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RDT spring show offers memorable experience

By Taylor Johnson     5/15/08 7:00pm

Rice Dance Theatre's spring show, "Dancing on the Edge," did not keep me sitting on the edge of my seat during the performance. Having gone to see the show on a man-date with my roommate, I recall looking over at him after the first dance after intermission and saying, "There are three dances left? Mistake."Despite the initial negative reaction I garnered from the show, however, it seems much more powerful as I look back on it a month later. The dancers moved across the stage gracefully and beautifully in most cases, and the synchronization between them was not without flaw, but it was admirable. The lighting of the stage was filled with a variety of usually deep and dark, cool colors. One dance utilized a strobe light and included a warning in the program for epileptics. The strobe light turned out to be so weak, though, that I doubt the most sensitive of epileptics could have gone into seizure, and this potentially dynamic visual just fizzled instead of adding sizzle.

The dreamscape dance sticks out most vividly in my mind, with its harsh and brash transition of music and motion from a girl's peaceful and serene bedtime ritual into a nightmare world. That world quickly faded into a joyous occasion for dance, however, and all the dancers on stage clearly enjoyed themselves as much as projected, mimicking the flowing motion of the sleeping girl's streamer with their smooth movements.

Politically-themed remixed music, business dress and awkward, angular moves came together to make a statement about today's world in one dance. The outfits were cute and the dance articulated the music, but the the message really came from the auditory component, not the dancers. The idea was good, but again, the choreography and dancing could have done more to emphasize

the message.

Of the remaining six dances in the show, none particularly stepped it up; nonetheless, they had their successes. Outfits coordinated well with each other - some with bright colors, others rather plain and droll - but they also worked together with the lighting and the music to present a well-coordinated performance in each case. The choreography appeared well-designed and executed, with the assortment of rather angular and awkward movements often typical of modern dance coming to the forefront throughout the show. Despite this propensity toward the awkward, traditional flowing movements abounded as well, and the dancers looked as though they had a mastery of all of these varying moves.

Despite my initial close-minded reaction to my first experience with modern dance, I am glad I went to the show, and I would go again in the future. Improvements could certainly be made to RDT's spring show, with the biggest disappointment being the weakness of that strobe light. If done properly and without fear of the overpowering results, it could have left images of the dance burned in my mind that would not have required such a long afterthought before I could enjoy the overall good quality of the performance.

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