The performance opened with a parody of a ballet class, choreographed by LilaAnn Coates White. This piece was presented in three parts scattered throughout the show. The remarkable Erin Clark had great technique. Clark always used a good hold (external rotation of the hips), stretched well through the legs and demonstrated smooth movement.
“The Big Scare in the Big Easy”, choreographed by Willa Gulstrand, another parody, was reminiscent of the 1970s cartoon Scooby Doo. Lighting designer Braden Kowalski did a great job bringing bold vintage geometric shapes to the backdrop that framed the dancers nicely.
An interesting piece, “Hotel California”, choreographed by Bettie Schultz, had very beautiful choreographic elements. The body began in a semi-silhouette in two rows with a left side lighting of the stage. Along with most of the dancers in black, the one woman in red stood out nicely in contrast. This room had a nice port de bras (port des bras) while filling the space well. While I can understand why Schultz chose the introductory acoustic guitar version of the music, the live recording with the sounds of the audience was awkward for the piece itself.
The playful “Go Big or Go Home”, choreographed by Jaclyn Nessett, was a lot of fun to watch. The dancers had good energy on stage, but sometimes seemed to be waiting for the music. Lighting designer Andrew Norfolk almost used his lighting as a percussion medium that helped the scene come to life.
“Day by Day” was the strongest tap piece on the show, choreographed by Danielle Mattson and Matthew Wagner. Mattson, who performed “Day by Day” with clear, loud sounds, kept a great time with his fast riffs and pullbacks. Kylee Berude’s “Exile” was by far the cleanest and best performed choreographic work. The movement contained both axial and locomotor movements, good use of space and relationships between dancers, and even energy. Overall a great room.
The 218 dancers of the Dance Project stole the show. The pint-sized dancers performed a lyrical piece that blew me away. With the choreographic genius of Courtney LaPlante, the stretchy little dancers have jumped, twisted and spun artfully beyond their age.
All in all, it was an enjoyable show which showcased the work of the professors, students and guest artists. The costumes and lighting helped to highlight the story and the atmosphere created. The show offered a great variety of ballets, contemporary, lyrical and tap dance. However, all the spoken parts were very difficult to hear and an insert was missing with the names of the guest artists and choreographers.
If you are going to:
Or: Marshall UMD Performing Arts Center
When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets: tickets.umn.edu or at the door $ 5 – $ 20
Kelly Sue Coyle reviews dance performances for the Duluth Newsstand.