Extravagant masquerades, acrobatics and a mystery
It was the usual mixed demographic
of performance goers: a
few stray professors, a fairly large
group of Waterville residents,
friends of the dancers and the
group of students who had heard
about the performance through
hearsay. But combined, they
formed a full house for the Colby
Dance Theater performance on
Friday evening, April 17.
Through the chatter rising from various niches of this crowd, you could just barely catch the faint tinkering of a percussion instrument near the stage below. It was Todd Borgerding (Associate Professor of Music) sitting in front of his harpsichord and playing a selection of early Baroque music as the audience waited for the show to commence.
The lights went off, then were turned on soon after, and Borgerding was no longer by his instrument.
Instead, he had reappeared beside the still figures of four masked ladies, who were dressed in balletlike garb with stiff, important-looking Victorian collars around their necks.
Dressed for a masquerade, these girls were to dance the "Balleto de la belle - zza" to the musical sounds that the audience had been given a preview of just moments before. Performed by dancers Elana Cogliano '09, Hannah Goodwin '12, Allie Stitham '12 and Anna Tanasijevic '12, the ballet was polite, tranquil and compelled the imagination to drift to a time long ago when extravagant balls were pleasant rituals of entertainment that fair ladies and polite gentlemen paid tribute to. Perhaps it wasn't the most energy--or awe-- generating of the five segments, but the ballet was a pleasant opener that allowed the audience to become acquainted with the rest of the show. The performance gained momentum with its second and third segments "Mission to the Moon" featuring Cassie Coleman '11, Lindsay Dale '12, Liz Davidson '11, Ali Lavine '11, Ellen Morris '11, Katie Ouimet '11 and Abby West '11; and "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick" with dancers Cogliano, Goodwin and Tanasijevic. "Mysteries," based on a book titled The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Alsburg, teased the onlooking audience with its jestful choreography.
The curiosity and adventurous spirit of the three-person detective team was contagious and it wasn't long before the troupe had locked the attention of every member of the audience, all of whom laughed as they joined the dancers in spirit on their imagined chase after an unknown and invisible, but nonetheless coveted, object.
After the playful fiasco of the third segment, seeing the next segment, "Halmoni," was like being jolted awake from a mild dream to face the despondent and macabre features of reality. Dedicated to the band of Korean "halmoni" (meaning "grandmothers"), as was the groups self-titled moniker, the choreography depicted the horrors that these women had been subjected to as "comfort women" of the occupying Japanese military during the Second World War. Accompanied by an unsettling collection of music--what sounded like jarbled sound clips of the Korean survivors set to a heavily somber tune--the dancers first demonstrated the capture, then the violent rape, and finally the ineradicable memories of the halmonis' past. Half dragging their feet from physical and mental exhaustion, the dancers trudged toward the center stage-- each carrying a dark leaden box as she did so--to show how the burden of the past was an permanent weight that the group of halmoni would be forced to carry as long as they lived.
Finally came the closing segment, "A Lofty Tango," performed by Cogliano, Goodwin and Ouimet and reminiscent of the acrobatic dips and dives that aerialists from Nimble Arts had performed in Strider Theater only a few months before. Yet witnessing the trio perform its act--from what seemed to be at least ten feet above the ground--felt just as frightening. But vertigo? The girls had none; rather, they climbed the suspended silk sashes and hanging bars as if they were born into the profession. The clearly awed audience clapped wildly in response to their remarkable performance and thus ended Colby Dance Theater's display of eclectic choreographic and dance talent.