Hope College’s Department of Dance kicked off Dance 43 last weekend on March 3 and 4. The performance took place at the Knickerbocker Theatre in downtown Holland and featured student dancers.
Department Chair, Matthew Farmer, explained the event’s theme in the program notes, writing, “Tonight the Dance Department celebrates 43 years of presenting works to the Holland community, and in doing so, contemplates this very idea of balance in our world.”
He went on to discuss that the seven choreographers whose work is featured in the show were given the subject of “open space” to guide their creativity.
“They share with us the purity of dance without the traditional wings and curtains to bask behind-the-scene preparations,” Farmer wrote.
This was easily seen at the start of the event, as the first dance entitled “Ghost Light” began with the dancers raising curtains to reveal the wing and backstage area to the audience. The only prop onstage was a light stand.
William Charles Crowley, choreographer of the show, explained in the program notes that the prop was inspired by theatre lore, which states that “a ghost light is left on in the theatre at night to invite benevolent spirits in and keep mischievous spirits at bay.”
The first group of dancers performed as these “benevolent” spirits, performing traditional ballet moves around the light in white, flowing dresses.
Steven Iannacone’s piece titled “…ghostlight…” explored the more mischievous spirits, as dancers performed disjointed, pulsing movements onstage. At one point dancers even filled the theatre with menacing laughter.
Choreographers drew inspiration from artistic quotes as well. For example, M. Linda Graham’s piece titled “The River” consisted of two movements. In her program notes, she cited a Leonardo da Vinci quote as guiding the creativity behind the dance.
Similarly Crystal Frazier’s piece “Pure as Sin” was inspired by Proverbs 28:13, which urges followers of Christ to embrace confession. The dance featured seven dancers portraying the seven deadly sins. In the deep red stage light, one dancer playing the role of a puppet mistress controlled their movements.
As the narrative progressed, another dancer portraying “Purity” fell trap to the Sins’ advances. Frazier used a variety of music in the piece, ranging from Hans Zimmer to Beyoncé.
Angie Yetzke’s piece “Under the Blue Sun” relied on more 40s, big band-style music. Dancers grooved to songs by Sun Ra and Henry Threadgill. Blue was replaced by red lights during an intense drum breakdown before returning to the dancers’ more fluid and soulful movements.
Hope students will be performing in Dance 43 again this weekend on March 9, 10 and 11 at the Knickerbocker, which is located on 100 E. Eighth Street. Every show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Regular admission tickets are $10 and senior citizens can purchase tickets for $7. All student and children tickets for the performance are free.