Most Boston College students cross O’Neill Plaza countless times each week. As they tread the diagonal path that skews it, they are treated to an impressive view of Gasson Hall, and, of course, the well-manicured grass—ever the perfect hue of green. On Friday, however, those who happened upon O’Neill were treated to a different visual experience entirely. Smack in the middle of the grass was a large white tent, inside which members of various on-campus dance groups wowed audiences during the annual Boston College Arts Fest “‘Critics’ Choice Dance Showcase.”
Though the day was aggressively hot and sunny, as the first group, African-dance team Presenting Africa to You (PATU), took the stage and onlookers were transported via mystical Egyptian music into the world of Cleopatra. PATU, using both traditional and modern African dance techniques, presented a vibrant number, dotted with humorous voice-overs between Cleopatra and her lover Julius Caesar. The culmination of these exchanges, a reprise of PATU’s performance in the AHANA Leadership Council Showdown in early April, led to a sassy end as Cleopatra exclaimed, “Caesar I don’t need you and neither does Egypt. Remember, girls do run the world.”
PATU was followed by the Dance Organization of BC (DOBC) which presented a contemporary piece called “Holy Man.” The dance, not at all lacking in DOBC’s usual technical excellence, was smooth, wavelike, and compassionate. The piece’s fluidity gracefully ended with an emotional embrace between two dancers.
The elegant performance by DOBC contrasted sharply with the next dance by hip-hop group “Phaymus” who graced the stage with a vivacious urban feel via their dance to an upbeat hip-hop medley. Bright white sneakers accentuated their impressive footwork as the audience came alive to hits including “Juju on that Beat” by Zayion McCall and Zay Hilfigerrr and “Caroline” by Amine.
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Next, the Golden Eagles Dance Team took the stage, performing a lilting lyrical number choreographed by dance captain Rachel Vishanoff, MCAS ’18. The dance featured a recurring motif of passionate arm reaches, a move impossible not to be moved by.
Korean hip-hop group AeroK, donned gold jackets as they treated the audience to an equally golden performance. Dancing to a medley of rap anthems, AeroK gave a mysterious outlaw vibe complemented by black masks, fans, and white cloths that served as props. As rap hit “Low Life” by Future filled the speakers, AeroK, wearing the masks, exuded invincibility and unbridled energy in a truly powerful performance.
In another lyrical number, this time performed by the BC Dance Ensemble, audiences were swept away via a truly riveting performance to pop music laden with deep bass beats. In a swirl of glittering black skirts and dancers weaving between each other amid mesmerizing turns, splits, and leg-lifts requiring the utmost flexibility, Dance Ensemble delivered impressively.
This dance was followed by Full Swing, who presented a “Bonnie and Clyde” themed number featuring a police chase of the famed couple—clad in shocking red. Full Swing delivered twirling, jumping, cartwheeling, and an experience so reminiscent of “old fashioned fun,” it was impossible not to absorb some of the pure happiness this group exuded.
BC Irish Dance (BCID) clad in shiny blue dresses gave a rousing performance that subverted expectations. As the piece began traditional Irish music fit corgially with with traditional step. Later on, however, the troupe segued into the decidedly more modern “All Night” by Chance the Rapper, and culminated with pop hit “Kill the Lights” by Alex Newell and D.J. Cassidy accompanied by flashing lights and a flurry of prancing feet. As the songs changed so did the stylings of BCIDs feet, steps, and emotiveness.
Latin dance group Fuego del Corazon closed out the performance with a fiery routine full of swirling fringe skirts, gravity-defying lifts, and churning hip movements to upbeat salsa music. One of many highlights of this routine was a massive lift in perfect sync with the lyric “How would you like to fly,” a coalition of visual and audio elements that created a powerful sensory moment.
As Fuego left the stage, many audience members remained in their seats for an extra moment, basking in the rich, colorful world the dance groups had created. Many seemed reluctant to leave the oasis of the tent and return to the sunny quad outside. The grass was greener on the outside of the tent, but the pure vibrancy of vivacity and passion channeled through exemplary dance performances left one wishing for a few more stolen minutes before leaving the tent and returning to whatever responsibilities lay in its exterior.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor