Drexel students had the last chance of the season June 1 and 2 to experience the unique flavor of the two companies of the Drexel Dance Program when both FreshDance and the Drexel Dance Ensemble performed at the Mandell Theater.
The company dazzled the audience with its spring concert, which included two student-choreographed pieces and four professionally choreographed dances. All of them come together in “Elements,” because, as ensemble director Miriam Giguere said, the performance is “a reflection of the variety of artistic elements and ideas that are used in the work.”
That is the case indeed. First, the audience had a chance to experience the coolness of the ocean depth and variety of life in the piece “Undercurrents,” choreographed by Stephen Welsh to original music by John Glaubitz. This clean study on the “flowiness” of water and its creatures is a captivating twist on movements of nature in a place far away.
In the second piece, “To Escape the Absolute,” the viewer was in for a sudden change of climate. Choreographed by student Lauren Bilski to British band Muse’s song “Time Is Running Out,” which was performed by The Section Quartet, this piece was unsettling through the choreography’s imitation of scratching movements but excellent in maximizing the cooperation between the dance and the music. From this journey inside the human soul, the viewer travels to a place resembling the Jazz Age in Jennifer Morley’s “The Impulsive Strut” to the music of The Gotan Project and Gipsy Kings. In this choreography, the audience saw the role of lighting in setting the stage for the dancers and how a stage can be divided in an unconventional way to make it a part of the dance experience.
As the next piece proved, in addition to lighting and stage utilization, media and excerpts of texts can have an important role in revealing the essence of the dance. In “Shifting in Memoriam,” the students of the dance and digital media programs collaborated in a weekend project called the Performance Charrette. Another collaboration was admired in “Fashioned From the Opinion” (choreographed by Meredith Rainey), this time starring guest dancers from the Drexel Dance Ensemble, accompanied by the Drexel University Concert Band. Olive Prince’s “Sunset East of the Hot Tin Roof” is another example of work between departments, as it was set to a new composition by Drexel music program director Luke Abruzzo titled “Contemplacion.” Its slow pace and charming costumes by Katherine Fritz captivated the audience for a mesmerizing and restful experience, especially because it was performed right after “Thingamajig.” Choreographed by student Leah Spangler, this work was a joyful and colorful appreciation of play and fun.
All of these amazing pieces came together in “Elements,” which left the audience excited for the upcoming season.