MaDaCol performance distinguishes dance as alternative communication medium
Issue date: 4/23/10 Section: Focus
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MaDaCol showcases graduate dance students' work once a semester in the Mather Dance Center. MaDaCol's latest show took place last weekend and ran from Thursday, April 15 to Saturday, April 17 for four performances, with each one selling out quickly. There were 44 performers in this incarnation of the showcase. Amy Christianson, a first year student at CWRU says that she joined the Dance Collective as a club and quickly became involved. "It doesn't matter what program you're in, or if you've had any formal training," she said. "Anyone can do it. We have faculty, alumni, and grad students as performers. Anyone can become a dancer." The Mather Dance Collective starts preparation for the bi-annual show at the beginning of the semester and practices for two hours together every Sunday.
"At the beginning of practices, the dancers must decide on which piece they will perform," said Christianson. There were five choreographers for this showcase, including CWRU graduate students Michelle Blanton, Sherry Harper, and Rachel Stoneking, as well as long time performer Deb Carlson-Klain. MaDaCol was especially excited about showcasing returning alumnus DeWitt Cooper III as he premiered his new work A Hymn for Survival, a tribute to the people suffering in Haiti. "A lot of MaDaCol members have participated in and supported the production for many years," says Christianson. "[Cooper's] piece incorporated many of these members into the dance as personal thanks for their dedication to the program."
The other four pieces concentrated on themes of discovery, enlightenment, the bonds between women, and audience confrontation with things that seem unreal or crazy. Rachel Stoneking's Once I Was Blind was a standout, choreographed to music by Imogen Heap and Sigur Ros. Light and dark played a large part in the piece, with small globes standing for the enlightenment and self-actualization that the "blinded" performers sould not see as the piece opened, but which became apparent to them throughout the performance. Visually, it was one of the most interesting performances.
Comings and Goings, choreographed by Sherry Harper, was one of the more lighthearted and fun performances. However, even under its fluffy surface there still lay meaning in the work. "Comings and Goings represented the relationships that mothers and daughters as well as sisters have with one another and how these feminine bonds can transcend to dance. It was about how even though we come and go into people's lives, women are always impacted by one another," said Christianson, who performed in the piece. The passage of time and representation of relationships in history was represented through the musical arrangement, which started with a Beethoven concerto and transitioned to music by R&B artist Robin Thicke. The arrangement was engineered by Scott R. Jacobs.
While all of the MaDaCol performances were based around modern dance and were all a sampling of progressive dance, Frak-chered…Consciousness by Michelle Blanton directly challenged the audience more than her peers' work. The performance centered on the occupants of an asylum, as dancers started out marching like soldiers and subsequently degenerating into psychosis. The audience had to work to figure out what was happening in this performance, and some were not entirely sure what to think at the end. A quote from Albert Einstein was included in the program to help explain: "A human being is a part of a whole…a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, his feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of the consciousness. This delusion is a type of prison for us…."
MaDaCol is one of the reasons that the performing arts are expanding to the Tifereth Israel Temple; there are too many talented performers and choreographers throughout campus to be confined to the Mather Dance Center. More than anything else, MaDaCol offers a distinct alternative to more traditional forms of communication. Forget talking and writing, and step into something more interpretive: dance.