I reviewed a dance performance at Beloit College, so the New York Times would be an inappropriate target publication. I wrote this aiming for something more like the Beloit Daily News, the town's paper.
It opens with a group of women staring at a single dancer near the front of the stage. They tap their hands and feet with a sense of urgency, shoving each other when they get too close. The dancers’ faces dramatically express judgment and apprehension as they fight for attention.
The theme of competition knits together the dances at “Chelonia,” Beloit College’s annual spring semester dance program. Though the pieces are choreographed by different students, faculty members and guests, they flow seamlessly into one another.
The standout moments, though, come during two pieces that depart from this theme. A duet by senior Mia Alcorn portrays a relationship gone wrong in an a capella piece that is so synchronized it is hard to notice the lack of music.
Senior dancers Nora Anderson and Michael Kreiser have perfect chemistry. He seems to dance through her while she follows him around with wide eyes, begging silently for attention. Their everyday attire — a sundress, and a dress shirt and pants — grounds the act in reality while red lighting suggests otherworldly intimacy.
The emotion in Anderson’s voice at the end as she cries out, “Please, listen to me,” cues dark blue lighting, sadness. Their bodies flop, defeated.
A solo by junior Santiago Quintana choreographed by faculty member Gina T’ai is equally outstanding, although lighter. Quintana pushes himself across the width of the stage on a pile of gym mats, never stepping on the floor. He wears a frilly white skirt, which is as much a part of the dance as is his body.
Quintana seems like a six year old playing dress up in his room. A spotlight trained on him hints at visions of grandeur; it cuts out only once when the screen at the back of the stage turns teal and his silhouette is accentuated. In this moment, he does exaggerated shadow puppets with his hands.
It is a humorous moment in a lineup that has a lot of intensity. Group dances with four to nine people dominate the show. The dancers are well trained and highly skilled, giving professionalism to a student performance.
The show ends on an unexpected note, with a large group number set to a mix of Chopin and top-40 hip-hop music. It doesn’t fit in with the rest of the program, but it is a fun way to remind the audience that this is, indeed, a college show.