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Leeanna Holliday 1

Leeanna Holliday

Mrs. Sluder


2 January 2017

Dance Critique

I went to the North Carolina Dance Festival which was held in the Van Dyke

Performance Space for my dance critique. I saw many different unique pieces and loved

watching the visions and ideas of different choreographers manifest through the dancers. It was

also nice to see older dancers because I am one of the older dancers at my studio. It is hard

because we cannot see the technical and emotional experience of an older dancer and this was

definitely something that stood out to me at the dance festival. The first three pieces were the

ones that I chose to critique.

The first piece in the program was entitled "Full Circle". The choreographer, Jan Van

Dyke, created this dance in 1989. She also founded the North Carolina Dance Festival in 1991

and unfortunately just died last year. Virginia Dupont, Laura McDuffee, and Kate Weaver were

the three dancers who performed this dance. They are now the directors and were long time

company members of the Van Dyke Dance Group. Hopefully they are just as amazing

choreographers, teachers, and community leaders as she was.

As for the dance, it was not my favorite out of all of them. There were some strengths

such as quality of movement and overall intention. For example, the dancers were very good at

showing slow fluid movement and quickly changing to sharp fast movements. Also, the
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choreography went very well with the music. The music was more melodic and therefore the

dance contained phrasing and emphasis that went along with that type of music. Yet, there were

undertones of sharp movements which added diversity to the dance.

There were also some weaknesses such as the costumes, the technique of the dancers, and

the emotional impact of the dancers. For one, I did not like the big orange wavy pants and the

sleeveless shirts. I felt that the costumes did not fit very well with the dance. The technique of

the dancers was not the best I have seen. They needed to work on pointing their feet, relaxing

their shoulders, and relaxing their arms. Lastly, I did not like that they were smiling through the

whole dance because the smiles did not feel genuine and because of that, the piece did not impact

me emotionally.

I think the technical leg and arm gestures gave a different meaning to the dance by

making it less emotion laden and loose limbed than most contemporary pieces I have seen lately.

In my opinion the choreographer's intent was to bring out musical texture through the

choreography and make it less about sentiment and back-story. This might be why it was not my

favorite piece because I am used to seeing so many dances that are more freelance. I think the

dance was very different and perhaps it caught me by surprise.

I also noticed that there were not any individual or group tricks in the piece which is

something that is commonly used. As I said before, I did not recognize any real emotion coming

from the dancers and there did not seem to be a theme or back story to the dance. This dance

almost reminded me of the military dance that we performed at Weaver. To elaborate, there was

no emotional background and the movements were there to make the piece aesthetically

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The title of the second piece was "When The Bough Breaks". This piece was

choreographed by Kristi Johnson in 2010. Kristi Johnson studied at many different colleges such

as Louisiana State University, Texas Christian University, and Jacksonville University. Presently,

she is a part of the dance faculty at North Carolina Central University, the creator of The Triangle

Dance Project, and the director of TRANSLATIONS, a contemporary company. Brittany Harlan,

Jessi Knight, and Jaylun Moore were the three performers.

This dance had many strengths, and the overall dance was a lot better than the first one.

The quality of movement added so much meaning to the dance because each movement had a

specific intention. As an audience member, I could see that each dancer was telling a story in her

own way. Of course, the technique and the costumes were very pleasing to the eye, but what

really amazed me was the feeling that went along with the movements. The movements were not

just coming from the bodies of the dancers, but from their souls. This is what had me on the edge

of my seat and gave me goose bumps by the end. This is also what made me remember this

dance more than any other.

I really did not see any weaknesses in this dance. There was one moment when the

dancers almost fell out of their poses, but the rest of the dance was so pleasing that I almost

forgot about the very minor slip. I think the choreographer's intent was to show the different

relationships between people. For example, there were moments where one person would try to

go somewhere, but the other two people would block her. Then there were moments when they

would all help each other. I think this was a very cool idea because anyone watching this dance

could relate to these scenarios. The audience could relate its own story to the dance and I think

this is key to making a really amazing piece.

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I think this contemporary piece is more similar to the pieces that are performed today in

that it has a lot of meaning and is filled with emotion. Also it was more of a group piece,

meaning the dancers relied on each other and moved as one. They also used a lot of group lifts

and tricks which is something that is used popularly in contemporary dance currently. I think the

message behind this dance was to show the effects of different relationships especially those that

are codependent. I saw this theme throughout the entire dance because when one dancer was

falling or struggling to do something, there was always another person helping them get through

the movements. This symbolized a real life relationship where one might be struggling with an

illness or addiction and the other person in the relationship is constantly there to help them.

The last piece that I critiqued was entitled "Phasings" which was choreographed by Eric

Mullis and performed by Eric Mullis himself, Hanna Blackwell, Brittany Skala, and Savannah

Schoenborn. Mullis has studied Tai Chi and Chinese martial arts in the United States, Beijing,

and Taiwan. He attends the Dance MFA program at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and

accompanies dance classes at American Dance Festival and at the Charlotte Ballet. Lastly, he is a

Professor of Philosophy at Queens University of Charlotte.

This dance had some strengths and weaknesses. The idea of the dance was cool where

each person danced individually but the movements ended up coming together. Also I really

liked how the music was made up of two completely different songs. One song had a dreamy feel

to it with the strumming of a guitar while the other was a hip hop song made of grittier sounds

and vocals. The dancers reflected this by moving to the sounds in different ways and almost

letting the music tell them what to do. When the guitar was playing, their movements were more

velvety and when the hip hop was playing, their movements were more acute.
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There were also some weaknesses to the dance. Although the overall piece had good

intentions, it got boring after a while because it was so long and the dancers were doing repeated

movements. Also, it did not help that all of the dancers' faces were expressionless. I know that

this was the choreographer's intention and that he did not want the audience members to see the

personalities of the dancers and just let the movements control the dancers, but to the audience it

came across as boring and without energy. Lastly, the technique of the dancers wasn't amazing.

They all had to work on pointing their toes, relaxing their shoulders and letting the movements

flow into each other. I have realized though, that most of the contemporary pieces in the show

did not focus on technique but on the intentions of the movements and the underlying message of

the choreography.

This piece reminded me of the Cunningham style, because it was very rigorous and

depersonalized even though it did not actually use the Cunningham technique. It was cool to see

that aesthetic in a piece without actually using the Cunningham technique. I think the theme of

this dance was objectivity because the dancers performed the movements without any emotion so

the audience could see the dance for itself.