and the semi-professional Israeli dance troupe, B’yachad. Additionally, act two featured routines by troops from Bentley and Tufts universities.

In this act, I was particular struck by a routine called “Restraint,” set to “Otherside” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and choreographed by Jessica Urbach ’14. There was a very minimalist feel both to the music and the movement, creating an emotive routine full of beauty and melancholia. Throughout the number, the dancers maintained expressions that were half numb, half hurt. These looks, a facial manifestation of what they were trying to dance, truly maintained the emotions conveyed throughout the routine. Each dancer truly looked like a person past their breaking point, which fit perfectly with the themes: the idea that we all must know our limits.

After two hours of passionate dance, the show ended on another number by the Adagio Dance Ensemble called “Invasion,” choreographed by Melanie Shapiro ’12. This creative routine about aliens invading Brandeis ended the show on a truly memorable note with an eerie and entertaining number set partially (and quite surprisingly) to dubstep. This routine stood out quite notably from the rest thanks to its sense of story, creepy atmosphere and unusual music, making it a great, notable end to the show as a whole.

With an enthusiastic audience and passionate dancers, there was a wonderful energy to the entire show. I was particularly impressed with the apparent dedication of the dancers in all the troupes; it was clear that an enormous amount of time and effort went into each routine. Furthermore, there was something quite inspiring in the show and its dancers. Watching these passionate people almost made me wish I could be a dancer. With 22 performances in total, including four by visiting colleges and universities, Take the Lead: Dancefest 2011 presented a full two hours of immersive and engaging dance.