Simply Innovative: Dance program walks the walk (beautifully)

by Guest Blogger

Dancer Shanna Wiggins '14 shares her experience watching Dance Program Spring Performances 2012. Performances continue 8 p.m. March 30 and 31 at Farkas Hall.

As I took my seat on the opening night of Dance Program Spring Performances 2012, I was immediately struck by the stage. The front curtain wasn't closed, as is customary before a performance, and even though the stage was dark I could tell that there weren't any curtains onstage at all. There was nothing separating the audience from the bare stage, a visual representation of the boundaries that were broken throughout the entire show.

The program is divided into three parts, and each flowed seamlessly into the next, and elements from one piece were echoed in another. It was exciting for me to recognize signature elements of dance director Jill Johnson's movement vocabulary, such as inverted port des bras and intricate, detailed gestures. I've personally experienced these methods of moving throughout my first year of working with Johnson, and it was comforting to see familiar moments in the midst of a show so new and ground-breaking.

Although the performance overall were innovative, I think that even non-dancers could relate to many of the individual movements, as the performance incorporated pedestrian steps alongside stylized dance techniques. Some of the most captivating moments were simple walking patterns that the dancers created throughout all three pieces. This commonplace movement was infinitely more interesting onstage: It was as exciting to see different ways each dancer migrated across the stage as it was to see them unite to perform more complicated choreography.

[Caption: Jill Johnson's "The Sound of Distance in Itself" PHOTO: Liza Voll]