After seeing the premiere of “Works-a-Foot 2016,” it is clear why Montclair State’s dance program was ranked number five in the country this year. There is something so raw and incredibly mesmerizing about the dancers, as well as the choreography the dance department presents, and “Works-a-Foot 2016” was no exception.
The night began with a captivating piece titled “Mad Rush.” The piece began with two dancers on stage dressed in all white, gracefully moving in sync with one another. Slowly, more dancers began to join the duo on stage. The dancers moved fluidly and beautifully around one another, almost reminiscent of a school of fish. Somehow, their bodies were able to flow and rush past each other without a single crash, leaving the audience captivated by their ability to accomplish perfect coordination.
The dancers were accompanied by a piano player whose music suited the movement of the piece perfectly. With such a wonderful selection starting off the night, the rest of the pieces had a lot to live up to.
If you are a fan of Earl Mosley’s choreography, his piece “Journey Men I” will definitely be a standout. On Thursday night, the crowd cheered as the entirely-male ensemble powered through this strong and energizing piece, never skipping a beat. The piece was accompanied with dramatic lighting and a smoke effect that set the mood and left the audience feeling the power of the dancers.
While I personally have never considered dance a humorous art form, the final piece of the first act changed my mind. The piece, titled “Undone,” featured six dancers who all appeared to be chickens, or rather, some type of bird, protecting their eggs. The dancers were borderline obsessed with keeping their eggs safe, and when one dancer let her egg fall and break on the stage, the dancers screamed. Slowly, each began to realize they did not have to protect their eggs and could instead throw them to the ground, causing them to explode in a dramatic fashion. Each dancer-bird crushed her egg until there were only two dancers left, who also decided to maliciously hurl their eggs to the floor. The dance was hysterical and left the audience in a silly mood to close out the first act.
The most interesting piece of the night was the premiere of Christian von Howard’s “to the teeth.” The dance began with five dancers on stage, standing in the pitch black, holding bright lights in their hands. The dancers turned on and off their lights in time with the music, which was a series of gasps and breaths. As the piece went on, the dancers abandoned their handheld lights and the lights on stage rose to a dim. The dancers began to move very convulsively, and due to this as well as their long, black costumes, it almost appeared as if they were either witches performing a ritual or possessed. The piece was very interesting to watch and left me wanting to learn more.
The night was a perfect display of all of the amazing things Montclair State’s dance department is doing. Some pieces were confusing, some were beautiful, but all were extremely fun to watch. “Works-a-Foot 2016” can be seen at Memorial Auditorium Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.