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VCU’s Annual Dance Show Sets The Bar High

Thighs being slapped and bodies audibly connecting add a percussive element to the piece.

Rebecca Ferrell | February 21, 2014

This Thursday thru Saturday Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Dance and Choreography presents VCU Dance NOW, a performance featuring new works by VCU Dance faculty and guest artists performed by VCU Dance students. The concert, produced annually, showcases the exceptional talents that make up the VCU Dance community.

VCU Dance Now opens with Mind the Corners, a piece by Autumn Proctor. Hanging picture frames fill the space as the dancers weave between one another capturing moments like snapshots. Mike Jarett’s lighting design dexterously supports the sculpted shapes made within the frames.

Trouble, an energetic explosion of movement by Robbie Kinter shows off the athleticism of the dancers at VCU. Bodies flinging from all directions create a thrilling atmosphere. At one point the dancers exchange partners so quickly they seem to be defying gravity.

Martha Curtis’ Adventures Portside takes us on an airplane ride from hell. Bright blue trash bags cleverly turn into survival devices as they resuscitate and rescue the dancers. The sound of the bags swooshing across the stage is reminiscent of a heartbeat growing stronger.

Guest artist Nathan Trice created Conversations during his two-week residency at VCU Dance. The cast, broken into four couples, runs the spectrum of a relationship in distress. From confrontational gestures to tender moments of embrace, Trice’s choreography exudes intimacy. Thighs being slapped and bodies audibly connecting add a percussive element to the piece.

What’s What, a dance film collaboratively made by VCU Dance faculty Courtney Harris and MFA Kinetic Imaging candidate Charli Brissey, provides a throwback to the vaudeville era but with a twist. Complete with Busby Berkeley overhead shots, this black and white film charmingly tackles gender-bending performance. Drag king Mr. Cool Ethan accomplishes an impeccable lip sync.

Three additional faculty pieces round out the show. Judith Steel’s Breath taking Shape utilizes an original score and live musicians to accentuate billowing bodies. Stones of Ashes, choreographed and performed by Melanie Richards, includes movement inspired by her travels to Sicily, Italy. Closing the performance is Christian von Howard’s The Point in Which Everything Closes In, a piece that dynamically embraces the feeling of anxiety.

VCU Dance NOW runs Thursday, February 20-Saturday, February 22 at The Grace St. Theatre. Tickets are $20/ $15 for students. Tickets can be purchased online at Showclix.com or by calling (804) 828-2020.