The Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts wouldn’t have been complete without the arguably most engaging art form—dance. There is something instantly mesmerizing about human bodies in motion; every turn, kick and arm motion reveals careful attention to detail and oftentimes years’ worth of repetition. An absolutely necessary aspect of the festival, the Brandeis Ballet Company gave audiences the pleasure to see their semester-long efforts in the form of three flawless performances.
Titled “A Series of Balletic Events,” the Ballet Company performed on Sunday, April 17 at 4 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center Theater. Dancers who performed at the festival performance include Brooke Granovsky ’18, Hannah Schuster ’18 (news editor of The Brandeis Hoot), Johanna Doren ’16, Hannah McCowan ’19, Rachel Moore ’19, Frankie Marchan ’19 and Halley Geringer ’19, all of whom exhibited outstanding mastery of their craft. Many of the performers are also part of Adagio Dance Company, another dance group on campus.
Before the performance took off, president Hannah Schuster moderated a miniature demonstration to help audiences think differently about ballet as a dance style. In order to eliminate misconceptions about the dance form, the audience was asked to picture the most stereotypical ballet-like move they could think of—what instantly came to mind for the majority of the viewers is the dance position wherein the dancer raises both hands above the head in a circle-like formation, with the tips of the fingers touching. Not only is this improper form, but also a very limited perspective of what ballet actually is.
Schuster, alongside a few other dancers, dispelled many of the stereotypes as to the perceived notion of what ballet looks like, showcasing slight variations of standard moves. The idea here is that ballet is a more dynamic art form than most non-dancers give it credit for. Ballet may include plies, pirouettes and tendus, as well as the five basic positions, but there is so much more to ballet than just these steps—a fact which Brandeis Ballet Company tried to get across in the dance performance.
Aptly choreographed by Michelle Dennis ’18, “Hidden Language of the Soul” marked the initiation of the performance—a moment at which the audience got really quiet as though their breath had been stolen. With stellar choreography and mind blowing execution, the experienced dancers were able to use this art form “to say what words cannot.” From beginning to end, the number impressed with graceful, otherworldly dance moves that flawlessly blended together. The dancers also managed to be incredibly in sync with one another, a feat which can take years of training and a deep understanding of the music.
The second dance number, titled “Ophelia” after the song by the Lumineers, was masterfully choreographed by Schuster. As stated in the description, the point of the dance was to show how “at first, the dancers are in their own worlds, and it is not until partway through that the choreography becomes upbeat and the dancers begin to interact with each other.” This time donning outfits with dark, skin-tight pants and shirts with various blue hues, there was an immeasurable amount of coordination, passion and zest that the dancers expertly showcased through each and every move. The choreography showed just how graceful the human form can be when put in motion—the moves, reminiscent of birds taking flight, were an outright blessing to lay eyes on.
“Weight in Gold,” the last dance routine in the performance, delightfully topped off the event and left viewers hungry for more. Choreographed by Granovsky, the dance moves were intended to blend the “elements of hip-hop dance crews with ballet technique and modern floor choreography” in an attempt to pay homage to the songwriter, Gallant’s, mixed musical style. Unlike any ballet routine I have ever witnessed, this performance in particular was awe-inspiring at every turn, with cutting-edge choreography and well-finessed movements.
What the 20-minute performance lacked in quantity, it more than made up for in quality. An altogether enjoyable experience from start to end, the Ballet Company delivered a dance performance that is in direct competition with Adagio Dance Company’s semester shows—and the Adagio Dance Company just might be trailing behind.
The Brandeis Ballet Company is a performance group that is an extension of the Brandeis Ballet Club, which offers free beginner and intermediate ballet classes with a professional instructor on campus.