An Evening of Dance

Photo Credit: Tom Benoit

Keene State Theatre and Dance (TAD) rounded out their 2021-22 season with its annual Evening of Dance event on April 14-16. 

This year’s event commemorated An Evening of Dance’s 47th anniversary.

The performance consisted of four pieces, with collaboration from KSC dance faculty and students, as well as guest choreographers from around New England. 

Each piece began with a pre-recorded message from the choreographer that established the piece and what it’s about. “You’re really immersed and enveloped in this experience,” Stage Manager Molly Delaney said.

The first piece, “Arriving Home” was choreographed by Lauren Cox, an assistant professor of jazz dance at University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Arriving Home” had influences from poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. The piece also featured vocals from senior Veronica Pamphile.

“For [“Arriving Home”] they had a box that one of the dancers st[ood] on, like for a solo, which is like a soap box coming out of yourself kind of moment,” Delaney said. 

“The Spiral Staircase” was directed and choreographed by guest artist Lucas Klinge. This piece drew laughter from the audience, as it opened with a dancer walking onto stage playing with an oversized toothbrush. 

The piece transitioned to a more serious tone, and included elements of “subconscious processing… Daydreams, nightmares, fantasies and visions as epitomes of the brain’s power being beyond our understanding,” according to Kingle’s program notes. 

“Capital W.I.N.” was directed and choreographed by KSC faculty member Molly Fletcher-Lynch. This piece contained various elements of games such as balls, buzzer sounds and athletic movements. 

Camerawork was added to make the audience feel included in the concept of those games. “Capital W.I.N.” began with a pre-recorded video of dancers playing a game of hide-and-seek with the camera person. After, sophomore Sylvan Williams came onto the stage and pointed a camera directly at the audience, which was projected onto the same screen the opening video was shown.

Additional audience participation was added. Two audience members were called up to the stage to play a game of rock-paper-scissors. Later, another audience member was called to roll a die while the dancers reentered the stage one-by-one. 

Following a brief intermission was “The Call”, directed and choreographed by KSC Professor of Dance Cynthia McLaughlin. The concept for this piece stemmed from the five elements.

McLaughlin described the lengthy process that led up to Evening of Dance. 

“We auditioned in December… then came and hit the ground running as soon as we all came back in January. Most of us have been rehearsing anywhere from five to 12 hours a week… it’s a pretty rigorous rehearsal process; it’s very involved with the students,” McLaughlin said. 

Since January, the choreographers worked with designers to ensure the pieces matched each individual’s vision. 

“We actually don’t want the audience to think too much about [the] mechanics, in order for them to be so seamless [and] just seem natural. [We want the audience to] build this sort of ecosystem that’s going to look a certain way and feel a certain way and act a certain way,” McLaughlin said.  

It is up to technical director Craig Lindsay to manage these technical elements. “We have a limited budget and limited human resources; We do absolutely beautiful and amazing work, but it is my job to also keep things in the box of these realities. I deal mostly with set, sound and lights,” Lindsay said. 

Lindsay emphasized that safety was an important aspect when it came to the set design. This was especially true with the set for “The Call”, which included an over 200 pound hanging wooden structure.  

“We decided to hold an intermission for [“The Call”]… There’s safety issues to bring this 225 pound unit into place, hang it on stage, and make sure it doesn’t fall,” Lindsay said.

Delaney said that stage managing for An Evening of Dance has helped them make connections with the TAD community. 

“My job as stage manager is basically being the connection point between the production team, between the dancers, [and] between the designers… To take the designers’, choreographers’, and producers’ visions off their hands and into mine to make it happen,” Delaney said. 

McLaughlin described her appreciation for her team of dancers and their personal growth. 

“You take a lot of different students who are really passionate about [what] they do and then they all come together, and they realize; it can’t just be about me,” Mclaughlin said. “… They take responsibility when they are at fault. And honestly; there’s the art making… If you can’t recognize when you are at fault, then we just can’t move forward.” 

 

Nicole Dumont can be contacted at 

ndumont@kscequinox.com

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