Author: Grace Srinivasan
Friday, November 3rd 2023, students of Hope College and H2 dance company put on a phenomenal fall performance at the Knickerbocker Theatre in downtown Holland. The historical and well-known knickerbocker theater was built in 1911 by Hope College to accommodate the people of Holland. The performance was choreographed by Sharon Wong, Mathew Farmer, and Jasmine Meija. It was guest choreographed by Kristen Farmer.
The performers were Jennifer Almquist, Kylea Canada, Zoey Cappatocio, Kailoni Christian, Maureen Cole, Jordan Dillabough, Maggie Hartman, Mackenzie Kellogg, Claire Knodel, Abby Mains, Taryn Meyer, Morgan Mohler, Sloane Provost, Shannon Rodriguez, Cali Smith, Miranda Stepchuk and Madeline Williams.
A slower ballet dance was the first dance style. The dancers were wearing ballet shoes and tan leotards. Their movements of grace and delicacy mesmerized the audience. It conveyed a tale. The audience was enthralled with the piece, which was highly telling. Their execution demonstrated how deliberate and practiced they were. One violin piece of contrasting rapid and slow speeds from the orchestra served as the music for this number. Their twirls enthralled the crowd as their exquisite, beautiful moves filled the stage and they hopped from one spot to another. The dancers displayed their exquisite talent and were in perfect harmony with each other. This inaugural show was a beautiful start to the evening.
One dancer in the Stretto piece, Madeline Williams (‘24), expressed that she “loved the graceful ballet elements of Stretto… that was a really fun piece for me to perform because I don’t usually perform such classical pieces so it was fun to work on a light and graceful piece.” This piece was choreographed by Matthew Farmer and Williams was also in the Elan Vital number choreographed by Kristen Farmer. On working with Kristen Farmer, Williams said“Kristen’s pushed me to the max with challenging choreography and having to have a strong and captivating performance amongst a difficult cardio set.” As a senior, this is Williams last season of dancing for H2 and the Hope theatre department. She said “It was really fun to do a full company piece and to dance with all my friends for the last time at the Knickerbocker. It was really a full circle moment for me.” Another dancer in Kristen Farmer’s piece, Morgan Mohler (‘24), found that “for Kristen’s piece it was definitely very strong and refreshing to dance in a more jazz and contemporary style with more hard hitting elements.”
Jennifer Almquist (‘24) was also in the Kristen and Matthew Farmer pieces as well as Sharon Wong’s “We’re Just Getting Started” which channeled the 1960s with their vibrant, retro costumes. The costumes range from vibrant gowns to flowing jeans with wide legs. Almquist stated that “the audience seemed to really appreciate the variety in the dance styles and we got a lot of great feedback on the performance.” There was greater vigor and positivity in the movements. It was evident from their animated facial expressions that the dancers were having a blast performing. The performers’ vibrant outfits, updos, and heels truly contributed to the overall professional performance impression.
The dance piece following the show’s seven minute intermission was “Who’s Game”, choreographed by Jasmine Mejia in collaboration with the dancers. The costumes for this piece contained a sports theme, representing a variety of uniforms from athletics such as softball, football, basketball, track, soccer and gymnastics. The dancers were singled out to showcase their skills in each sports suit while the music began slowly. It amused the audience immensely while conveying the message that every sport is important. Mohler, who not only danced in both Farmer pieces, also performed in “Who’s Game” and said that “for Who’s Game I think it was a new, fresh take on what dance and art can be… it was a refreshing experience to learn and it was a fun experience to work with my other cast mates.” In general for the H2 performances, Mohler declared “I had a great time performing with the entire cast and to dance alongside everyone in the entire company. The movement was very interesting and different. Its uniqueness made me excited to perform it.”
Dancer Cali Smith (‘24) also performed in the Who’s Game piece. She stated that “the show was super diverse and had something everyone can enjoy. It was nice to showcase that we are all very diverse dancers who can do very different styles. I was a rehearsal assistant for one dance, and it was nice to be able to step into that leadership role in the company. After being in the company for three years, I felt like I really understood [the choreographers]. I am going to miss working with them.”