The Last Chance to Dance concert by University of Arizona students is one of the highlights for the school of dance department as it summarizes what the students have been learning. The whole event is important to both the students and the school faculty because of the message it communicates to the viewers. It can show high or low quality skills acquired by students throughout the course or it can show a competent or incompetent department faculty. The fluidity and collaboration among the dancers, the relationship between the dance and the music, the stage setup and the mixed feelings evoked by the performances are the key areas of criticism by the viewers.
The Last Chance to Dance concert by University of Arizona students on December 5 2017 at Gitting 124/130 is an event held towards the graduation of every group of students at the final year of their studies. It acts as a means of evaluating the students by the lecturers to establish whether they have acquired the necessary skills throughout course. For this reason, the students in school of dance final year class are the one who have showcased their performances in the concert. Everything presented in the event from the beginning until the end was done by the students including the choice of the venue and creation of the advertising brochures. Therefore, the dance performances are new works composed and performed by the students. The faculty may have helped with ideas and resources but their main goal was to evaluate each performance.
The selection of the songs for the dance performance in the concert is from professional artists and not new works. It means that the students were not expected by school of dance to compose new songs. As I was going through the brochure, I had some level of confidence that the performance was going to be promising. All the songs belong to the pop genre, characterized by an upbeat and an energetic rhythm. Additionally, the main aim of the songs is being catchy with an array of dance moves. For this reason, it made me look forward to attend the event despite the fact the dance performance were new works composed by armatures. However, I had mixed feelings and my expectations were very low.
As one of the viewers, I did not have high expectation because the concert was done by amateurs (students) and not professional dancers. Unlike professional dancers, I expected the choreography of the dance pieces not to be of high quality. Although, the dancers might be synchronized with each other, I did not expect the movements to have a cordial relationship with the song. Additionally, I did not expect the dance acts to create an energetic mood due to the performance being in the evening. Additionally, both the viewers and the artists would be tired from doing their other daily activities. However, I expected the use of technology in the acts to raise the dance moves quality and the main theme. The lighting and video technology would be used to create a stage portraying the themes or attitudes of the song during performances. Even though it would add quality I did not expect that amazing feeling during the performances.
An hour before the starting of the event, I was surprised to see a line that was forming due to the increasing number of viewers. It showed that many viewers had high expectation that they were going to be entertained by the event. However, this did not affect my chances of securing one of the front row seats to have a better view of the dance routines since the sitting arrangement was based on first come first serve basis. Since the event was indoors and in the evening, it had proper ventilation and lighting. It avoided distractions that would result a person to miss an important dance and there were no replays. Moreover, it was not crowded yet it was filled to capacity by the time the event was starting.
To my surprise, throughout the event from the beginning to the end, the use of technology together with the routines was excellent. This made it easy to understand the theme of every piece, create mood and, at the same time, entertain the viewers. For instance, the piece A Glacier choreographed by Nicholas Bryan Lampson is about offering hope to a person in pain because of social injustice. Lampson uses a video clip showing pictures of a young genius girl suffering from bullying and negative victimization by her peers in schools relates well with the single female dancer who leans her head forward with fallen shoulders to signify sadness This creates a sad mood in the event and the viewers tend to feel sorry for the girl for the cruelty of the society.
Additionally, the use of technology highlights how the song relates with the dance routine. One can say that technology acts like a link between the relationship of the dancers and the songs. The song Hip Hip Chin Chin is a club mix showing that there is no life without a rhythm. In the dance act Oreganos choreographed by Natalie Clevenger and Emigdio Arredondo the use of moving light while switching on and off throughout the piece adds value to the dance by showing a change of dance moves by the dancers. On the other hand, the movement and the switching on and off lights act in a way to show the rhythm and tune of the song. This creates a vibrant and energetic mood. Contrary to my expectations, this portrays high level of quality and professional work.
The dances performances have a pattern all through the concert. No matter how the different pieces are arranged to follow each other, the concert evokes moral teaching about life to the viewers. For instance, one can see that life is like a Gameplay full of Hip Hip Chin Chin shown on A Glacier to portray the hurdles of life. It is not good to depend on others since They Dont Care About Us instead we must be Soledad. In this case, it shows that the difference dance routines are repetitive rhythm and a story when connected together they present a story. In addition, with the help of the pop songs, the dance performances create an energetic mood making it more entertaining for the viewers. As a result, the viewers are able to relate with the main theme of the concert.
However, the choreographers fail to portray raw talent in the presentation and performance of the different dance moves. First, the dance routines are not new or fresh production by the students. They are a selection of different moves in the current scene of entertainment. When one is watching the performances one after the other, suspense also reduces because it easy to predict what will happen in the subsequent pieces. In addition, the costumes did not do proper justice to complement the routine. The choreographers did not go out of their way to select costumes with a distinct taste that would attract the viewers eyes. When watching the performance one feels that he/she would select the same costumes for the performances if he/she is given an opportunity. It was only because of the routine the viewers would identify with the meaning of the costume rather than the other way round. As a viewer, I am not surprised because I would expect this from students and not from professional dancers.
Clearly, the effective application of technology and costumes in stage set up, the relationship between the dancers and the song, and the feelings presented by the dance performances are valuable in communicating the main theme to the viewers. It is worth to note that the interrelationship between this tools as used in choreography makes it easy for the viewer to follow through the routine and understand the meaning of the concert. Although the students failed to utilize costumes in their dance moves as expected, they superseded my expectation in the application of technology in their dance routines. They ended by creating a vibrant and energetic mood full of hope rather than a dull mood that I expected.
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