Review: Original Choreography Fuels ‘Collaborations’

Maria E. Troein

Marin J.D. Orlosky ’07 performs in her solo work entitled “Losing Momentum” in the Harvard Radcliffe Dance Company’s “Collaborations.

Without boldness and creativity, dance would still be in the formative stages we remember from the glittery ball scenes in Shakespeare in Love. Although seemingly archaic today, even ballet was in its time a breakthrough.

The Harvard Radcliffe Dance Company’s (HRDC) “Collaborations” Spring Concert of Modern Dance presented this past weekend in the Adams Pool Theater lacked neither boldness nor creativity. But like all ventures that dare to be experimental, some succeed while others fall by the wayside. The HRDC’s performance was a collection of seven short works, all choreographed by different people, most of whom were dancers, and set to a variety of music.

The performance began with a piece called “After” choreographed by HRDC’s instructor Brenda Divelbliss. The three dancers (Kyle R. McCarthy ’06, Sonia K. Todorova ’07 and Timothy H. Wong ’05) donned black trousers and blazers and assumed interchangeably intertwined and separated formation positions. For the few minutes that the piece lasted to the character beats of Marcos Valle’s “Osgrillos,” the movements were engaging and the bits done in unison were well executed.

The next work, “Pinned Together,” was an unexpected combination of video and dance presentation. The video, created by Neil G. Ellingson ’05, made putty out the body of the nearly naked man on the screen by blending and doubling body parts as if they were emerging from mirrors. It made for an intriguing and somewhat mesmerizing effect which unfortunately overshadowed the movement of the dancers performing in the dark foreground of the screen. The dancers effectively drew attention to themselves when they threw large shadows onto the screen, indicating that the combination work could have benefited from some change in presentation technique.

It’s hard to know what to expect from a dance entitled “Why is Carrie Laughing? OUR DANCE ISN’T FUNNY.” This work, however, was not funny and no one seemed primed for laughter as the dancers (Dominique M. Elie ’06, Lucy F.V. Lindsey ’06, Lexi Tuddenham ’04) swayed in tree-like fashion to Frou Frou’s “Let Go.” At first the dancers who also choreographed the piece were attached together and swayed as one body, which proceeded to break apart and the dancers scattered erratically across the stage. At times the patterns didn’t match the tone of the music adequately and the arm work would not have suffered from a little less flailing, yet overall the energy was high and the dancers seemed enthralled by their own creation.

The fourth piece, Sonia Todorova’s “Satin Doll,” featured four dancers who seemed to spend most of the work’s time on the floor in various somersaults and other sultry formations.

The only solo on the program was Marin J.D. Orlosky’s ’07 “Losing Momentum,” set to Bjork’s “It’s Oh So Quiet.” This time the title aptly reflected the content of the dance—the first 30 seconds of the two minute piece the choreographer/soloist spent sitting still and rigid on a chair. Like the blank canvas which is art because it is the absence of art, this piece was dance in the absence of dance for the bulk of its duration. The momentum came out in a few spurts, unreflective of the music, and subsided into stillness again.

In a dance show I expect to see dancers doing what they supposedly do best, which usually does not include performing music. The finale piece on the program, “Letter on Metaphysics,” was a combination of music performance, poetry read aloud and dancing. This was not a well-chosen work as the finale, for it made me wish that the dancers stick to their own craft and not try to impersonate a band with drums and the works. The text read aloud to the discordant music did not ease the ordeal, and the whole experience overshadowed any quality dancing also featured in the piece.

—Crimson reviewer Julie S. Greenberg can be reached at jsgreenb@fas.harvard.edu.