Audiences travel through time with throwback and modern dances


By Samantha Brandbergh

Rider Dance Ensemble (RDE) left all its emotions onstage during the closing night of its spring showcase, “All We Are,” on April 17.

The show was packed with 24 dances, ranging from contemporary to tap, and for 12 graduating seniors, this performance was the last of their college careers.

With the Bart Luedeke Center Theater nearly filled, the lights dimmed and the music thumped as the opening number, “Black Cat,” began. Choreographed by Kayla James, the five dancers, appropriately dressed in all black and blanketed in dark red lights, delivered an energetic performance that set the tone for the rest of the night.

The energy stayed high as Laura Eisler, Hayley Fahey and Samantha Giallanza tapped their way onto the stage to perform “You Really Did It,” dressed in denim and flannel shirts. The piece, choreographed by Fahey, was definitely the most up-tempo performance from the first half of the showcase, making one think the dancers could set the stage on fire from the swift taps.

The mood shifted, however, with the performance of “Sound and Color,” choreographed by Samantha Plant. The lighting throughout this piece related directly to the title; emerald green lights illuminated the stage and faded to purple as the bass pounded, and then red as the song drew to a close. The dancers, Ashley Alvarez, Christy Box, Christine DiBrita, Melissa Exler and Plant kept their dance moves sharp and synchronized to the music, never missing a beat.

Choreographed by Mia Bowyer, “What Do You Desire?” was the stand-out performance of the first half. Alexandria Barna, Dana Conklin and Allison Juardo effortlessly performed the contemporary and ballet piece set to the speech, “What If Money Was No Object,” by philosopher and writer Alan Watts.

The words spoken in this piece covered topics relatable to the audience such as, “Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, ‘We’re getting out of college and we don’t have the faintest idea what we want to do,’ So I always ask the question, ‘What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?’”

The white lights and fluid movements of the dancers highlighted the messages spoken, allowing the audience to ponder these questions.

The final performance of the first half featured all 44 dancers, who looked like they just came out of a time machine. Titled “Back to the ’80s,” the piece featured a mash-up of many popular tunes from that time, including “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson and “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell. Adorned with brightly-colored crop tops and leg warmers, all of the dancers looked like they were having the time of their lives on stage. The fun number ended with “Don’t You” by Simple Minds, while the dancers raised their fists in the air, similar to the iconic scene from “The Breakfast Club.”

The second half of the showcase included the second tap number, “Trashin’ the Camp,” choreographed by Victoria Newkirk. The tune from Tarzan is a scat, and the 12 dancers’ energy matched the song perfectly. The use of newspapers, garbage can lids and brooms was a great touch, making the piece even more enjoyable for the audience and interactive for the dancers.

The crowd was then taken to the future with the electronic performance of “MilleniallZ,” choreographed by Amira Davis. “‘MilleniallZ’ is about a generation that is run by electronics,” Davis noted in the event program. “As a generation, they have become robots, dolls and overall puppets to electronics and the creators.” The “puppeteers” of the performance were two dancers wearing white bowties. The electronic music fit well with the theme and story of the dance, which included dark red and purple lights that changed with every beat in the song.

The closing number of the night, “Let It Go,” which featured three graduating seniors and was choreographed by Box, proved to be an emotional one. Wearing flowy red dresses, the seven dancers occasionally moved in small groups, but all joined hands at the end, as the lights faded to black. “Let It Go” was a relaxing end to a night sprinkled with high energy performances.

Between high-speed tap numbers and futuristic footwork, “All We Are” was a terrific display of talents, allowing the seniors to take their final bow with pride.

Printed in the 4/20/16 edition.

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