The air was casual as members of the high school’s choreography class stretched, chatted and straightened each other’s hair on the floor of Dance Studio One. Dance teacher Christian Polos gave the girls a signal, and the lights dimmed and the dancers lined up against the wall.
On Friday, March 24, the high school’s choreography class hosted their annual Choreography Showcase. The show followed the four units the dancers have been studying in class so far this year, with Polos giving a brief introduction to the unit.
The first piece represented the dancers’ study of the Laban Effort Shape, a dance theology named for its creator Rudolf Laban. The piece, which was silent, featured each girl exploring Laban’s Box, a series of eight central movements that Laban believed made up all movement. The dancers followed the piece with improvised sequences moving across the floor that embodied the basic movements such as “Float,” “Slash” and “Wring.”
The next unit the dancers showcased was the art of the duet. Three pairs and one group of three showed a series of silent pieces. The dancers’ movements, from their breath to the squeak of feet on the floor, were audible, adding an interesting layer.
The third unit was the study of support dances, or dances focused on physical contact, especially lifts, between the dancers. These dances were accompanied by music. Most groups chose music that was very slow and melodic, which fit the more emotional nature of the dances. In all three groups that performed, the dancers had to trust each other to lift each other or to have their movements be guided by the other dancers onstage.
The final unit was about period dances. According to Polos, he considered this to be the most difficult of all four units. The dancers were split into groups, and each group was asked to pick a place and a time period and to create a piece based on them. These were the longest pieces in the show and, though the costumes were minimalist, they were also important to the piece.
The first piece was inspired by 1950s Mexico and the fight for women’s suffrage. The piece featured dancers in long, traditional skirts dancing in a style specific to Mexican culture, juxtaposed with a soloist suddenly breaking into modern choreography. According to the dancers, this represented the women fighting for their rights who wanted to break out of their roles. Going along with this motif, the piece ended with the performers stepping out of their skirts to face the audience with looks of determination.
The second piece, inspired by immigration in the 1900s, showed the mixture of two cultures through distinctly different costumes and music, but the music eventually blended together as the dancers worked together. Another piece was inspired by the variety of cultures across the African continent. Clothed in colorful scarves, the dancers showed movement that, the audience later learned, was traveling east to west across Africa.
The final piece was inspired by mill girls in the 1800s. The dancers wore simple gray button down shirts, and their repetitive movement represented the monotony of factory work. Through their movement, they also expressed their anger towards the danger of their job, and the piece ended with each dancer running offstage as a representation of the girls going on strike. Overall, the showcase displayed the incredible range of the dancers and their ability to create interpretive, personal movement. The class will be performing more original work at Progressions this spring.