Dance showcase doesn’t disappoint

“Under Construction” features a wide variety of choreography and subject matter.

Kelly Holm, Reporter

Hamline Dance Theatre opened their fall showcase, Under Construction, in Anne Simley Theatre on Friday, Dec. 1, with another performance the following day. Advertised as “A Work in Progress,” director Kaori Kenmotsu wrote that “All of the works presented… are in various stages of development… what they are presenting tonight are unfinished and raw movement nuggets.”

“Raw” is certainly a word that could summarize the showcase- in most numbers, no costumes are worn, only plain black shirts and stretch pants, a choice that adds to the vulnerable nature of the choreography: without the trappings of glitz and glamour, audience members are forced to draw their attention to the fervent emotions personified in each number.

From the upbeat (“Get in Line,” set to the tunes of the Preservation Jazz Band) to the political (“POTUS Folkdance,” accompanied by everything from Brahms to electro-pop) to the intimate (“Wayward Dinosaur,” featuring no background music at all), the dancers dabbled in a plethora of styles and themes.

Each number tells a different story, reminding viewers that the show isn’t just dubbed “dance theatre” because it takes place in a theatre, but rather, the dancers act out scenes just as dramatic as those that could be found in a Broadway musical. Unlike a stage play, however, dance theatre has no audible script and conveys no explicit plot or message, often leaving the audience to guess exactly what the scenario is supposed to be in each specific number.

While it is easy to guess the meaning of a few pieces- “POTUS Folkdance”, for example, is clearly a parody of the Trump administration- the themes of most dances remain mysteries to be solved based on the clues in their choreography, titles, and song selections.

One such standout was an untitled piece near the beginning of the show,  performed by the Dance 1 class. Directed by Kenmotsu and Judith James Ries, this piece is considerably more lighthearted than many of its peers. The dancers are decked out in vibrant hues rather than the standard ebony. With Coldplay’s carefree hit “Adventure of a Lifetime” blaring in the background, the dancers brought to mind images of children giddily frollicking on a summer’s day, and the moves seemed to resemble youthful games such as tug-of-war and jump rope.

Other selections tackled weightier topics such as death, captivity, and domestic violence.  “Honey Don’t You Dare” delved into the dynamics of an abusive relationship. Juniors Peter Villerius and Elsa Flom portray a couple who, wracked by negative self-esteem and codependency, viciously mistreat each other only to experience guilt later. The song choice, a slow violin cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” only made the piece eerier. “Deceiving the Canonical Five” is similarly macabre. Senior Kalie Coyle is dressed as the grim reaper, leading the unsuspecting to their deaths- some willingly and some only after a fight.

In “Stockholm,” featuring junior Hannah Hoeger, sophomore Ashley Nelson and junior Jessica Yang, two characters exert power over a third, who appears to be their captive. While this piece is named after the accompanying song, one can’t help but wonder if the tune was chosen to symbolize Stockholm Syndrome.

Featuring 18 different numbers, “Under Construction” seemed to cover all the bases- but it’s only first semester, and they’re just getting started. The ensemble looks forward to competing at the American College Dance conference in Madison, Wis., this coming March, and is preparing for “(E)motion,” their second-semester showcase in May.