As I walked into the Mandell Theater, I truthfully had no idea what “Improvise” was going to be like. Coming in with the knowledge of it being a senior project, familiar formality wasn’t present, but a whole different experience was awaiting me.“Improvise” is a senior project by graduating entertainment and arts management majors Katie Lynch and Rebecca Green.
The idea behind the project was to perform a show based on choreography by each and every dancer. Each girl tailored her movements to a particular piece of the song, and as the show continued, the dancers rotated their parts, creating the improvisation within the show.
As I took my seat, the show began even before I knew it. A series of dancers stood before me, practicing their dances as the audience filed in; they slowly ceased practicing and began to move into a delicate formation.
The dancers in the show consisted of a number of talented undergraduates: Sarah Depree, Grace Gamble, Nicole Fusco, Michele-Olivia Francois, Laura Remirez, Eileen Moran, Ashley Jacobs, Rebecca Green, Melanie Carminati, Erica Henn, Ilana Haas, Catherine Natter, Erica Pike, Alyssa Goldsmith, Claire DeLiso, Kaitlynn Boretsky, Karlee Markarian, Katie Porrka, Lauren Bilski, Lex Davis, Shannon Renninger, Tori Reed and Heather Otten.
A few of the pieces were supported by The Drexel Saxtet and The Drexel Improvisational Ensemble, a series of talented musicians who also improvised every tune, chord or melody they played during the show.
In the first dance, “Variation of a Dream,” the dancers carried themselves with elegance, slowly moving their hands in a flutter motion. This allowed room for creativity and interest, and the motion was repeated throughout the entire song.
As the track continued, the girls turned less into single ballerinas and more into a web of connections between each girl. This second piece, called “Saxy Dames,” was anything but innocent and graceful like the previous dance; rather, the song took a turn for the sensual side. The group of ballerinas slowly transformed from innocent beauties to sultry bar girls setting the stage — and the saxophones around them — aflame. In addition to saxes, Drexel music teacher Dennis Fortune graced the stage with his improvised piano playing. As the show continued, the brilliance and talent seemed to flow through the entire show.“Improvise” represented not only spontaneous creativity, but it also showcased the dancers’ real talent. The different pieces onstage ranged from undulating trash bags on urban streets in “Trash,” to dice-determined improvised dances with help from the audience in “Absence and Presence: A Chance Dance,” to finally a struggle of animal magnetism through the movement of modern dance and impressive sounds in “Jaywalking.” This show was a wonderful work of art and imagination representing the true level of expertise and brilliance in the cast.