Orchesis Ensemble Communicates with Audiences “On Edge”

by Suji Han

Twenty four dancers wearing casual dress, but serious faces seized the dance studio. Dancers walked around the chairs, suddenly stopped walking, sat on chairs and began moving to the music. Audiences who sat in front of the dancers tried to understand and interpret the dancers’ movements.

On Fri., April 20 and Sat, April 21, the Orchesis Ensemble performed the show On edge – dances on the brink… in the Appenzellar-Buchanan Dance Studio. For three days, audiences completely packed the studio. Some of them were familiar to modern dance but some of them were new to modern dance.

Innovation ‘on edge’

About the title of the show, the Orchesis adviser Paula Kellinger, says “When you say ‘on edge’, it is not mainstream. So it means that students are taking more risks in terms of their work than what might be more mainstream at the center. In the work, students are making and exploring their ideas. I always think of these dances like movies with subtitles. You have to work a little harder to understand what is going on because people are not a custom to this particular genre.”

For over thirteen weeks, all Orchesis members met every Wednesday, choreographed their works, and critiqued each other’s pieces for three sessions. Some of them made extra time for practicing and choreographing.

“The most challenging part during practice was to make sure we were all together without necessarily looking at one another. We had to sense when each other was moving.” Destiny Patterson ‘15 says.

A discussion of modern dance

During the Question and Answer session after the 1:00 p.m. showing, the audience asked performers about dancing without music, where the idea of dance came from and what modern dance is. “I would define modern dance as something that grew out of a desire for there to be different ways to communicate through movement. It is about offering a different lens through which to look at something and through which to express something.” Kellinger says.

Valerie Barnes who is a local resident and has photographed the Orchesis Ensemble for over ten years gives her impression of the performance: “I enjoyed each dance and the variety of moods and movement. Some dances were lyrical and fluid, others were passionate. Some had strong or sudden movements. The pace changed in some dances and caught me by surprise. There was amazing unison in the group piece, which is difficult to achieve with that many people. Each member of the Orchesis Ensemble was “in the moment” and gave the audience a real gift with the performance.”

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