2016 Winter Dance showcases great minds

Dancers perform on the opening night of the “Minds of Interest” Winter Dance Concert in Yulman Theater. (Courtesy of Charles Steckler)

Yesterday, at 7:30 p.m. in Yulman Theater, the Department of Theater and Dance opened their Winter Dance Concert, “Minds of Interest.”

The show will run through the week ending with a matinee on Sunday, March 5.

Created and directed by Miryam Moutillet, “Minds of Interest” is a collection of routines inspired by the philosophies of the great (mostly 20th century) thinkers.

Movements in “Minds of Interest” are choreographed to express their field of study and other eccentricities.

The show begins with creative geniuses (Alfred Hitchcock), moves into the scientific field (Stephen Hawking), and ends on civil rights fighters (Maya Angelou).

The show opens with the blaring first chords of the Twilight Zone theme, appropriate for a show whose set pieces aim to breach dimensions of sight, sound, and mind. Students enrolled in ADA 296H/350: “Choreography” were tasked with choreographing a routine to showcase the interiors of creative minds in the form of dance.

A black-lit routine involving fluorescent hoop skirts celebrated Albert Einstein’s black hole theory. A smooth, swaying meditation mimicked the graceful solitude of the deep ocean depths, inspired by a Virginia Woolf quote.

And in a creative bit of stage design, a piece on heartbeats is lit washed over with blood red and arranged like a surgical amphitheater out of the 1800s.An early Hitchcock homage pits its dancers staring piercingly into the seats, evoking the paranoia and anxiety of his seminal works.

The goal isn’t simply to base routines around recognizable artifacts of famous creative minds, but to evoke the challenges they undertook and the discoveries that defined their success.

While they do succeed in paying tribute to groundbreaking voices, the ADA 296H team also aims to have fun with them.

A fog machine is used to memorable effect in a “steamy” exploration of the invention of steam engines. And a funky ’80s throwback gets a lot of mileage out of a chalkboard.

Occasionally, a clip or sound bite plays between routines. While it makes perfect sense to directly incorporate the voices of the scientists and artists that served as framework for the show’s choreography, at times the multimedia aspect threatens to stall the momentum of the show.

There are exceptions, like when the dancers themselves incorporate either choreography or rapport to the dialog, which effectively injects energy into the words and brings them to life on the stage.

But during these segments I mostly found myself waiting for the music to come back on. Despite this relatively brief hiccup, the “Minds of Interest” anthology is a fun evening that effectively expresses what makes us cherish the wisdom of figures in civil rights and on the scientific frontier.



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