Students Set Clocks Ahead, Fall Dances Forward
Ranging from the subtly ethereal to the comedically exaggerated to the starkly enunciated and passionately fluid, the movements of last Friday’s dance performances differed greatly in style and method but were ultimately comparable through their evocative success. This year’s Fall Forward event, an annual production put on by the Oberlin College theater and dance program in Warner Main Space, showcased student and faculty achievements in six diverse pieces, all of which rose to capture and move the often demanding attentions of the College audience.
The first of these works, titled Selador and featuring College junior Ariel Kahrl and choreographer and College junior Dana Kelley juxtaposed stark, periodic movements with the ethereal vocals of Michael Andrews and a video projection of a fluttering plastic bag, an image of the unexpected beauty in spontaneity taken from the film American Beauty. The piece opened with a single dancer falling to the silence of the drifting bag and progressed to include a second dancer, moving in alternation with the first and embodying the aimless nature of the bag.
Although the tense introduction to this piece initially suggested the kind of detached pretentiousness often inspired by a few too many visits to the mixed media exhibits of MoMA, Selador quickly evolved into an engaging work, accessible to a variety of viewers.
What are you doing in my Space?, the second piece of the evening, combined contact improv with live music performed by College juniors Claire Chenette, Teddy Rankin-Parker and David Vohden. College senior Ben Shapiro, double-degree junior Sam Goodman and College junior and choreographer Alex Kramer danced in the piece, bumping into one another in increasingly and humorously aggressive flights as the audience laughed in unison and the dancers repeatedly posed the question, “What are you doing in my space?”
Solo works Rouge and Canción de Cuna “Lullaby” followed Kramer’s piece. Rouge, choreographed and danced by College sophomore Holly Heidt and featuring the accompaniment of pianist and College first-year Nicki Adams, playfully dramatized our perception of ’50s style, kitsch femininity. Adams’ light-fingered performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” worked perfectly alongside Heidt’s flirtatious and exaggerated twirls, charming the viewer while simultaneously forcing a questioning of the kind of heavily gendered role performed by Heidt.
Canción de Cuna “Lullaby” involved vocal, spoken and physical performance by Conservatory junior and dancer/choreographer Marya Barrios. Tense, frustration-fraught gestures accompanied the emotion-filled, full voice of Barrios. Communicated almost entirely in Spanish with continuous care, Canción de Cuna held an atmosphere unique from that of the other pieces, standing out in its dual rigidity and beauty.
The last three pieces of Fall Forward, College junior Micheline Heal’s four-part Kaleidoscope, African American Studies Department Artist-in-Residence Adenike Sharpley’s passionate Angelitos Negros and College senior Lucinda Segar’s many-bodied To Bury, were arguably the favorites of the night.
Kaleidoscope, performed by College sophomores Lindsay Jaynes and Nicole Laux and juniors Grace McCants and Alexandra Sterman, exuded energy and life as the women danced in parallel to music by Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Angelitos Negros, translated roughly as “little black angels,” incorporated traditional flamenco, live performance by bassist Marion Parker III, OC ’04, and a towering angel constructed by Associate Professor of Studio Art Nanette Yannuzzi Macias. College sophomore Kristal Boyd danced the piece, reaching across Warner Center in longing and engaging with both Parker and the angel. Boyd wore a costume designed by Maggie Terry. The work was performed to the Roberta Flack song of the same name.
The final piece of the evening, To Bury, featured a group of 14 students. Exhibiting a level of flexibility enviable to any viewer, the many dancers weaved their way past each other in a quick-paced pattern of interaction.
This ensemble performance provided a fitting conclusion to the event: showcasing a large number of students’ talents, To Bury worked alongside the earlier pieces to demonstrate a medium of art and form of expressiveness rarely shared on campus. Through their overarching engaging natures, the works of Fall Forward stand as tangible proof that, at least in the physical domain, Oberlin students have the potential to interact with an eloquence that extends beyond our near-universally self-acknowledged awkwardness.