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Students as ornate canvasses astound in ‘Liquid Latex’

By Mia Edelstein

Section: Arts

March 31, 2017

The lights dimmed, and the room roared as Liquid Latex attendees cheered on classmates minutes away from dancing their hearts out on stage covered in nothing but thongs and Latex paint.

“The Devil Wears Nada,” the 17th-annual iteration of “Liquid Latex” played to a packed Levin Ballroom on Tuesday, March 28. Seven performances marked by intricate design, playful choreography and big smiles left the crowd energized.

Most noticeable was the show’s composition. There were no runway pieces like there have been in years past, and no dancers were clothed. With only seven dances, the show was just over an hour long.

“Uptown Funk” blared through the speakers to open the night, with the audience reaching the high note after Bruno Mars sings, “Girls, hit your hallelujah.” In “A Dance Down Memory Lane,” designed and choreographed by Samantha Rockey ’17, models were each painted to represent a hit from the past, like “Thriller,” or present, like “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” Songs from the 1970s and 1980s were sandwiched between more modern songs. One of “Liquid Latex’s” best characteristics is how peers support each other during daring choreography, cheering loudly. This piece’s highlight was easily the string lights draped across Vanessa Alamo’s ’17 body as she danced to “The Electric Slide.”

“Planet Earth” followed with beautiful artwork depicting seven different ecosystems. Inspired by the BBC series of the same name, the dance mixed music with the voiceover clips from the television show, explaining the spectacular nature on stage. The lighting matched each featured dancer. For instance, as Maggie Lacwasan ’17 approached the runway as the jungle-themed model, the lights turned a bright green. The paint job was spectacular, bringing to life ice worlds and mountain ranges. This piece’s choreography was less advanced than the first dance’s and looked more akin to a party on stage, but it was evident that the models were having a blast. Playing on the words of the dance’s final song, “There’s no place I’d rather be,” the group unfurled a sign that read, “There is No Planet B,” the night’s most political moment.

Paying tribute to rock legends, “Psychedelic Psikness” reinvigorated the audience. The latex designs resembled outfits the artists would have worn, and many were strikingly realistic, almost requiring a double take to make sure the models were not wearing actual clothing. One by one, the models took to center stage to rock out as their character, some playing air guitar, others dancing. Behind them, the remaining models were always in sync as they performed a very packed routine of choreography.

An abridged version of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” closed the first act. To give the piece an authentic touch, it began by featuring the film’s trademark mouth (typically against a black background) painted on the back of Courtney Garvey ’19. Brad (Charlie Catino ’20) and Janet (Lily Feinson ’19) followed a fun “Dammit Janet” with terrified facial expressions and body language as the rest of the “Wild and Untamed Thing” cast welcomed them to The Frankenstein Palace during the iconic “Time Warp.” Reizl Halikman ’19 and Rebecca Kahn ’19, who played a great spooky and disdainful version Magenta and Columbia. Dr. Frank N. Furter’s (Josh Rubenstein ’19) dramatic entrance was underscored by flashing lights of all colors. Rubenstein commanded the room as he strutted out on the runway for his rendition of “Sweet Transvestite.” Cries of, “Say it!” rang through the audience during the Dr.’s classic line taunting the young couple, “I see you shiver with antici—pation.”

“Neverland’s Mythical Creatures” opened the second act, taking liberty with the Peter Pan locale’s residents. A leprechaun, unicorn, phoenix, forest nymph and dragon were part of the cast, in addition to the traditional mermaid and fairy. The artwork on Liana Gerecht’s ’17 mermaid “tail” was particularly stunning. Its iridescence transformed Gerecht’s skin into almost lifelike scales. The audience shared a laugh as an audio clip from “Charlie the Unicorn”—a famous 2007 YouTube video—ushered in Abigail Rothstein’s ’17 unicorn’s solo. Moments later, Caleb Dafilou ’17 stole the show as he launched into a back handspring and other acrobatics as the piece’s dragon.

Next was the sultriest act of the night, “Horoscope Hip Hop.” Eleven dancers were painted as the star signs; though as the group noted in the program, they were missing a Gemini. As each model was featured on the runway, she danced in a manner representative of the horoscope sign painted on her back. The backup dancing was less intricate and often slower than previous pieces, so the variety and complexity of artwork on the models was the real standout. The piece seemed to end abruptly. The lights and music cut, but it seemed to have been a mistake, as even the dancers looked confused before they walked off stage.

The night’s final performance traced Lady Gaga’s transformation over her musical career. The “Evolution of Gaga” models represented different albums the artist has released, such as “The Fame Monster” (Liquid Latex General Coordinator Morgan Winters ’17) and “Joanne” (Brittany Duncan ’18). The dancers imitated Gaga’s often stiff and robotic choreography style very well as they moved seamlessly through five Gaga albums and kept the audience electrified until the end.

In a classic Liquid Latex finale, each group posed on the runway to deafening applause and cheers before retreating to the background. As the company of more than 50 dancers took their final bow, the stage vibrated with breathtaking artwork and confidence.

Originally conceived as a one-time performance during the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts in 2000, “Liquid Latex” is unimaginable as anything other than a yearly campus tradition.

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