Fall Forward dance concert began with an intense red light shining
on the center of Warner Main. The silhouette of first-year Brianna
Rego stepped toward the audience, her long skirt swirling around
her legs, hands held high in the air. She turned her ankle and raised
her head. These were the first movements in a dance concert featuring
nearly 90 minutes of stimulating student and alumni choreography
As part of an Oberlin tradition, Fall Forward embodies the diversity
of the dance community on campus. Although the program consisted
of only six pieces, the audience members witnessed an array of movement
styles and cultural influences. Beginning with Rego’s solo,
a contemporary flamenco, the night also featured two group pieces,
a jazz inspired duet and two modern solos.
Rego, who has studied flamenco dance in the United States and Spain,
used the style of nuevo flamenco in “Rhumba Gitana.”
“This flamenco is modern, innovative, flamboyant and very
different from the more introverted traditional flamenco, yet still
all about expression, movement, passion, drama and feel,”
Accompanied by the music of “Rhumba Rhumba Gitanita”
by Ruben Romero “Torero” Govi, Rego smacked her shoes
against a tap board to create another audio dimension to her performance.
The transfixed audience watched as her feet flew with the tempo
while her fingers formed intricate patterns around her body.
Next, senior Ashley Smith used dance and music to create “for
erin,” an intense and highly moving group piece that paid
tribute to a friend lost in a tornado storm.
“This piece was a thank you to my friend Erin for always being
there and was performed in her memory,” Smith said.
While many choreographers use music as the inspiration for movement,
Smith completed the choreography and then added the score. The composition,
“for erin,” by junior Aaron Helgeson, was narrated by
Smith. Combining text from diary entries, newspaper clippings and
pop lyrics, this music brought an added dynamic to a piece already
laden with emotion. Beginning with a slow, gestural solo, the dance
opened with Smith standing alone in the lights, eventually joined
by the six other dancers.
A dramatic change occurred as the dancers as “Virtue vs. Sin”
took the stage. Sophomore Jan Margaret Llorens, choreographer, performed
with first-year Ethan Baldwin portraying the struggle of good versus
evil. Using both live music as well as pre-recorded sounds, there
was an obvious juxtaposition between the two forces, displayed in
the varying moods and costume colors. Maintaining a jazz and hip-hop
quality, the dance employed unusual maneuvers such as back flips
in the choreography.
The second solo, “Shelter,” was choreographed by Susan
Van Pelt, OC ’79, and performed by visiting dance faculty
member Kristin Horrigan. It began in complete darkness, with only
the sound of a voice reciting a prerecorded text: “So the
square, being, equal, gives you a choice/ The square is so wonderful
in one sense and so threatening in another sense.”
Meanwhile Horrigan appeared on stage, standing in the middle of
a square of light. Using interviews from architects discussing the
process of building a structure, as well as mounting accordion music,
Horrigan created a visual square with her movements. In a particularly
striking moment, Horrigan broke through the boundaries of her structure
and entered the center of the square. At that moment, the music
broke into the text “Beat the bounds.”
The third and final solo was “as yet unknown,” choreographed
and performed by junior Kala Hildebrand. This dance explored how
life and dance can become intertwined in creative experience. Using
“pedestrian movements” such as clapping or walking as
a basis for her choreography, she performed a fluid, effortless
piece that captured the audience’s attention without needing
music. The only breaks in silence were self-created. Senior Kim
Madaliski designed her costume.
The final piece, “Re-Entrant Angle,” choreographed by
senior Loren Groenendaal, brought the concert to an exuberant close.
Using six dancers to create a sensation of robotic entities, the
dance movements were very sharp and angular, fitting to the harsh
and machine-like music composed by TIMARA senior Cesar Alvarez.
As it reached mind-boggling speeds, it forced eight minutes of high
energy from both the dancers and the audience. Like Smith’s
piece, “Re-Entrant Angle” began with a solo by Groenendaal,
who was later joined by the other dancers.
Using movements demonstrating opening and closing, Groenendaal maintained
a connection to her audience using precise gestures and shapes.
These series of movements were often repeated in the unison sections,
where the fast pace and minute detail created a piece that dancer
junior Julia Smith called “the meat and potatoes of choreography.”
Fall Forward ended with a boom. Seven dancers held their positions
as the lights dimmed. While they stood together and bowed, the only
sound was the roaring applause from the audience, clapping for the
performers and cheering for the choreographers, composers, musicians
and lighting designers. After 90 minutes, another Fall Forward came
to a close, and all that was left was the anticipation for the next