Fredrick Early Mosley, a professor at Montclair State’s highly regarded dance program, held a two-week workshop for 66 men to come together and tell their stories through dance. The product of this workshop was the two-day run of “Hearts of Men” at Montclair’s Memorial Auditorium.
“Hearts of Men” was a unique program because it combined dancers of every age range, as well as dancers of every skill level.
“My goal was to create a community where men of all ages and backgrounds could play, create, share and ultimately come together to make dances that speak to Hearts of Men,” Mosely wrote in the program.
Mosely achieved his goal through 14 extraordinarily diverse pieces which took personal experiences and brought them to life physically on stage.
The first piece of the show, “Unjust Reasoning,” perfectly reflected the diversity of the company. The piece began with a single dancer on stage performing slow, elongated movements to emotional acoustic music. As the dancer continued, more members of the company began to walk on stage and the piece transformed into a high energy, sassy group number.
With so many men on stage dancing together, it was easy to see which dancers had been dancing for years and which had just begun. While this could have been a negative for a normal dance program, it was surprisingly uplifting and incredible to watch the men work together and encourage each other, no matter the skill level.
The stand-out piece of the first act was a beautiful number titled “Take/Care” which was choreographed by Nathaniel Hunt and featured two songs: “I Saw Her Standing There” by Ruxpin and “California Rain” by Betty Who. The piece began with a single dancer on stage dancing in silence. Similar to the first piece, the number turned into a group piece featuring beautiful fluidity and gracefulness from all of the dancers.
Unlike the first piece, the number ended as a duet between two men telling the story of falling out of love. The choreography was heartbreaking and moving, showing the dancers slowly falling out of sync with one another while the lyrics of the song crooned, “I love it when you’re lonely/ That’s when we feel the same/ I come around, and I let you down/ Like California rain.”
The program did not stay melancholy for long, however, as the second half of the show began with an incredibly energetic and upbeat piece from the entire company called “Running Spirits.”
Matthew Mellin, a business administration major at Montclair State said, “My favorite piece was “Running Spirits” because it showed the whole company and how committed they were for creating such a large-scale piece and executing it so well.”
Following “Running Spirits” was a piece titled “The Soldier’s Tale” which seemed appropriate for Sunday’s performance on September 11th. While the piece could have been highly emotional, the choreographer, Christian von Howard, took a different approach and instead demonstrated soldiers’ inclination for teamwork and lifting one another up, sometimes literally. The dancers worked together to lift and carry each other around stage while creating memorable vignettes.
The piece that garnered the largest crowd response was one of the last numbers of the show, “Mix_Tape 2016.” This piece took popular music and dance moves like the dab and the whip and put them in a recital setting. The audience cheered throughout the entire piece as various dancers demonstrated their incredible skill while still doing recognizable dances.
The program was immensely enjoyable and told many stories of men’s experiences with love, dealing with masculinity and as the minority in the female-dominated field of dance. The Department of Theatre and Dance definitely began the semester off with a bang.