Nichele Van Portfleet wows her audience with artistry

This past Wednesday was student Nichele Van Portfleet’s senior project dance concert, “How Do You Dance Sunshine?”

Directed by Van Portfleet, the event showcased “an investigation into dance as a language,” taking place at Sonoma State University’s Warren Theatre in Ives Hall.

There are many ways to tell someone that you love them and Van Portfleet’s project demonstrates how words aren’t always enough, that sometimes you truly need to express yourself differently such as through dance.

Van Portfleet not only directed, but also was involved as choreographer, costume designer, sound editor and graphic artist for the concert. She has been dancing as well as performing since her childhood years and recently succeeded in creating “Parched” for SSU’s Fall Dance Concert of 2012.

The show was comprised of three separate dances, the first one, “Careful,” a story of the same name by Raymond Carver and edited for performance by Van Portfleet.

It presented music by Múm and Nina Simone, voice acting by Courtney Hensen, Noelle Rodriguez and Kyle Ryan, who also performed as a dancer alongside Hannah Cardiel.

“The whole show was amazing, but I particularly loved the first piece just because there was a great relationship between the characters,” said Jacob Marks, a senior dance major at SSU. “I thought it was just great storytelling but it was fresh in a sense, the thing with Nicky’s choreography is it’s engaging, you cannot stop watching it.”

“Our Talk,” included Van Portfleet as the dancer with her husband Casey Van Portfleet as the musician. A couple of wonderful instruments were on display as the audience was able to hear the subtlety of chimes, which soon transitions into a thunder of drumbeats.

This dance came across as the most intimate and perhaps the most creative of the night, particularly near the end as people began to walk calmly on stage and clear away all of the instruments.

One of the more memorable parts was when the musician needed to stand up to allow the last person to take away the rug underneath his feet, which garnered a few quick laughs from those closest in attendance.

The final dance of the night was also one to remember and was titled, “Mother’s Love. Mother’s Labor. Mother’s Letters to the Sea.”

With music by Zoe Keating, this performance included the most dancers featuring Jessica Houston, Aimée Otterson, Jenna Valez, Nichele Van Portfleet (for Fiona MacKenzie) and Jared Wiltse.

Movements in this dance were definitely a step up from those seen in the first two performances, as audience members got to see five different dancers on stage. Performing several amazing displays of balance and strength, the choreography seen here looked like it required great fitness and challenging rehearsals to undergo.

“It’s one of the first senior dance concerts that I’ve seen in my five years since I’ve been here, it’s amazing to see that the dancing part of it is growing in a way where we are able to get actual student senior concerts now,” said Marks.

The entire production from start to finish was exceptional and audience members kept up an extended applause as every dancer and performer involved took their bows

For those who missed this spectacular display of dance and expression, there will other opportunities to see performances in the near future as the spring dance concert is approaching in mid April.