Both within pieces and between them, Boston College Dance Ensemble exercises a certain level of craft. In a moment between pieces, rose petals remained strewn about the floor from the last performance. The Robsham stage remained open, however, as the girls silhouetted by the stage light swept the petals off stage with Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” playing overhead. The heavy guitar chords comically contrasted with the tender dances of the evening. The audience gave them a hearty set of applause as they went back for successive passes. This is a simple occasion emblematic of the character of Dance Ensemble in its latest show, Masquerade. In dances and outside of them, the troupe allows the audience to find something at which to smile.
Opening the show was “Solo Dance,” choreographed by the group’s officers. The dance was an impressive display of layered movements and brisk synchronicity. The feel of the piece was as a moving picture as the shapes created by the dancers were embellished by bows and bends that revealed dancers in the farther back on the stage. These dancers too, through the use of their upper bodies, waved and whipped to make ornate the scene on stage. Collectively, the dancers lent themselves to this overarching movement, while individuals could be seen engaging in personal flair. This dance gives off the impression that there was something unique and engaging to be found on the face of every dancer should one look for it.
“Experience,” choreographed by Juliette Swersky, MCAS ’19, adopted a different kind of step. Quietly, as if rebuking sound, the dancers deftly pranced on stage. As the music swelled, the steps quickened, but remained just as silent and graceful. The bodies of the dancers sometimes adopted angular positions with raised shoulders and slanted arms. Additionally, the dancers formed strong lines and, at one point, a powerful diagonal spanning the entire stage, adding further to the angled nature. These movements in combination with the calculated steps gave the dancers the appearance of marionettes.
The use of rose petals in “Incomplete,” choreographed by Sara Barrett, MCAS ’17, added another level of emotional charge to the already passionate dance. Visually, the red petals contrasted beautifully with the dancers’ white dresses. Quiet and moving, the piece had dancers at multiple points pick up the petals and jettison them into the air. As the dancers transitioned into their next move, there was to be a point of contrast or mimicry, as they jumped into the air or fell to the ground, and the petals followed gravity.
Exploring ideas of control and resistance, “You Don’t Own Me,” choreographed by Abigail Funari MCAS ’18, saw these ideas manifest physically. Paired off in twos, the girls were separated by dress, one sporting a sparkling gold dress and the other sparkling black. Throughout the song, the black exercised control over the gold, making her do as commanded through hand gestures. One particularly impressive action had the black pushing and pulling above the gold. The gold responded to these actions through undulations through their center of mass as they remained arched backwards.
To close out the first act, “Salute,” choreographed by Caroline Dorko and Michaela Etre, both CSON ’19, saw dancers sternly clad in camo. Highly choreographed to the song, the dancers moved with it and reacted to lyric moments quickly. This created a fun and pointed overall package for the piece. The end of the dance garnered the biggest roar of approval as the dancers stepped to the edge of the stage, with some sitting and others standing. All together, they gave a swift salute to the side as the lights faded. This final visual image was strong and quaint.
“Silhouettes and Sand,” choreographed by Karen Krieg, CSOM ’19, contained six dancers with three en pointe. This division created a compelling pairing among the movements of the six, as their movements often looked quite similar when lined together. The complexity of the pointe work was more keenly visible as the numbers were split, allowing for the sprite-like qualities of the style to show through more clearly. Each step was as purposeful as it was graceful.
Masquerade was a true showing of the eclectic dance stylings of Dance Ensemble. Its ability to take such varied techniques and meld them into one cohesive and engaging piece attests to their strength as an organization. Though called Masquerade, the talents of Dance Ensemble were not so easily hidden behind an ornate mask.