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Pliés-ing to the eyes

The master of fine arts program held their homecoming concert at the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater on campus over the weekend in honor of the program’s 20th anniversary, which was this past spring.

The concert started out with the premier performance of contemporary dance “Wade,” choreographed by alumnus Jessica Kondrath. The press release described “Wade” as exploring surface tension in and on water.

The crimson rose petals scattered on the floor, although seemingly unnecessary, were a gorgeous contrast to the nude-colored costumes the dancers were wearing.

MFA student Kathleen Helm, who danced in “Wade,” said this was a fairly difficult dance because one small mistake would “throw the whole thing off.” The dance involved holding certain positions for extended amounts of time. Helm said if any dancer fell out of an “extension or movement,” it would be obvious to the audience.

“Hereafter,” choreographed by Kim T. Davis, was by far the strongest piece in the first act. The piece explored the dynamics between each of the five dancers, according to the press release.

The flowing white attire created seamless movements contrasted with strong tension on stage. Even without a real plot line, the dancers created such personality and humanity within these dance moves.

“Fireline” created the darkness and isolation associated with female exploitation, and was very strong and impressive to the untrained eye.

However, it was difficult to feel a connection to the piece. This was perhaps due to the high abstractness and disjointed music selection.

“Romp Show” premiered opening night, October 16, of the MFA Homecoming concert, the dance was directed and choreographed by Kathleen Helm.
Gregory RR Cosby
“Romp Show” premiered opening night, October 16, of the MFA Homecoming concert, the dance was directed and choreographed by Kathleen Helm.

Carina Hodgins, a senior dance major, who performed in “Fireline,” the opening dance for the second act, said she originally wanted to dance in “Hereafter.” She was able to direct “Hereafter” as well as “Flood.” She said balancing directing with practicing the choreography for “Fireline” made for a stressful several months.

The final performance, “Romp Show,” was different from every other piece; it had a spunky and fun personality fueled by tons of energy and a great cast of dancers.

The characterization of the dancers, especially the male characters performed by Jack Taylor and Jobel Medina, had such personality and cheekily interacted with the audience. Medina even had his own solo in which he literally walked on the backs of his competitors to the song “The Most Beautiful Girl,” by Charlie Rich.

The premier of this high-energy performance was an excellent way to end the show, leaving viewers excited and bubbly moods.

Helm, the director and choreographer of “Romp Show,” said it was inspired by the winter 2014 Olympics and the competitive nature of sports. The performance was reminiscent of 1950’s beach culture, including high-waist bathing suite –esque costumes and big-brass show tunes like “The Dumber They Come, The Better I Like ‘Em,” by Eddie Cantor.

This piece was part of Helm’s grade as an MFA student. She said she is graded on everything, from moves selected, to the execution of her original thesis’ intentions.

The MFA alumni choreographed five of the six individual dances in the homecoming concert. The premier of “Romp Show,” choreographed by MFA student Kathleen Helm was the final show. Students in the dance department directed and danced in each of the performances.

This concert allowed not-so-seasoned dancers to take the stage. Hodgins said, due to the extensive practice schedule over summer, many of the more experienced dancers were unavailable to try out.

The next dance concert will be in November. “Fusion” will be a collaborative effort with the music department.

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