The annual Tower Dancers’ concert last weekend show­cased the student dancers’ cre­ativity, grace, and mastery of the art. Courtesy | Lilly Schmitz

As the crowd sim­mered down and the lights faded out, the long-awaited Tower Dancers slowly tiptoed onto the stage. The music invited the audience into the moment. The opening notes of Strauss’ “Vienna” played, and the dancers began to move.

The annual Tower Dancers’ concert last weekend show­cased the student dancers’ cre­ativity, grace, and mastery of the art. With the dancers audi­tioning for various audi­tions in early Sep­tember, assistant pro­fessor of dance Holly Hobbs said dancers rehearsed one and a half to six hours a week, depending on how many dances they par­tic­i­pated in.

“The com­mitment of the chore­o­g­ra­phers to create dances of high artistic merit, the hard work by the 23 dancers, and the out­standing tech­nical designers and crew all con­tributed to the success of the per­for­mances,” Hobbs said.  

Four stu­dents chore­o­graphed five pieces for the show. Senior Colleen Prince chore­o­graphed two.

“It was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve been a part of a lot,” Prince said. “Each dance had its own journey, its own process, and I think each chore­o­g­rapher had some­thing really amazing to bring to the table.”

The show began with “Spring Waltz,” a more light-hearted ballet piece com­posed of  14 dancers. Fol­lowing this number, the recital turned to more somber themes. One dance in par­ticular, “As the Leaves Fall,” stood out to audience member and freshman Vika Nunez.

“It was incredible show of trans­for­mation,” Nunez said. “I really enjoyed how the colors, the cos­tumes, as well as the fil­tered light design on the stage helped make the dance stand out. The music was so beau­tiful and the expres­sions on each of the dancers’ faces as they poured them­selves into their dance really moved me.”

Though the Tower Dancers gave an informal showing of the per­for­mance in early December, freshman Tower Dancer Sophia Berryhill noted the dif­ference which the addition of both cos­tumes and lighting make to the show. From the bold red capes in “Bolero” to the  dappled yellow lighting in “As the Leaves Fall,” Berryhill said the cos­tumes and lighting embraced the spe­cific ideas behind each dance.

“Each chore­o­g­rapher had some­thing in mind when they were making the piece, and I think the lighting adds to that and brings the piece alive through the mind of the chore­o­g­rapher,” Berryhill said.  “It can change the dynamic of the piece, whether you use cool colors, warm colors, or spot­lights. Any­thing you do with lighting really brings the piece together.”

Each dance was dis­tin­guished by its own char­acter. With several stu­dents chore­o­graphing the show, there was not one ongoing theme. According to Hobbs, the dances each pos­sessed an indi­vidual artistic statement. For Hobbs, the liberal arts foun­dation greatly con­tributed to the chore­o­g­ra­phers’ cre­ativity.

“Dances com­mu­nicate their artistic intent through abstraction,” Hobbs said. “This requires critical thinking, syn­thesis, per­sonal expression, and cre­ative problem-solving. All of these cri­teria are closely aligned with char­ac­ter­istics found in a liberal arts edu­cation. This makes our stu­dents uniquely pre­pared to combine their knowledge about other areas of study with dance.”

A member of the Tower Dancers for all four years of college, senior Colleen Prince per­formed her solo, “Security,” a dance she per­sonally chore­o­graphed. Incor­po­rating dance moves to mimic pat-downs, handcuff posi­tions, or placing her arms above her head, Prince was inspired by the Trans­portation Security Administration’s airport security trauma that resulted from the addition of Pro­vision scanners after 9/11. According to Prince, many people undergo “humil­i­ating or invasive pat-downs” and are hes­itant to walk through the poten­tially insecure Pro­Vision scanners, which dig­i­tally strip the indi­vidual of clothing, to check for weapons.

“From there, the dance grew into a com­mentary of how we live in a place that is very secure com­pared to the rest of the world, but we live in con­stant anxiety and fear of inse­curity,” Prince said. “I’m asking the question, ‘how far is society willing to go in dehu­man­izing people under the pre­tense of keeping us secure?”’

As the show came to a close, the dancers filed the stage for the closing number, “Bolero.” Senior Katherine DuHadway and junior Stephen Rupp per­formed a dra­matic duet to the steady rhythm, as the music rose to full crescendo for the finale.

To DuHadway, the show was “a great success.”

“It’s the high­light of my semester to show the hard work that we put in. It’s not a big thing that people know about until the per­for­mance. It was really rewarding to show, in a tan­gible way, all the dif­ferent dancers and all the time and effort that they all put it,” DuHadway said.