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.