As lights dimmed, cellphones chimed to sleep and programs rustled, dozens of SSU dancers clamored backstage, eager to perform. It was closing night of the Sonoma State Dance Department’s 2014 Spring Concert, and the energy in Person Theater was as alive as ever.
Starting big, the show opened with a number called “Suspect,” a piece that the SSU dance program performed at the American College Dance Association in Arizona this past March. The dance featured eerily soothing music as dancers clapped and slapped their way across the dance floor, while blue and gold lighting bathed the stage in an ethereal glow.
A quick change of pace came with the next piece, “The More You Think You See…” choreographed by Tony La in collaboration with the performers. Featuring a soundtrack mash-up of “Cups,” by Anna Kendrick, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk, and various other electronic songs, the dancers moved in incredibly sharp movements reminiscent of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew.” At times, their precision made them seem more like soulful robots rather than humans capable of error.
Haley Woods and Fiona Mackenzie took the stage for their duet entitled in Swedish, “Oroa Dig Inte,” or “Do Not Worry” in English. Featuring beautiful vocals by Icelandic band Sigur Rós, the duo leaped and twirled across the floor, using each other as propulsion more than the stage below. The red-lipped smiles on the dancers’ faces spoke just as much as their movements.
Immediately after, a change of pace came about with the in-your-face number “Anxiety/Ailments.” Dancers took the stage in a red and yellow light and dove into a gracefully violent number, sound-tracked with an Apocalyptica track. Ankle pulling and ground slapping added to the already intense vibes from the grungy, booming music, and short, jerky movements accented the piece even more. “My inspiration for this piece was the physical symptoms stress can impose on our bodies, and the further stress that this can place on both mind and body,” wrote choreographer Stephanie DeGroote in the program.
“Perceptions,” choreographed by Anthony S. Finley, featured recordings of the 10 dancers discussing what they believe “love” is, and each dancer performing their own freestyle solo. The topics ranged from romance to self-love, and ended with all of the dancers coming together and dancing to “Where is the Love” by the Black Eyed Peas. “Love is internal, love is eternal, love is powerful, but love is also unique. The viewpoint may change from person to person but the feeling will forever be universal,” wrote Finley.
As the first act came to a close, a piece titled “Home” featured a medley of musical stylings, ranging from “Sweet Disposition” by the Temper Trap to “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. Four pairs of sparkly red tennis shoes lined the front of the stage; as the piece progressed, four dancers approached the front of the stage and put the shoes on. For the ending, the quartet descended into the audience as an excerpt from “The Wizard of Oz” played, and a chorus of “There’s no place like home” quickly transitioned into the chorus of “Turn Down For What,” which left the audience exploding with raucous laughter.
“Pretty amazing, really,” said audience member Gus Sinks. When asked for his favorite piece, Sinks said “Home” was wonderfully done, and wondered if there was any correlation between the Wizard of Oz theme and the framed picture of Ray Bolger, the original scarecrow in the film, hanging in the lobby.
The second act was chock-full of talent and skillful choreography as a Gatsby-themed piece wowed the audience through a range of dance styles, costumes, and a soundtrack that included songs by Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey and Jay Z.
“When I am on Your Shoulders” was prefaced by choreographer Vanessa McCormick talking to the audience and telling them that tonight, her dancers had no idea what song they would be dancing to, and they would therefore have to rely on each other to stay on count. The surprise song was “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga; the dancers adapted beautifully, and closed the piece with a smile on every face. The show ended with a combination Hair/Age of Aquarius piece that featured tie-dyed shirts, bellbottom jeans and abundant headbands. Dancers jumped and twirled around energetically before inviting the rest of the cast onstage for the final bow, and closing the 2014 Spring Dance season.