Moved by emotion: the dance ensemble skillfully prepares for the “masquerade”
One foot hovers just above the ground. Descending to embrace the scene, he meets the ground, supporting the standing person. One foundation, one stride. Much of our nature relies on walking – standing gracefully. The step energizes the human spirit, gives us movement and grace.
Whether it’s a sharp burst of energy or a slow, docile kiss on the ground, the step remains the cornerstone of the dance. With determination and balance, the step brings security to the dancer, releasing her from the stored energy of a single step in a burst of grace and movement throughout her body. The Boston College Dance Ensemble harnesses this simple power in all of their performances to create some of the most compelling and visually captivating shows on the Robsham stage. Dance Ensemble defended progression and tradition. From the casual frolics of jazz to the dreamy skill of ballet, this troupe embraces an eclectic skill set. Although the group look to the future as they prepare for their final show, Masquerade, Dance Ensemble keeps a skilful foot on the pulse of its artistic base.
The Dance Ensemble has a rich 37-year tradition in British Columbia â the dance group is the University’s oldest still in operation. As such, the organization has inherited a wealth of knowledge and traditions from previous iterations of the team. Transmitting leadership within the organization is a responsibility that enables the organization to thrive both on and off the stage.
âWe have a strong history. It’s a well-established and well-managed dance group, âsaid Emily Durkin, group director and MCAS ’17. âIf I could show you what has been transmitted to us, these are just pages and pages of what to do that maintains institutional continuity.
Part of this continuity comes to life thanks to the links with his former students, who make themselves available to critique the ensemble’s pre-performance. As Durkin explained, their advice gives feedback during the critical period of performance polishing. This unique and invaluable type of exchange allows Dance Ensemble’s networking to bear fruit, allowing previous generations to influence the group in its current incarnation. This desire and commitment for alumni to be part of this organization outside of their own mandate speaks volumes about the integrity of the troop. Dance Ensemble represents a kind of ensemble of dance skills that transcends British Columbia and its campus proper.
The organization not only taps into the creative wells of seasoned dancers and alumni, but also those of its current members. Dance Ensemble performances are tailored to the vision of an individual choreographer. This vision comes to life through an intimate knowledge of technical skills and creative dexterity. Drawing on reservoirs of past dance experiences, choreographers are well equipped to translate their own skills into a collective dance setting.
âMost of us trained in dance, jazz, ballet, lyric or tap dance because we could walk,â said Durkin.
About half of the girls in the troupe have a solid foundation in jazz or ballet. But the ability of dancers to learn new skills and develop others is a routine within the organization. With this high level of competence, Dance Ensemble can fruitfully transform individual talents into collective creative energy.
âEach of the members brings their own level of creativity to the table,â said Kelly Sangster, Deputy Director and MCAS ’17. âWhen you combine that with someone else’s, you are able to produce these visual pieces, and I think it shows how we are successful as a group and not just as individuals. “
Dance Ensemble practices over 20 hours per week to ensure that each dancer can stay as crisp and shiny as the one next to them. Often, Sangster explained, the group hires professionals to teach them their expertise to sharpen the skills of each member of Dance Ensemble.
âWe don’t just focus on producing the pieces to be played across campus, but we are also focused on maintaining our training and maintaining the quality of all of our dancers on the team,â Sangster said.
This is not to say that there is no room for individuals to bring out a unique voice within the whole. In the art of choreography, members can find ways to bring out their personal ideas and visions. The result is often something personal and intimate, even if two people are choreographing the same type of dance.
This idea manifests itself through the choreographer’s reflections, enveloped in personal circumstances and fueled by their own vision. Choreographers can convey ideas to their dancers, to whom the dancers interpret the vision through their individual performance.
âA lot of choreographers specify an emotion for their dance, and you can take it anywhere you want,â Durkin said.
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Thus, the final performance is fueled by the choreographer’s global vision, materialized by the collective interpretation of the dancers. A reluctant ballet performance is seen through the diminishing movements and stern faces of its dancers, while a cheerful contemporary piece will adopt a more free-spirited display. For Durkin and Sangster, this kind of emotional backbone is more artistically fulfilling than a purely technical display.
“We find the movement driven by an emotion or a story to be more compelling to the audience and the dancers,” said Durkin.
This, Durkin explains, keeps the dancers, literally, and the audience, figuratively, on their toes.
And it is precisely this movement that makes many Dance Ensemble performances openly or discreetly touching.
âBy combining your body, you are able to express levels of emotion that you just can’t with your face or just your voice,â Sangster said. “Or even a song, adding that instrumental background, because you don’t borrow the emotion from the song you’re dancing to, you add that emotion with your face and combine it with your body.”
This kind of emotion is not monotonous, however, as each style elicits a different feeling. Durkin explained that the possibilities are endless and multifaceted in and between rooms. From cheerful jazz to sad contemporary or just plain beautiful ballet and tap dance, the emotional range the dance allows is astounding, and Durkin explained just how malleable the art form is.
Performance, on the part of Dance Ensemble, is imperative in conveying emotion through art.
âEvery time you move abruptly you feel a different emotion than if you move smoothly, and I think that is really a testament to the differentiation between all of the styles that we do,â Sangster said.
But such emotional affectation is lost if it is not shared, which is why, especially for the art form, the audience remains a crucial and inseparable component. Without the audience, visual beauty is never seen and the intellectual challenge is lost for many dancers.
“There is a limitation without the audience.” Sangster said. “I think the audience brings a lot of each member when they perform.”
For Durkin and Sangster, knowing that someone is witnessing the performance, regardless of the size of the crowd, creates a sort of unspoken energy on stage. It is the fuel that creates more meaning in the moments between movements, connecting one pose to another, connecting the audience to the dancers.
âDancing is really about the connection between moments,â Sanger said.
Dance Ensemble knows that these moments, as evidenced by its history, are just a few marks on a page of a larger story. As such, he invests a great deal of their time in the future of those inside and outside their organization.
Friendship and love are the ammunition upon which the organization thrives. Dance Ensemble donates all of its ticket sales to the Campus School. Inside, it invests in a future of success and progress by rigorously maintaining the quality and popularity of its shows. Durkin and Sangster explain that it is important to continuously gain recognition from students within the group to reach new people in order to maintain the membership cycle and encourage those who do not have friends in the community of. the dance of British Columbia to engage in its vibrancy.
Dance Ensemble only had six weeks to prepare Masquerade, but its efficiency makes it ready for this Friday and Saturday. Its balance, in the face of such a challenge, attests to the deep and warm roots marked out on this campus. But within that challenge comes some of the sweetest rewards leading to a performance.
âIn that week when it’s crazy there’s a million things going on, we’re pulling all the stops to make this show happen and run smoothly,â Sangster said. âThis is when you create the best memories. This is when you have the most fun with your 30 best friends.
Watching Dance Ensemble one thing remains clear: it was not just individuals, but a collective entity of friends merging to form something grander than any single artist. Many aspects of the performance of the group are reminiscent of a school of fish, a collective sensitivity. The overall, unified movement is captured by the small, refined contributions of each dancer. Under the lights of the stage, as if moving under the rays of the sun piercing the surface of the ocean, the majesty of such movements captures a raw bodily beauty not unlike those enshrined in the machinations of the nature.
The movement is crucial for humanity as a whole – without it we risk stagnation. Watching such breathtaking footage requires being open to transcend our seats in the audience and enter a deeper state of passion with those on stage.
âWatch out for emotion. Be open to the room you see and be moved by it. Sangster said. âBe open to being moved by this. “
Featured Image by Shaan Bijwadia / Heights Staff