This weekend marked the final performance dates of the UW-Madison Department of Dance’s annual faculty concert, “Pillars.” The show took place in the Margaret H’Doubler Performance Space, a quaint yet elegant setting perfect for the event. Because of its movie theater setup, every member of the audience had the perfect view of the ground floor stage.
Considering this was my first time seeing a modern dance show, I was a little nervous about what to expect. Although the show was a new experience for me, the deeper meaning I felt coming from each of the six pieces was really intriguing. Quoting Jin-Wen Yu, Chris Walker and the concert coordinators’ opening statement in the program handed out before the show, “Pillars is a collection of creative work that conveys a kind of connectedness and support which are intrinsic to the human experience.”
The first piece titled “A Choice of Place” was an excerpt from CREDO, a show featuring dance, song and poetry that will premiere mid-April. It started with a dark stage and a young woman reciting poetry by Danez Smith, and was followed by the live UW Madrigal Singers performing religious choir songs. The dance consisted of a handful of female dancers in earth tone dresses, all having separate movements but coming together and breaking apart throughout the piece, similar to the connections we make in this life.
The second piece, “Portal,” reflected religion, starting out with a lone guitarist playing Band of Horses’ “The Funeral” next to a shrine with crosses and candle. The dancers came out with hoods on and walked onto a very dark stage. They proceeded to perform a ritual-like dance around the shrine and then broke out into separate movements all illustrating the struggles of death. The dancers ended fallen, leaving the audience on edge and surprised.
“Surge,” the show’s third piece, was very daunting. It began with a girl step dancing, setting an eerie and almost aggressive tone. The dancers wore all white with their faces painted white like masks. The combination of the white outfits, red lighting and chilling music left me feeling nervous and slightly disgusted, but at the same time I was extremely moved by this piece and the way the dancers moved with each other and apart.
After intermission, the interesting and powerful piece “Tacit Triggers” snapped the audience back to attention. The dancers represented robots with sharp and heavy movements. Whether it was the static bass music or the power felt coming from the dancers, this piece was the most memorable.
“Fresh Ground” was a beautiful piece that turned the show from eerie to hopeful very quickly. The music was powerful yet encouraging, and the dancers really came together with flowing motions and beautiful movements. Audience members could easily draw connections to this piece in the way it symbolized growing and growing together, and the ending picture of all the dancers with their arms linked facing away from the audience sent shivers throughout the crowd.
The final piece “D-Man in the Waters (Part I)” ended the show on a happy and uplifting note. The dancers wore army outfits and illustrated the aspect of togetherness. This talented group looked like they were having a blast performing this last piece, and it was infectious for the whole crowd. The dancers wrapped up the show with a combination of solo dances and group ones, bringing out the recurring theme of the importance of human connectedness.