Starry lights illuminated the stage as the cast of Danceworks made its grand entrance into a world of splendor and magic.
Montclair State’s Department of Theatre and Dance put on a Peak Performance of Danceworks 2018, featuring an ensemble of promising young dancers who are not afraid to dream big or reach for the stars. With nine performances that kept the audience in rapture, the cast of Danceworks did a splendid job engaging with each other, physically as well as emotionally.
This year the dance routines performed were “Gift,” “RuM,” “Don’t Mess with Me,” “Horizon,” “Tensile Involvement,” “To Have and to Hold,” “Playing with Vivaldi,” “Simulacra” and “I See You.”
Every dance routine contained elements of surrealism and magic in not only the movements but also the costumes, music and visual effects. The performance that stood out the most was “I See You,” with the slick moves and the unique costumes of all the men and women dressed in black leather jackets and white shirts, grooving to the music. It was very engaging to see all the dancers interacting with each other onstage as well as offstage.
It was evident that the dancers were engaged with each other by not only their facial expressions, which seemed to be nothing but all smiles, but also with their postures and their physical contact with each other. One desirable quality of Danceworks was the lack of spoken dialogue throughout the performance, thus bringing out an element of charm and captivation to the audience.
Dance is the type of art in which one is free to express himself or herself via physical movement, and no words were needed to describe this gem of a performance. All the dancers seemed to know their material very well, and everything was on cue.
The bowing and holding of hands after every performance was more than enough to show that the dancers were very devoted to their work. It was evident that the passion was there, despite the mysteries that surround the full stories of each performer’s background. The most essential element is the shaping of their future and the stories they want to tell future generations.
Of course the dancers could not have made it this far had it not been for the directors, Lori Katterhenry and Lynne Grossman, who did a fantastic job of pushing the cast to work hard enough to bring magic into their performances and costumes. Ines Zapata and Nathanael Brown should receive kudos for their roles in designing the lighting and sound, respectively, as well as the production stage manager Sophia Voglino.
The choreographers are just as amazing and should be credited as well: Stacey Tookey, Christian von Howard, Nancy Lushington, Frederick Earl Mosley, Alwin Nikolais, Danial Shapiro, Joanie Smith, Maxine Steinman and Kathleen Kelley. Choreography is an essential aspect of show business, as well as directing, producing, music, stage designs and even visual effects.
These able-minded dancers have taught some essential life lessons. You must never underestimate the power to freely express yourself via art because art is a form of life. Art is a gateway to express yourself and no words are needed. It is good to allow your body and your mind to speak for themselves.