The Department of Theatre and New Dance presented a two-night showing of a special program, featuring the dancing and choreography of faculty, students and guest artists from the department’s first 30 years. 

The program consisted of six segments of very different styles of dance, almost all incorporating a level of spoken word into the choreography, giving all of the dances a level of theatricality. 

While most of the segments were well danced and choreographed, the one in particular that stood out entirely was “Focus,” choreographed by Zachary Groenewold, one of the instructors within the dance department. 

The choreography itself was creative and intricate but the caliber of the performers is what carried the dance. 

Samantha Brown dances at First 30, which celebrates the first 30 years of the Department of Theatre. (Taylor Boomsma / The Poly Post)

Their musicality was well portrayed as they skillfully coordinated their movements about the stage, interacting with each other and the music. 

With bright blue and red lighting, a single dancer in a chair who rarely left it and clusters of dancers moving in coordination portrayed the inhibiting of creativity. 

The underlying theme of this dance seemed to be the struggle that students find within the education system to pay attention within the restrictions of their desks and the teachers’/professors’ constant reprimand to pay attention. 

The movements repeatedly portrayed anguish, boredom and spurts of creativity — only to have an offstage voice shouting “Focus!” for the dancer to return to a rigid sitting position. 

The other dance out of the six that was noteworthy was “You Aren’t What You Wear,” choreographed by Jeremy Hahn, another dance department faculty member. 

It was performed by a group of eight dancers aptly moving between each other with coordinated, but different, sometimes opposing movements that flowed beautifully. 

Mounds of clothes littered the stage as dancers sporadically picked up, put on, took off or threw the props throughout the choreography. 

This piece held a more contemporary ballet feel to it with a softer mood to the music and very fluid movements emphasizing curvature of the body and soft flowing turns. 

A common theme among some of the other performances seemed to dance around the idea of mental health. 

One piece, “Ballad for a Lunatic,” choreographed and performed by a CPP alumnus, Gustavo Jimenez, used “surrealism and hyper-performance art,” which was difficult to interpret. 

But that also may have had to do with the fact that all the text was in a different language. 

A duet performed by alumni Brenda Reyes-Chavez and Manuel Macias revolved around the idea of trauma and how it manifests in dreams.

It was a relevant context to portray and the audience seemed to respond well to it.  

The fact that most of the performances incorporated a script was only somewhat helpful in interpreting the context but took away from the dancing. 

Dance is an art form that, if done well, can convey a message without telling the audience explicitly what it’s supposed to mean. 

These dancers were very well capable of that so it was mildly unnecessary to add words. 

Overall, it was a successful show with skilled choreography and talented dancers throughout. 

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