Once upon a time, the lights of the Byre Theatre dimmed and the opening notes of Alice in Wonderland drifted out over the audience and pulled us down the rabbit hole into a wonderland of dance. The annual DanceSoc Showcase began with a brilliant introduction piece performed by the teachers and committee that tantalized me with snippets of each style of dance about to be performed that evening. Too quickly, the words Beginners Jazz flashed on the screen along with a video introducing the class. I love the idea of this quick overview, but as someone who didn’t have a program, it would have been nice to have the name of the class and their dance stay up a bit longer on the screen.
Highland Dance came on next, with an impressive energy and crazy fast footwork that kept pace with the vivacious call of the bagpipes. As the dancers and I caught a breath, the stage was sunk into a crimson glow to reflect the tension, pain, and determination of Sia’s Elastic Heart, a song brought to life with each powerful leap and spin of the girls in Advanced Lyrical. To lighten the mood, intermediate tap delivered a whimsical piece to the theme of the Wizard of Oz, perfectly choreographed to take advantage of fun, toe-tapping elements of such a beloved childhood story.
I was then whisked to a galaxy far far away by the effortless cool of Hip Hop and the dancers who could twist and fold and spin their bodies through the air with such ease that I’d believe they were being moved by the force. The Star Wars theme was utilized well for epic dance-offs and a breakdancing Darth Vader is pretty much the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. Staying out in space, the Blue Angels wove a suspenseful story with impeccable coordination and masterful control of each movement, each expression, and even every breath so that it all came together to take the audience through liftoff to another planet. General Irish brought the light of the rainbow and the beauty of all its colors to life with their cheery, upbeat piece. To contrast such brightness, Advanced Contemporary brought the audience to the world’s end, their eerie, graceful movements amplified by funeral black costumes they wore and the blank expressions they wore on their faces. The end transitioned into the swap, the dancers effectively using contrasting costumes and the deep red lighting to create an atmosphere of tension and suspense, fitting for a story of making deals with God or in reality, perhaps the Devil. Advanced Ballet flitted in on pointed toes, fairy-like and with ethereal power in each graceful twirl and bend.
The next dance had to be my favorite in the entire show; the Hip Hop dancers transformed themselves into dolls, so controlled in their movements and their expressions that I believed their flesh was now plastic and dictated by a wind-up piece in their backs. In this dream-like trance, General Lyrical pulled me into the Hunger Games with a passionate choreography that effectively utilized the themes and symbols from the books. Blue Angels then once again stole my heart with the amazing synchronization of their movements and their emotionally charged dance moves. Advanced Tap had me feeling tired by the end just watching their lighting-quick footwork with the added adrenaline of battle-themed music. The stage then flooded with the power of gold, sequin skirts and all the sexy ladies of Intermediate Jazz. The hip swirling, chest thrusting, booty-dropping piece gave me a rush of girl power and a desire to get up on stage and strut my stuff too.
Advanced Hip Hop then took the floor and gave an astounding performance complete with lip-synching, flawless coordination, and an overall level of cool that cannot be rivaled by any other form of dance (in my personal, humble opinion). Advanced tap made me happy with their upbeat routine and theatre had me reliving my childhood by paying homage to Mary Poppins and the talented chimneysweepers. It was truly supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Blue Angels came on for the last time and wowed me once more with the purposefulness of each movement and the balance of passion and control they have. Finally, Advanced Scottish left me feeling like I needed a run through the fairy pools of the Highlands while wearing a tartan skirt and eating Haggis. They made a difficult dance look flawless and theme of Brave was well utilized.
I left the show feeling as if I had taken a whirlwind tour of DanceSoc, that each class had invited me to share the story of their passion and love for theatre or lyrical or hip hop and left me the gift of insight to this magical world. I can tell how much work went into every piece and everyone in the show should be proud of what they’ve achieved, what they’ve brought to the stage, and what they’ve contributed to bringing to life so many stories and so many happily ever after’s.
Images taken from DanceSoc Facebook Page.