By BETHANY HUANG
Most dances are set to a song, but one of the first performances in Dance Company’s show this year is set to slam poetry, fitting for the show’s theme, “Turning Pages.” The poem, “Troll” by Shane Koyczan, uses the trolls of fairytales to discuss heavier topics like internet trolls and cyber bullying. The poem opened with “Once upon a time, / You and all your kind lived underneath bridges,” and the dance began with performers acting as “trolls” underneath a bridge made of books.
Despite being one of the trolls, Nashalah McNamara (Sr.) ascended onto the bridge. Even though the other trolls tore at her shirt, scratched her legs and attempted to bruise anything they could reach, she renounced her life as a troll by throwing away her ripped short, revealing a white tank underneath. One by one, the other trolls followed. “Trolls” ended on a chillingly powerful sentence: “We will not let you make dinners out of the things we feel.”
Angelica Busciglio (Sr.) co-choreographed “Trolls,” her favorite piece from the show, with McNamara. Busciglio said, “I love how this piece really makes the dancers tap into their deepest darkest emotions and it is just so raw and real.”
Snow white’s seven dwarves’ personalities are all represented in a dance, entitled “Psih E Ness.” Julia Dervieux, representing the reader in a bright yellow jacket, pushed her way out of a life-size book created especially for the show. She walked around the stage, puzzled by where the sound of tapping was coming from. All of a sudden, seven dancers tap danced their way onstage. In their humorous routine, each dancer captured the character of a dwarf from Snow White — a trick that Busciglio attempted fell flat (and so did she), Rishan Ephrem (Fr.) fell backwards (luckily into the arms of the other dancers), and at one point, everyone tumbled over themselves and fell onto the floor.
“Psih E Ness” was not the only performance with a Disney fairytale influence. The piece “Flora, Fauna and Merryweather” was a classical take on Aurora’s three fairy godmothers. While Dervieux slept on the floor, Julia Cheng (Jr.), in a tutu and pointe shoes, tiptoed in. At the same time, curtains concealing half of the stage opened to reveal a life pianist. Two more dancers, also in tutus, joined Cheng. Dervieux woke up as the trio began to dance together, curtsying to each dancer before joining them. She did a pirouette, and the other three dancers followed with pirouettes of their own, ending their performance.
Dervieux then woke up yet again, this time among skeletons. Dressed in purple glow-in-the-dark skeleton costumes and large green gloves, the fast-paced movements of the performers showed life beyond death. Shivani Lamba (Jr.) even seemed to resuscitate some of the skeletons as two of them pulsed up and down under her hand.
As the lights onstage flashed and the disappeared altogether, the dancers onstage turned into indistinguishable purple skeletons. They crowded Dervieux, their hands winding and twisting around her, forcing her offstage.
Skeleton suits and gloves were not the only glow-in-the-dark props of the night: three pairs of dancers also wielded glow sticks as wands, enacting a magical duel to a remix of Harry Potter theme music. One dancer in each duo fell to the ground, supposedly stunned by a spell, as the other held their wand to their mouth just as the music ended with the words “mischief managed.”
“A Seuss Story” was yet another literature-inspired performance. Busciglio, in a Dr. Seuss hat, walked in and offered Dervieux a platter of green eggs and ham. Dervieux, who pretended to take a bite and spit it out, soon returned the platter. The horrified backup dancers attempted to prevent Busciglio from running away with her green eggs and ham. Busciglio, however, eventually made her getaway, trailed by the remaining dancers.
Each performance in “Turning Pages” is deeply imaginative. Dervieux, a guest artist, is featured as the girl “reading” the story that unifies the show. However, the dancer portraying the reader changes from dance to dance, showing that the reader does not fit any singular identity. The reader can be anyone, and the show encouraged this message by encouraging audience interaction. From walking between the aisles during intermission in preparation for their performance “Dawde” to draping leis over audience member’s necks in “E Komo Mai,” a Hawaiian inspired dance, to running into the audience blowing bubbles in “Under the Sea,” Dance Company made “Turning Pages” not just a show but an experience.