Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Dance 45. – You don’t need to be the Avatar to enjoy this show

Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Hope College Dance Department premiered their 45th annual showcase the weekend of March 1. Dance 45: “The Elements” featured fifty-two talented Hope students, and dances were choreographed by Hope faculty and guest artists alike. The showcase is comprised of seven dances total, each one successfully capturing its own unique rhythm and emotion. Elements is the prevailing theme of Dance 45, and this is present in every performance. Prepare to find yourself entranced by dancers spinning through the sand and contemplative as students express the agonies of U.S. prisoners in overcrowded prisons.

What all these dances have in common is their integral use of elements of nature, as well as the human condition. “I think the elements were able to bring out a power behind what the audience felt,” says sophomore and Dance Major Liv Panozzo. “We are natural beings, we have natural bodies, so connecting that to what nature really does was very important.” Panozzo took part in “The Most Perfect Day,” a dance that utilized water. Like some of the other dances, this one took the elemental theme to heart and had water falling to the Knickerbocker Theatre stage, an artificial rain under which Panozzo and others performed their choreographed number. “They worked for a while on it to decide what would be dangerous for the floor and all that, but what they didn’t realize was how slippery it would be, so that was fun the first rehearsal, when all of us fell,” Panozzo laughs.

“The more water that’s on the stage, the harder it is to stay on your feet. Over time, the accidental slips really became a part of the choreography. You never knew when they would happen, but you’d adapt to them. So it wasn’t really an accident because that’s the spirit of the piece. It adds this extra element of fun.” Despite heavily incorporating the aspect of rain, the true meaning of this piece resonates with a more profound layer of the heart. “The piece itself is not necessarily about water. The piece itself is about whatever each of us made it into. We were really big on intention; what’s important to you? What do you want the audience to feel? What do you want each other to feel? For me, it was about putting my love into the wrong places and then finally finding that one person, that one god, that one thing, that gives it back in a healthy way: the most pure, wonderful form of love,” Panozzo clarifies.

This was true for all seven of the group’s dances; the elements are present, but it’s up to the audience to find their own meaning in the pieces. During this performance, you are encouraged to notice the connections being made on the stage, and to interpret those as you see fit. There is a story behind every moment, as Panozzo points out; “This concert was very personal for each of the choreographers. Each of their works captured a piece of what they have gone through and experienced, and I think that was important.” Dance 45: “The Elements” continues this weekend, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on March 7-9 in the Knickerbocker Theatre. From start to finish, this show was enticingly creative and is sure to entertain the whole audience. But if you would rather not be splashed with water or hit by sand, refrain from sitting in the first few rows.

Zach Dankert ('21) is one of the Campus Co-Editors at the Anchor.

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