The theatre, dance and performance studies school presented seven dance pieces from UMoves student performers Friday night, which ranged from experimental avant-garde to traditional cultural exhibitions. 

Students worked on their performances through a class in the school, which takes the choreographers through the brainstorming of their pieces as well as the professional process of auditions, rehearsals and production under artist-in-residence, Ama Law

Bathed in pink light, the dancers played off each other’s movements in duets, moving from the idea of the synchronization of relationships to wandering lost and searching for their missing piece. 

“We kind of lose ourselves … then we eventually find our original duet partner and we pull into a hug and it kind of comes full circle in that moment,” performer Julianne Garnett, a sophomore communication and dance major, said. “The person that we find is not necessarily what we’re looking for, but it’s still something.”

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The first piece, “I Miss You and You’re Right Here,” depicted the turmoil and complexities of personal relationships. It went from an upbeat and playful mood backed by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, to showing distress and turbulence with Bon Iver.

The performers took the concept of complicated relationships and expressed the emotions of the piece by connecting it to their personal experiences.

“I feel like I found myself also connecting it to my relationship with my sibling,” C Macko, a junior dance and environmental science and policy major, said.   I’ve really been able to channel my own personal relationship into the character that I’m portraying.” 

Another performance titled “Internal Warfare,” focused on ideas of self-doubt and realization through quick-paced and sharp hip-hop style movements. The piece used technological background images, such as television static and a staggered image of the dancer, to portray the idea of picking yourself apart and discovering who you are.

“RODA (Resisting Oppression through Dance),” had a more whimsical and playful energy by incorporating Brazilian culture. The dance invited the audience members to the stage to participate, forming a semi-circle around the dancing duo as they performed high-kicks, rolls to the ground and hand-clapping games.

The final piece, “forget my name, remember my brain,” was an avant-garde, contemporary dance that focused on the fear of death and coming to terms with its inevitability. 

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The intense piece used imagery of brain scans and neurons that confront the audience with the idea of mortality and the human experience. The dancers were draped in sheer curtains as they performed slow, haunting movements to a spoken word speech.

Senior computer science and dance major and choreographer of the piece, Emily Sheridan, said that many of the performers expressed how they were being confronted with their own fears of dying, but not being particularly anxious about it. Her thought process then shifted to tackling how the inevitability of death could be turned into a need to love others.

“It started as a sequencing of different existential intrusive thoughts that I have a lot,” Sheridan said. “There’s a lot of looking at death and what it means to die and this human urge we have to live forever, but the reality is we can’t, and how do we live with that?”