Drexel’s dance team performs “The Essence of Being” | The Triangle
Arts & Entertainment

Drexel’s dance team performs “The Essence of Being”

Photo by Audrey Scott | The Triangle

The Drexel Dance Ensemble puts on two professional-caliber productions in the Mandell Theater each year—one in the fall and one in the spring. This year’s spring production, “The Essence of Being,” debuted last week and featured pieces choreographed by regional and NYC professional artists; it was performed in alternation with “Rising as One,” choreographed by students. The spring show is also notable as it is the first of the year to combine FreshDance with the rest of the Dance Ensemble. FreshDance is a Drexel dance company that provides professional performance opportunities for freshmen in the dance program. “The Essence of Being” included eight different pieces: four pieces in each act with a 15 minute intermission in between. 

The show started with “ova,” a dance consisting of three parts marked by three songs. The first dancer visible on stage was in an elevated structure covered in purple fabric, which was made to look like a tall skirt with her back to the audience. The visual of a dancer standing still with her legs covered emphasized dancing with arm and head movements, which provided an interesting new perspective on an activity typically associated with full-body movement. The dance felt emotional and light with pastel lighting and graceful movements. 

Next up was “To the Moon,” an upbeat dance to music by The Rolling Stones and David Bowie. Dancers moved more freely in this dance yet their movements still closely matched the rhythms of the music. The set and costuming were both a blank white, acting as a canvas for the rainbow lights to shine on. This dance engaged the audience with its upbeat nature and exciting visuals. 

“Amor (Love),” the third performance, was a bit eerier than the previous acts. It started with shadowed dancers transferring water from one vessel to the next on stage, cultivating an interesting focus on the sounds of water rather than the dancers’ movements. The dancers tended to move together in a group rather than having a focus on individuals. Occasionally, the lights dimmed, giving the group a shadowy look that added to the mystique and made it even more difficult to identify singular dancers. This piece was introspective and emotional in an interesting contrast to the previous dance. 

“Body Language” was all about energy and teamwork. Dancers moved sharply and together, showing off their coordination. At times, the music stopped to allow the audience to focus on the rhythmic sounds made by the dancers themselves. Throughout different parts of the piece, dancers split into groups that performed different dances at the same time, giving the audience members lots to view and process. Their dances spoke volumes, telling a story of togetherness and rhythm.

After a break, the show continued with “suite | one,” which began as a slower piece choreographed to reggae-inspired music. The dancers’ movements were markedly free and non-calculated, which made the dance fun to watch as it was unpredictable. The intensity of their movements grew throughout the piece, eventually getting the crowd involved in rhythmic clapping as they performed. This dance was an excellent reintroduction to the show. 

Then came “PICTOGRAMS,” where dancers seemed almost robotic, moving in jerky, precise ways. The dances were mechanical and calculated, creating a unique viewing experience. It was like watching machines come to life, but there was still a sense of harmony as the dancers moved together. 

“Instinctual” began with a dreamy vibe. The set played with light and shadow as the dancers moved gracefully across the stage. Along with a music change, the dance became more somber as dancers began to move animalistically. This piece contained duality and created an element of surprise as the moods changed between songs. 

Finally, “Untitled” was a burst of color and energy. Movements were free and exciting, creating a complex piece that captivated viewers, drawing them in once again as the show came to a close. The vigor of the dancers was evident and they seemed to enjoy themselves on stage. Their bouncy movements and vivacious energy brought the show to a lively close. Overall, this dance performance showed how movement can tell stories, evoke emotions and convey the power of dance as a medium.