by Sandrine Berre
On Fri. and Sat, April 16 and 17, the Wilson college dance ensemble, Orchesis, showed its Spring performance. Dealing with many different issues like women’s condition, duality and the crossing of boundaries, the pieces were more political than ever before according to its main choreographer, Paula Kellinger.
A combination of improvisation and hard work
As Kellinger declared, “where you perform is what you perform.” Since the beginning of the school year, the Orchesis performances have been held in the Appenzellar-Buchanan dance studio as a way to bring the audience into the pieces and lessen the distance that existed before when performed in Laird Hall. More than a simple accumulation of different pieces, this spring’s performance was a very united show based on the involvement of its dancers. “The dancers’ work was based on improvisation, a practice that had begun in the fall.” says Kellinger, the dance teacher. The choreographers then selected the parts that were to be kept for the final show and the freedom of improvisation served as a tool for the overall experience of the performance.
Dancing and being politically involved
Based on the writing What big girls are made of? by Marge Piercy, the dance in collaboration between Kellinger and the dancers was more than a simple dance, it was more like a political manifesto on the conditions of women. Oppression, repression, women and society, and women’s appearance were dealt with in this piece called Cereal Box Toys. Kellinger feels that “the pure movement is not enough” and that there is always something more to say when a dance is performed. Through the use of black and white clothing on the dancers and lights’ effects, the dancers showed a very powerful piece where they dealt with these issues with a certain gravity.
The performance as a play
The idea of crossing boundaries was a recurrent theme throughout the show. In fact, that is one of the reasons why this performance was almost like a play at times. The theatrical aspect of the dances was omnipresent in the last piece created by New York choreographer, Julie Mayo, who worked with the students in the fall. Words were used as musical instruments during the show, linking the pieces together. With Mayo’s work, it seemed that the final act was being performed. This last piece showed the dancers entering and leaving the stage as if the dances were continuing in the real world. The use of derision also uplifted and concluded the show with a light-hearted feeling for the audience.
Overall, this performance was a very new concept for the dancers. For future performances, Kellinger has many other ideas that she would like to develop to challenge her own interpretation of the world by interacting with the audience even more.