Pliés and taps, plus spunk and sass, lifts spirits and leaves audience captivated

By Samantha Brandbergh

Empowering, lively and theatric are just a few words to describe the dances that graced the stage at Rider Dance Ensemble’s (RDE’s) fall showcase, “As the Leaves Turn,” on Nov. 20-22.

With the BLC Theater nearly packed, music bumped through the speakers as the audience eagerly waited for the show to begin on Nov. 20.

Directors and RDE’s president, junior elementary education and dance major Taylor Miller, and vice president, junior arts administration major Jessica Spinosa, gave a brief introduction before the dancers took the stage, declaring that the showcase is “sure to be the most memorable show of the year.” The opening number, “Hit and Run,” choreographed by junior marine sciences major Miranda Rosen, featured six female dancers adorned in black tutus.

The dance, which featured just the right amount of sass and spunk, set the tone for the rest of the show.

“As The Leaves Turn” featured 24 exciting and diverse pieces, ranging from emotional and powerful, to high-energy tap dances, such as “Saturday Night’s Alright,” choreographed by sophomore journalism major Hayley Fahey, whose bright smile never left her face while on stage.

The tone instantly changed when dancers freshman musical theater major Briana Abbott, sophomore environmental sciences major Victoria Cruz, junior elementary education and history major Julie Koval and freshman business administration major Victoria Miller took the stage to perform “Wicked Games,” a passionate and moving piece choreographed by sophomore elementary education and dance major Christine DiBrita. Although the dance was a group performance, each dancer got her own moment to shine, where the beautifully executed choreography could be on display.

Various pieces in the showcase allowed the music and choreography to go hand-in-hand, especially during “The Cave,” choreographed by senior elementary education and dance major Christy Box.

The dance gave off a tranquil vibe at the start, with a blue hue falling over the stage. As the song’s tempo elevated and the stage’s glow turned red, the dancers picked up the pace, not missing a beat.

The closing number of the first part of the showcase was the triumphant “Jai Ho,” choreographed by junior biology major Jennifer Cabrera and Rosen.

The Bollywood-influenced piece featured all 57 dancers, making the jam-packed stage look like a flurry of limbs. The high-energy dance featured an array of styles, highlighting the tap dancers previously featured in the showcase.

“Jai Ho” was the perfect way to close out the first half of the showcase, leaving the audience still on a high even after the curtain went down.

The second half contained a few dark and haunting pieces, including the eerie “Rule the World,” choreographed by sophomore dance and arts administration major Courtney Booker and sophomore theater and dance performance major Amira Davis, and “I’m Gonna Get You,” choreographed by sophomore arts administration and dance major Amanda Martinelli, in which the six female dancers wore black eye masks, adding to the mystery of the piece.

Two highlights of this part of the showcase were contrasting in styles, but equal in execution.

“Cell Block Tango,” choreographed by junior dance major Amanda Page, reflected the Broadway classic, with each dancer portraying a “character” in the dance.

Although the song featured more talking than singing, the RDE dancers managed to make the dance charismatic and flirty, earning cheers from the audience.

“Dancin’ Fool,” choreographed by junior theater major Kylie McDonald, on the other hand, was a lively, old-school piece that could have been taken right off the Broadway stage.

With all of the dancers perfectly in sync, the performance was a seamless blend of modern dance and tap, earning the loudest applause of the night.

During “As the Leaves Turn,” the RDE dancers made the physically demanding choreography of all 24 dances look easy.

Whether it was pulling on the audience’s heartstrings with the emotional lyrical dances, or making them dance in their seats with the toe-tapping numbers, “As the Leaves Turn,” proved to be a diverse and memorable showcase.

 

Published in the 12/2/15 edition.

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