The stage was completely black, but shouting and singing emanated from the darkness. When the lights turned on, some audience members gasped at what they saw: a clump of dancers pushed together with eerie smiles on their faces.
Dressed in different variations of nude bodysuits, the dancers started to dance, jump and sing in circles around each other while holding the smiles on their faces.
The performance was part of Temple’s Faculty Dance Concert, held from Jan. 30-31, which featured work by the dance faculty of Boyer College of Music and Dance.
The performance, held at Conwell Dance Theater on Main Campus, included six pieces choreographed by Temple’s dance department faculty members including Merian Soto, Nora Gibson, Laura Katz Rizzo, Kariamu Welsh, Kun-Yang Lin, Jennifer Jessum and Jillian Harris.
The show’s grand finale featured guest artist Andrea Miller, the founder, artistic director and choreographer of New York-based contemporary company Gallim Dance Company. Students from the Temple dance department had the opportunity to audition for Miller’s piece, “Wonderland.”
After the audition in October, 15 students were chosen to participate in what is known as the January Residency. Students spent the last week of Winter Break learning and rehearsing excerpts from Miller’s piece to perform in the show.
“Wonderland” first premiered in 2010 in New York City and has been touring nationally and internationally since. Gallim’s inspiration for the piece was investigating pack mentality in humans and whether the mentality is instinctual or potentially dangerous.
Tal Adler, a member of Gallim Dance, was the rehearsal director for this piece and set the dance on the students during their January residency, from Jan. 5-9. One of the performers in the piece, junior dance major Taylor Grace, said it was a rewarding experience learning from Adler.
“[Adler], the man who set the piece on us, was amazing to work with,” Grace said. “He knows and understands the piece really well, so it was easy for him to help us understand the piece. I loved working with all of the other dancers too. We all had an amazing time together.”
The performance, which started out somewhat slow, quickly sped up with a change in the music as the dancers performed jumps, turns and holds – many of which, Grace said, required a great deal of practice.
“My favorite aspect of the piece is the athleticism,” Grace said. “Although the piece is not super technical, the motif behind the movement is very strong but exhausting. It gives the dance a really unique quality.”
Ayeisha Ramirez, a senior dance major at Temple, also said she enjoyed the distinct characteristics of the movement.
“My favorite aspect of this piece is how athletic and theatrical it is,” Ramirez said. “It was an exciting change from the dancing I do at Temple everyday and it was such a great experience working with everyone. If I had the chance to do it again I would in a heartbeat.”
Chelsey Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org