A world of color streamed with feet pointed and backs arched, amazed at the auspicious shapes; I witnessed dance prevail in SPEKTRUM, Howard University’s Dance Arts Student Showcase. Deep symbolism and social reflection are combined in a world of euphoria, that makes me enamored with the love of art, coexisting with life by nine choreographers.
Vibrations and liberation, exquisitely take over your body as the performance begins. Ariarna Odom steps on stage with such intent, the cool blue lights that surround her cannot even compete with her fire. Demanding my attention as she strikes the air with consistency, Odom has this creative way of making your eyes dance in E², choreographed by Aliyha Crawford. Ariarna Odom and Paris Jones eventually take the stage as contrasting figures, solid body shapes with black biketards, and an ambition to portray a deeper meaning of internal conflicts.
As the show proceeds, I immediately realize there is truly value to the movements. They are showcasing life itself and the submerged conceptual ideologies and circumstances behind it. “So to finally find truth through all of the twisted perceptions disrupts balance…” written in the dramaturgy by Royce Zackery, coordinator of the program, entails that the students are truly embodying the realistic constructs of our day. Notably, Raechelle Ellison brings light to the treacherous murders of Aiyana Jones and Eric Garner and so on. A floodlight blares, as helicopter propellers are heard and a news reporter begins to speak in reference to the murders. Ellison uses sound to emphasize the message being portrayed. The title “What a Wonderful World” is a contrast to the meaning behind her choreography.
Two dancers that especially caught my eye were Rayven Leak and Trinity Cox. Leak has this edge about her, that is seemingly pure but all the while audacious in Lindsey Renae’s (guest choreographer) “Listening Louder.” A woman of style and grace, Cox walks the stage with stilts, long-toned legs that moonwalk with forward motion on high releve in “Woman is Power,” choreographed by Sydnee Carroll.
Towards the end, a quadruplet of brown hues corner the stage, as classical orchestrated music by Hildur Gudnadottir streams through your veins. Heart racing, you become curious to see where the stroke of the violin will take you next, as the genre of dance contrast to that of the music. I originally imagined a penche, or arabesque, such as the new dance crave of contemporary ballet movement.
Breiana Seals rids me of that mindset in “The Palace of the Dogs,” as she creates a universe of triangles, rectangles, circles and more, all the while intertwining the rhythm of struggle in everyday life. Vicqueria Smith captured my attention with her sharp movements and facial expressions, one cannot be misled by her intentions. Smith, both a dancer and choreographer in SPEKTRUM, ends the show with the ever so talented Nina Simone.
A “Sinnerman”, Wade Green, tall with lanky arms, holds his stature within the piece as Jaleesa Sharp dances with and around him. There’s this movement of arched arms that is continuously used within this section, which instantly reminds me of a bird figure. Green and Sharpe are truly “Transfigured,” creating animalistic shapes that end the night with vibratious orange tones.
You will be elevated with a thought-provoking, worldly view collaborated with the art form of dance. Support from the DC community is greatly appreciated by young artists. As I catch my breath from an incredulous showcase, I can’t help but think of how the show instantly reminds me of Gabriel Dawe’s Plexus A1. A rainbow of movement, continuously and effortlessly flowing. A true SPEKTRUM.
The choreographers for Spektrum are: Aliyha Crawford, Raechelle Ellison, Reya Roussel, Ariarna Odom, Lindsey Renea, Makeda Griffith, Sydnee Carroll, Breiana Seals, and Vicqueria Smith. The effective lighting design was provided by TW Starnes.
Running Time: 90 minutes, without an intermission.
Howard University Department of Theatre Arts’ SPEKTRUM: Student Choreography Showcase has one more performance tonight, November 20, 2015, and tomorrow, November 21, 2015, at 7:30 PM at the Ira Aldridge Theatre – 2455 6th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them at the box office or online.