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Storytelling through dance

Troupe of fifteen showcases talent and technicality of portraying stories through art

Campus Correspondent

Published: Sunday, November 14, 2010

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 18:08

Dance speaks a language of its own, where movement mirrors the fierceness of words. At the Jorgensen Center of the Performing Arts Friday evening, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet told moving vignettes that displayed the intimacy and complexity of dance.

Recognized for merging music, movement and multimedia, Cedar Lake has leapt to the forefront of the dance world as critics acclaim its daring and electrifying approach to the grace of movement. The New York Times hails it as "dancing that pulls viewers right out of their seats."

Founded in 2003 by Wal-Mart heiress Nancy Laurie, this incredibly gifted troupe of 15 international dancers performs new commissioned works by many of the world's most inventive and progressive choreographers, fusing classical ballet with an edgy flair. Under the artistic direction of former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre member Benoit-Swan Pouffer, the company offers an intriguing and extensive repertoire, including pieces by Didy Veldman, Stijn Celis, Crystal Pite, Luca Veggetti, Hofesh Shechter and Angelin Preljocaj, truly rendering it an international operation. The program consisted of "Sunday Again," "Unit in Reaction" and "Hubbub" with two interludes. A question and answer session followed the performance.

According to Norwegian choreographer Joe Strømgren, "Leisure time is not good for certain types of relationships." Tinted with humor and exuberance, his piece, "Sunday Again," utilizes badminton as a metaphor to investigate "gender frictions" and explore the jousting of couples on a tense Sunday, interlacing "abstract movement patterns" with music by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Matthew Lacozza, a 1st-semester design and technical theater major, described the dancers' movements as "beautifully chaotic" and enjoyed the changes from "violence" to "serenity."

Italian choreographer Jacopo Godani imbued his piece, "Unit Reaction," with "geometric architecture" in his exploration of the "sensory overload" in our world of mass communication. With aggression pulsating throughout the work, a cast of six dancers moved with utter abandon, drawing attention to their impeccable technicality and to the sheer physicality of dance. The blend of heartbeat-like music by Ulrich Muller and Siegfried Rossert of 48Nord and the dimly lit stage created a moody and intense atmosphere.

Hartt School graduate David McWilliams said the piece "made [him] feel uneasy."

The evening ended with Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman's "Hubbub," a work that touches on issues of participation and criticism. The piece invited the audience to become interactive participants, just like the dancers who responded to the witty and pretentious commentator who proposed the "‘right' answers to the meaning of the piece." At one moment, the dancers, sporting beige attire, vaulted on and off desks. At another, they started forcefully breathing in rhythmic rapid-fire.

Annastasia Duffany, a 3rd-semester dance major at the University of Hartford Hartt School, said, "It taught us to question what we know as correct. You don't usually stand there for 10 minutes on the edge of the stage. But it worked for them. They broke a lot of rules."

"They seamlessly evolve into different movement qualities. They're really sequential as they carve space. But they're quick at the same time," Duffany said.

The dancers contorted, splayed and suspended their bodies through space, moving with fluidity and poise. Their visceral movement, at times intricately poetic and at times beautifully disturbing, both lulled and stirred the audience.

"I didn't know the body could move like that," said Clint Kuban, a pre-veterinary post-graduate at the University of Hartford.


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