This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the University of Wisconsin’s dance department’s spring concert, “Proximity.” Featuring 11 contemporary group and solo pieces choreographed by students Alexis Aguilar, Kat Cameron, Grace Deane, Henry Holmes, Flora Kim, Hiroki Koba, Courtney Kuhn, Tiffany Merritt-Brown and Shauna Shrewsbury, the show proved that the UW dance department has much to be proud of.
It’s easy to tell these performers are passionate about what they do and that they were proud of the work that they had accomplished to make this a successful show. From the lighting to the costumes, every dance number was well-polished, and the dancers themselves were exceptional. Even with all of the pieces being of a contemporary style, each one brought in unique elements that reflected the work of the choreographer’s experiences and reflections.
Some notable performances included “Honey,” choreographed by Holmes, whose solo piece was a mix between dance and a humorous theatrical monologue, as well as “Consociate,” choreographed by Cameron. Cameron’s piece was filmed at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and featured camera angles from both the first and third person; this interesting piece was projected on one of the theater’s screens. Kim’s interpretation of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” was absolutely stellar (with quite a creative title, “I’mperfection”). In the final dance entitled “Foliage,” (choreographed by Koba) a piano was brought on stage and the audience was serenaded by the sounds of Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”
Each dance told a different story, and each story was captivating and enjoyable. It’s impressive that these physical narratives could be told in five minutes or less. In Merritt-Brown’s solo piece, “Absence,” she explored feelings of loneliness through her graceful movements and facial expressions as the voice of Alberto Pupo, a spoken word artist in Miami, was projected above the music, saying, “It wasn’t meant to be this way … absence was the root of it all.” Aguilar’s “I” included various ripple effects between the three dancers as each one used their arms to recreate the motion of a ticking clock.
“Proximity” was a show brimming with extraordinary talent, piano playing and paper plane making (yes, you read that right). Above all else, it was a testament to the greatness of the UW dance department.